What They Wish We Knew: #SOLSC21

Last week Texas was attempting to recover from the Snowpocalypse, so our district gave us Monday off and a virtual teacher planning day Tuesday before kids returned Wednesday. A fellow Houstonian asked our Teach Write community for recommendations on activities to ease back in to the school week. The “What I Wish My Teacher Knew” writing opportunity (thanks, Donnetta!) was among the excellent suggestions and, while I had heard of this before, my own students have never written to this prompt.

I assigned this as a journal late last week, and as you can imagine, the responses ranged quite a bit. I anticipated receiving letters about power still being out and/or water not working. Since I gave examples during our Zoom meeting, I also thought I would read about how much students are struggling during virtual learning, how they need me to understand their schedules include working to help out family, how sincerely unmotivated they are to do anything.

All of those responses were submitted in one way or another, but guess what else happened that took me by surprise? Some of the babies (okay, 10th graders, LOL) fed my soul with their affirmations:

To start off I wish my teacher knew how her class and wonderful teaching skills keep me motivated in school. With the pandemic and the winter storm, my love for writing has been slowly ripping away, but with the help of my teacher it has started to interest me more. I wish my teacher knew she was awesome and really is making a change in my life.

How many times since August have I lamented what an awful teacher I’ve been because…what even is this year? Our schedule currently requires hybrid students A-L attend Monday and Tuesday while the rest of the alphabet attends Thursday and Friday; all students are virtual on Wednesday. In class, I’ve had five students at most; on Zoom, it ranges from one student to ten students on a rare, but great day. It can often be incredibly defeating to “teach” to three blank screens and one student physically in class. And yet…

I want you to know that you are one of the best teachers I ever had in my life. I want you to know that you are a hype teacher. Every day you are excited to see us and talk to us.

This kiddo has no idea just how exciting it is to see students attending and willing to engage. And then there was also magic like…

I also want to say that I really love reading and your class. Your class is one of the very few classes in which I take my headphones off because I really enjoy English. I might not seem like it, but I love reading. I wish I could go to the library and choose books because they help me feel and imagine how a good world would look like.

When, oh, when can we open the library again?! Also, can I celebrate that N223 has the ability to compel a Gen Zer to remove his headphones?!

I assigned this thinking I’d mostly read letters that would lead me to reply notes of encouragement. It turned out to have the opposite effect. It reminded me that our presence matters. Our attitude matters. Our sincere joy at engaging matters. I am COVID-life exhausted. I am COVID-life, pregnant-life exhausted. But I’m going to keep showing up because it matters.

*shared with permission*

27 thoughts on “What They Wish We Knew: #SOLSC21

  1. Well done – through hard times we need to find these slices of joy! Hold on to them and don’t take them for granted! And best of luck to you in your crazy transitions and weather in Texas! Keep shining your light!

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  2. Such a great prompt–I always appreciate the range of responses and the honesty our students bring to this question. I so feel you on being “covid exhausted”. I am covid exhausted and zoom teaching exhausted. But you are absolutely right: it makes a difference that we show up with energy and enthusiasm for our students. I am rarely more than adequate at teaching academics over zoom, but I do try to excel at showing care!

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    1. I know I’m not the only one this tired – this year is crazy, isn’t it? I am certain teachers like you and I who insist on excelling in care are doing it right! 😉

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  3. And this is why we teach…not necessarily for the affirmation but it matters to the students. Congrats to you for being a positive force in the lives of your students.

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    1. I always tell myself I’m going to save the thank you notes and cards, but somehow forget where I’ve placed them. These from this year? I am printing and saving on desktop!! LOL

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  4. Yes. Keep showing up. Keep doing what you do. Keep loving those loveys. Keep at it. And remember that WHO WE ARE is MORE IMPORTANT than WHAT WE TEACH. (OK, maybe I got a little shouty there. Sorry, but I believe it so very strongly.) Yes, we can beat ourselves up for the failings we’ve had as teachers in this strange new thing we’ve got, but please please please remember the words of your kiddos. You. Are. Doing. The. Right. Thing. ❤

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  5. We show up. We do what needs to be done. We come back the next day and do it all over again. In the midst of a pandemic. In the midst of Snowmageddon.

    Your students just shared what many of us need right now: that sense of joy in learning, that joy in reading and writing. We often hope we are imparting that onto our students, but having that feedback is priceless!

    Keep on keeping on, doing the good work, the right work for your students. They are noticing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Darin, thank you for your encouragement!! Their words were so encouraging to read during a time like this. You’re right – so often we hope to impart that goodness, and it’s heartwarming when they feed our souls in this way!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a detailed and compelling post! Thank you so much for sharing and giving a vivid sense of the slump everyone has to pull themselves out of daily and the awfulness of virtual classes and how everyone wants to be back in a classroom!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is certainly a slump – the March feeling of the school year, but on top of a pandemic. Argh! We will make it 🙂

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