Joy of teaching (and learning!)

This is one of the last pictures of my classroom, weeks before a global pandemic shifted teachers to online instruction. Students are engaged in animated conversation while my colleague and I sort out the next co-teaching move. Can you smell joy?

The depression I feel since–that still lurks around the corner of my computer screen–is from a lack of dopamine hits. The teaching joy hits. 

Drug of choice for teachers everywhere. 

Make decisions on the fly–hit. 

Dispel a misconception–hit. 

Run with an idea that we didn’t plan–hit. Hit!

I have the same exhilarating need to make decisions that exhaust me, to be the queen of my classroom, even when I know student energy marks true diplomacy. 

I miss being in charge. I miss stepping into the horrid smell of combined snacks, sat-in-the-grass-between-classes trail following them to their seat. One cracks open a plastic container of sushi, another a homemade burrito. Cheetos hold them til dinner. 

I miss tucking in the tags of their shirts (even now) and scanning the room for anyone missing before we start. “Where’s Claire?” I ask, and a few lean over to text her, then remind me she’s at a track meet. 

By the end of class, during a lull of conversation, I email anyone absent, to check in, to prod. 

We are each other’s keeper, and once they step through the door that opens to a new classroom every semester, we belong to each other. 

We belong to each other. Every teacher feels this way, but somehow we’ve been indicted for whatever has been chosen that whoever didn’t choose it doesn’t like. What a cruel circle game.

We don’t choose that we don’t see them. We’d never choose that. 

Everyone is hurting, but comparison grief gets us nowhere. The pressure to deny our sadness, frustration, and rage is a liar. Some of us feel bad for our feelings, and then feel bad that we feel bad. 

There’s a country song in there somewhere. 

People are watching us, taking their cues from our ability to show grace, our unwillingness to take a side. We take the side of our students, and whether that puts us behind a desk or behind a computer, we will take it. 

Published On: August 3rd, 2020 / Categories: Blog /