This year is going to be one of the most difficult ones teachers around the world have ever had. We are living in a time of great uncertainty, fear, and tragedy. Nothing could have prepared us for times like these.
Except that something has. We’ve had a year very much like this before. We’ve just forgotten about it. It was a tough year for all of us on a personal level – if not for the world at large. And remembering how we got through it last time can give us the fortitude to do our bit in helping our communities to function in the midst of the current global catastrophe. And to heal afterward.
It was our first year of teaching.
It was a time no amount of preparation readied us for. We had no idea how things worked and had to try and figure it all out and make it work. Suddenly, we had to work with emotionally charged issues, difficult colleagues, unreasonable demands, and high expectations. We stayed up late into the night with trying to get our lessons ready and trying to make them engaging and effective. We worried incessantly about our students. We were filled with anxiety and even fear that we might get it wrong, that what we were doing was not good enough, and that we would not be able to do this for very much longer. We cried. We almost gave up. We were exhausted.
With millions of children away from school, and with so many communities suffering terrible economic and personal hardships, the COVID-19 epidemic is unlikely to leave a single school community untouched. And so we need to rethink, reboot, and reimagine our roles at our schools.
In a few weeks’ or months’ time, we will be going back to a totally new reality. We are going to need to assist in healing our communities. And we will also need to do our part, where we can, to hold things together until then.
To do this, we are going to have to draw in the same kind of courage, compassion, determination, energy, and adaptability we had when we were first-year teachers. We’ll have to roll up our sleeves and get stuck in – very often doing things we have never done before, and figuring it out as we go. We are going to need to put aside our anxieties, our personal pain, our tiredness, and work late into the night. And we are going to need to forge an entirely new set of skills. Just like we did in that very first year as teachers.
It will not be easy and we will need to support one another and be kind to ourselves to get through it.
But we are teachers, and we can do this.
We’ve done it before.