I am a teacher.
By the third year of teaching, my daily routine outside of school was marked by a schedule that centered around teaching. Bells go off in my head during the summers. No matter what day it is, I naturally awake at the same time.
When there is complete silence, I sometimes have to turn on some sort of background noise.
Mentally, I can prepare for summer breaks, but much of what I do in the summer still revolves around my school because in truth a school never closes.
Two weeks into this epidemic that now includes a “stay at home” order and I am trying to explain to a person who does not teach what I am missing most. I tell him that it is the “organized chaos.” That’s hard to explain to someone who does not teach in a school, and until I had to put what I meant into words, I didn’t really know what it totally encompassed intellectually.
But I sure feel it.
- It’s the bustling hallways between class periods when students have that brief period of socializing with others at school.
- It’s the collaborative group work that occurs when students are engaged in an assignment.
- It’s the crowd at a sporting event supporting students representing the school.
- It’s the cafeteria during lunchtime.
- It’s the ten different conversations in a classroom taking place right before the bell rings to begin class.
- It’s the open area outside the building after school where friends meet.
- It’s the extracurricular activity that brings people with similar interests together.
- It’s that frenetic pace that teachers get used to over the years and find comfort because energy is being used to maximize what time we actually do have.
And it’s so much more than that.
Yesterday, I went to my school to collect some of the items and books that I thought I need now that schools have been shut down until at least May and an order to stay at home was to start in the evening. I conducted an online class from my desk with students who would normally sit in the very desks in that same room. When the session concluded and the screen went blank, there was that feeling of complete silence that many would find relaxing.
I miss the bemused faces of students who are amazed that I find what I teach incredibly interesting. I miss the eye rolls from those who think my jokes are corny. I miss the honest feedback from students and colleagues about what we are doing about teaching and learning.
I am a teacher.
And when that school opens back up after this epidemic, I might be the first one in his classroom.