I just dropped off homework, next to an empty parking lot and quiet sidewalks. I set the girls’ folders next to folders with their friends’ names— friends they haven’t seen in weeks. I finally let some tears fall over the loss of this. For them. For their teachers. For this school I love so much.
I used to be a teacher and here is the thing: August through December, you and the students are getting to know each other. You’re building rapport and setting boundaries and sticking to your guns so that order can be established. You are spending that time making sure everyone feels safe and heard, because only then will they start to learn anything. January and February, you’re just trying to get everyone back on track after break, you’re scrambling around snow days, and preparing for state testing.
But March through May? It’s the golden time to be a teacher and a student.
You’ve become a weird little family; you know one another’s quirks—you know when Josh needs to go to the bathroom every day and you know when Sarah just needs to stretch her legs a bit. You laugh before the punchline because you already know one another’s jokes. There are trips and fun projects that have been saved all year because finally—FINALLY— these students are really YOURS.
It’s the sweet spot.
And this year, all around the world, teachers and students are missing out on this long-awaited payoff.
Everyone is still doing the best they can for their students, but they don’t get the daily life that has become so comfortable for them at this point in the year.
I haven’t taught for seven years and I STILL miss March through May with students. It was a magic you can’t understand if you’re not an educator. Every fresh August, I would miss my previous students and wonder who the imposters were sitting in their seats . . . but then I would remind myself to hold on, to invest in the new ones, to put in the time, because March was coming.
So when you hear teachers say they miss their students, they really, really do. In their very guts.
And they are grieving losing a March-May with this group they will never get back.
Sure, they will get it again, but not with this group. Our kids will be fine. Sure, they’ll be a little behind on a few things and lots of review will be necessary, but they will be fine. I’m not sad about them missing out on some math problems. I’m just sad everyone is missing the magic.
So if you’ve thanked your child’s teacher for the work they’re doing to still educate your child, that’s good. Do that.
But also? Thank them for loving them so much that losing March-May with them hurts.
This post originally appeared on the author’s Facebook page