students,  teaching

Finding Out What We Really Need In The End

In March, I would have given anything for a break. I would have given a kidney, a lung, heck, take it all. I needed a break. There were over 30 of you in each class and each one of you wanted something from me. I was tired. I was exhausted and worn out. I couldn’t make it another day.

I needed no more hugs. Seriously, I’m holding my fist up to fist bump you – doesn’t that clearly indicate you’ve hugged me enough today?

I needed you to stop talking when I’m talking. We don’t care that you’re going to Zaxby’s later or that your dog had puppies – well, not in the middle of the lesson. I can care later.

I needed you to turn in your project and to spell Christopher Columbus correctly. How hard is it to do a project when you have five in-class days to do it, anyway?

I needed you to stop being on Nitrotype and pay attention to me. Now is not the time to learn how to type using the home keys. Now is the time to learn history.

I needed you to stop being needy. I cannot help you with every. single. thing. every. single. day. Seriously. Figure it out.

I needed you to be absent. Like for real. I needed a day when you weren’t there and I didn’t have to ask you to stop laughing or giggling or getting out of your seat. Seriously, why are the crazy ones the ones who are always in school??

I needed you to stop dancing in class. This ain’t the club and you ain’t on TikTok. Stop waving your arms like you’re warding off Nargles and FOCUS.

I needed you to show up to Beta Club meetings. Seriously, those are the way you stay in the Beta Club and you can’t even bother to come? And I need you to stop asking me about selling lollipops for next year’s convention. I ain’t got time for that right now.

Then we closed schools.

No warning (other than the one we had in our guts).

No chance to say good-bye or get in one last hug.

Just – home on Friday, ‘I’ll see you Monday,’ and on Sunday ‘no more school.’

And now today? Today we won’t be going back. And I realize that while maybe I did need a break in March, I need so much more now in April.

I need your hugs. I need you to run up to me in the hallway, arms wide, ponytail bopping, and wrap your arms around me. Forget the fist bump, the handshake, I need that hug. Forget the side-arm hug; I need the full blast.

I need to hear you talk. I don’t even care what it’s about. You can tell me about the hidey holes you’re digging or the bed bugs you’ve eradicated. I’d love to hear what you’re having for dinner or how your cat had kittens (and I won’t even harp on about spaying and neutering, I promise). I just need to hear your voice.

I need you to just try your best. I need you to just give your best effort. You tried? That’s all I want. That’s all I asked for. You didn’t turn in a project but you came to class and you drew a picture and you at least spelled America right? That’s enough. I just need your best.

I need to hear about your latest score on Nitrotype. I want you to pull out Nitrotype and grin at me and laugh as I take the Chromebook and blow away your competition (and put you on a level you can’t possibly compete at but you love it anyway). I don’t care that you’re off task on your Chromebook or that you’re watching Fortnite vidoes – if it meant you were in my class, I don’t care. I will stop being the History Hijack Ninja if you’re being off task on your Chromebook meant you were in front of me.

I need you to need me. You want me to stand over your desk every second and affirm that you’ve done everything right? You got it. You want me to help you microwave your Spaghetti-Os? Sure, kiddo, let me at it. You don’t know how to do this graphic organizer we’ve done 7 million times? Why I’d be happy to sit down with you and go over it step by step. I’d help you with anything if it meant we were together.

I need you with me. I need you physically in front of me. I need you on my Google Meets and I need to see your face. I need to know that you’re okay and that life is good because when it’s been 3 weeks and I haven’t heard from you, well, as a teacher I get a little panicky. I need to see you.

I need you to dance. Let it all out. Be at the club, be on Dancing With the Stars! Dance your heart out because, when you’re dancing, life is good. Don’t ever stop being you. I’d give anything to tell you “this ain’t the club” one more time because that would mean you were with me.

I just need my Beta kids. My eighth graders who I won’t see anymore. The kids who went to one, two, three conventions with me. The sixth graders who just got inducted and were so happy. The seventh graders who were already planning next year’s convention. I’ll sell a zillion lollipops, I’ll plan a thousand service projects if that means we are together again.

But I won’t get that any more this year.

Know that while our schools may look like this and our rooms may be empty, our teachers are not gone. We are still there for you. Every minute of every day. They say work hours end at 3:15 and aren’t happening on the weekends. Yeah, right. We are still here for you, we are here for our students, and we are pushing through.

I know that I speak for every teacher when I say that this decision, this knowledge that we are not going back to our physical schools this year is breaking our hearts.

If I’d known that Friday was my last day with you, I’d have hugged you a little tighter. I’d have taken a class photo. I’d have told you how much I love you. I’d have appreciated you.

Because I need you.