“Even though it hasn’t been easy, teachers don’t give up, ever. If something doesn’t work, we figure out how to make it work.”
I received this message from a friend late last week. I had checked in on some of my teacher friends to see how they were doing and how we could encourage and pray for them. You guys, their responses were so real, raw and vulnerable – they broke my heart. Today, I’d like to share some of their thoughts, struggles, and prayer requests (with their permission):
“I miss my students. This feels so different and unsettled so it is not like spring break or even summer when you have definitive times when you know you will see them again. I am concerned for my students. Some have home lives that make school a refuge and now their refuge is gone. Some aren’t getting food like they did at school. Many need the social connection that school provides and now that is gone as well.
It is a roller coaster of emotions. Sometimes I’m ready to face the world. Other times I’m missing my family who lives states away. Then I am missing my students. As I prepare to record videos of myself singing songs for my students I am brought to tears thinking how I am not able to share this in person.”
“None of us are working in a time or place that we ever thought we would have to deal with. The day that my principal started talking to us about the possibility of having to shut the doors of our school to students who we love so sincerely, I was in denial and then shock…after class ended, I went to the office restroom and cried. I just sobbed, filled with the loss of this school year. I love my students so much and I knew that we wouldn’t really have closure on this school year. I won’t be able to connect with them anymore in a way that feels real and genuine. I mourned the loss of their senior year of high school. Musical, track, baseball, softball, speech, knowledge bowl, prom, math team, choir, band – they all screeched to a halt and all of the kids who were involved in those activities now have more time than they’ve had in years.
The reality that is online teaching is hard for me to wrap my head around. It isn’t what any classroom teacher signed up for – we are in this for the students, for the personal connections that we can make with them, for the relationships that we build, the laughs, cries, and banter. What we didn’t want is a discussion forum, video chats, and Google everything. But we will do it. Because if we don’t, we won’t be fulfilling our duties as teachers. Teachers adapt. We are fluid and elastic and must contort ourselves in whatever way we have to in order to help our students. Yet, we must also be realistic. We have to have realistic expectations for our students and also for ourselves. We will not solve all of the problems of the world by being amazing online teachers. We will make an impact on our students – even from afar, and even with an overextended internet. Please pray for us. It vacillates between feeling completely okay and completely wrong, and I don’t always know what will trigger tears, sadness, or despair anymore.”
“We had one weekend to figure out how to facilitate remote learning. I’m doing ok, but pray for my students who miss the routine of school and their friends. Pray for my students’ parents as they try to help at home.”
“A huge part of life coming up will be not only homeschooling my own kids but also completely teaching online. We’re expected to be available online every day from 8-11 am and 12-3 pm. That’s not even supposed to start until Monday, but I’ve already had kids emailing and using Google Hangouts and even video chatting just because school is their stability and normalcy. Mostly, I think prayers will be needed to balance out supporting my own families’ learning while at the same time being academically and emotionally there for up to a hundred and sixty-five of other people’s children.”
“Some of the things others can do to help support our teachers is to keep sending us good thoughts whether it be on social media, text, phone calls or whatever. Praying for all of us is such a blessing and we all need God’s Word in our lives! As a teacher, my prayer is for parents and caregivers to be loving, patient and supportive for their kids and the teachers.”
These teachers are facing challenges like they’ve never known before. They’re stressed and overwhelmed. But you know what I love most about their messages? Their biggest concern is for their students – and not just their academic well-being, but their social, emotional, and physical well-being.
Let’s lift up our teachers. Let’s pray for them on a regular basis. Let’s drop them encouraging messages, thanking them for rising to the challenge of suddenly teaching in a completely different environment. Let’s love them the way they continue to love our own children.
We may be physically separated, but we’re in this together.