teacher with face mask in an empty classroom

A Corona Goodbye

What it feels like to be a teacher closing out the 2019-2020 school year


This has been a year that teachers around the world will not soon forget.  Characterized by an abrupt closing, a mysterious hope for reopening, and a final hard “no” to that reopen, the Corona virus has sent the world into pandemic mode and has never allowed for us to stop guessing what is next. And now, as we pack up our rooms and hold our final academic online classes, we are faced with a farewell like never before.

And how about those whose careers are coming to a close or simply trying a new start at a new school?  Theirs is not so simple or marked with celebration as they were before. A retirement is now celebrated by tiny half inch tiles on our computer screens. Although the tears are flowing and the emotions are real, they cannot be seen or heard. Our appreciation for their tireless work and sacrifice is written down to be kept for years to come rather than spoken in person.  An entire career, a lifetime of teaching, is coming to a close during a very uncertain time.  So for those of you who are retiring out there, HATS OFF TO YOU! Making it to this point is a huge accomplishment. While there could definitely be some odd feelings surrounding leaving in such a state, do not EVER forget the invaluable service you provided for the children you reached. It’s a shame that I can no longer witness in person a teacher closing out their last school days.  What a sense of pure joy and relief they must be feeling!  They deserve every bit of triumph and satisfaction!

Transfers are never easy.  The year comes to a close and you know there will be a goodbye, but that feeling truly does not hit hard until you are faced with that last day. The usual fare of hugs, exchanging of plans, and face to face smiles that carry the weight of a million tons of gratitude, will have to be put on hold. But this year those smiles are blocked with a mask or a mute button or a lag in the internet connection.  Its yet another wrinkle we face in the new “normal” of this coronafied year. I personally cannot wait to keep in touch.  This pandemic will change the way that we can stay in touch.  The silver lining: hopefully we learned that we don’t need a pandemic as an excuse to keep up with those we love and care about, no matter where they are in the world. This unique situation has introduced endless possibilities for communication while still limiting my main way of showing appreciation… HUGS! 

I teach kindergarten. I come from a small town. My mother was raised in Texas. I hug and I come from a long line of huggers.  I want to hug my students goodbye so badly.  Because it doesn’t matter if you had a tough year or the best year of your life, you will still miss those little guys who became your family. They grew so much right under your nose all year. As a teacher who has spent so much energy nurturing them, it’s hard for us to let them go.  With the uncertainty of next year looming over teachers’ heads, we have no idea when we will see our classroom family again.  I want to tell them good job. I want to tell them I love them. I want to tell them that we grew together as a unit over the past 10 months. I want to tell them thank you for making me a better teacher than I was in August.  I want to thank them for allowing me to love them while I was away from my daughter for the first time in her entire life.  I want to say so much to them that can’t be completely felt through a virtual ceremony.  I know other teachers feel the same. 

This is my 7th year of teaching.  Lucky number 7!  I feel lucky to have such a lovely home life that makes distance learning enjoyable.  I feel lucky to have met some amazing children.  I feel lucky to have coworkers that make saying goodbye so very hard.  So even though this year was totally bonkers crazy, and even though this goodbye is like no other, and even though we are having trouble processing our feelings, we need to remember one thing:  The show will go on in the fall and we are STILL teachers.  

Goodbye 2019-2020 school year.  No teacher will ever forget you.