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My school finishes officially on Thursday. This will be my last year; I gave notice in March that I would be leaving at the end of the school year. I leave with my professional relationships in a good place, which I think is always preferable.
It’s been a long year. Some of you might remember the post I wrote after the first day of school when I was overwhelmed by the demands of the new hybrid year. The prospect of nine months surrounded by those cables and machines was intimidating. It got better, as all things do in time, but it remained exhausting to teach remote and in-person students simultaneously. Students and their parents took advantage of the school’s generous remote option. A doctor’s appointment at 3 pm became an excuse not to come to school at all that day and to attend classes remotely, turning what might have been a pleasant and traditional “in-person” class into a dreadful experience with the Teams video (the student always had their camera off, protesting, “my computer is broken, it’ll be fixed soon”). Any exercise planned for in-person had to be scrapped in favor of something that could be done with the remote student. These changes were often discovered last minute, 5-10 minutes before class. Some students simply didn’t come to school at all, even if they hadn’t applied for the remote option; they were just remote every day without an excuse because they “didn’t feel well.” Other students were discovered to be working in public-facing jobs after school at retail stores even though they had applied to be remote students for the year, which made teachers incredulous (to say the least). They went to great lengths to prepare their virtual lessons using new technology they had adopted this year to accommodate the remote students and yet from 3:30 pm, those remote students were working the cash register at The Gap in busy suburban malls, surrounded by people. The administration took note of low teacher morale and tried to take a stand in the 4th quarter but by then it was a bit late.
Departures mean different things to different people. I look forward to leaving for many reasons. Chicago is getting messier by the week, and I’ll be glad to be closer to my family. I do find myself thinking a little regretfully about one student in particular who has fewer coping skills than the others (who will adjust more easily). She’s a very kind and sweet person, a little immature, a bit socially awkward, and it’s amplified by the fact that she’s very conservative in an environment where liberalism is trendy. She suffered a small blow when her friends dropped her (teenage girls can be extremely unkind. So many of the girls now talk seriously about mental health awareness, the friends they know who have attempted/committed suicide, and yet they can behave with such callousness to others), she used my room as a refuge; for studying, eating lunch there until she got the courage up to go back to the cafeteria and sit with new people. It is a common refrain from other teachers and admin that her conservatism might get in the way of her making friends, so she should be less political. Of course, they neglect to consider the content of the conversations of the liberal students, which are very highly charged. The student isn’t close to other teachers and I wonder who she will go to when she needs to talk next year. I hope she finds someone who will give her good advice, because it means so much when you’re young. She wrote me a kind thank you note and said she was happy for me but said she was sad about my leaving. In this particular case, so am I. I wish her well.
Anyway…here’s to the end of some things, and also the beginning of others.Published in