Why I Am Still Grateful to Be a Teacher 2020

Middle school veteran, Connor, revisits an earlier theme by sharing his thoughts on being a teacher in 2020 and how it has shifted his perspective on being grateful.

Updated on: November 23, 2020

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As I reflect on 2020, there is a lot to mourn amidst the global pandemic that we find ourselves immersed in. Teachers are riddled with anxiety as we adjust and continue to innovate by doing what is best for kids. However, I think in moments of struggle and fear, it is vital that we take time to reflect on the moments of triumphs and recognize what we are still thankful for. 

This year, my district put equity at the forefront of all decisions by providing every single family with a laptop and hotspot if they needed it. We have deployed thousands of laptops, thousands of meals to our most marginalized communities, and were tasked with developing curriculum and strategic partnerships to ensure all families we serve are taken care of. 

I am deeply thankful for the students who pop up on screen just to say good morning. I am thankful for the quirkiness of middle schoolers and how they awkwardly fumble about when discussing their personal matters. I am thankful for a district that wants to teach the entire child, not just serve their academic needs. 

Students often look to teachers to be their peacekeepers. After a tumultuous election cycle, braving a global pandemic, and surviving a job crisis, teachers keep finding ways to cultivate a community of learners while most of us are virtual across the country. I am thankful to be a part of a virtual community where educators share not only their wins, but their trials as well

In this year of unprecedented hardships, I have noticed that kids are most thankful for teachers being our most authentic versions of ourselves. When we own who we are and how we have similar struggles, it creates space to allow kids to be themselves. Online learning can be scary as it spotlights inequities, highlights insecurities, and pinpoints misinformation. However, we can utilize this unique opportunity to breathe life into students who may need an unparalleled level of support. 

I’m thankful that this pandemic is forcing a lot of us to ask tough questions about how we educate because it is proving that it cannot be a one-size-fits-all system. like it has been for so long. I believe this pandemic will allow us to dismantle archaic systems and create solutions and multiple pathways for all students when we rise from the ashes of this temporary storm. 

Through virtual learning, I have learned more about educational equity, providing safe spaces for kids to make mistakes; and the depths of my ability to empathize and be a “difference maker”. Students inherently want to do well—we just need to meet them where they currently are. 

I am thankful to be a teacher because in a world where we hide behind social media posts and commentary, there is a desperate need for advocates who strap on their boots and fight for equity in education. I am thankful to be a teacher because I have the opportunity to teach the entire child. It is nearly impossible to hold kids to standards and expectations that we do not set ourselves. 

It is my greatest honor and privilege to be a somebody to someone who feels they have nobody. With that, I leave you with a list of what I’m thankful for—as an educator...in a pandemic... teaching virtually:

  1. I am thankful for students who elevate their voice and go out on a limb
  2. I am thankful for SEL models where students share what is important to them. 
  3. I am thankful for new ways to reach all kids using different tools and strategies.
  4. I am thankful for equitably providing resources for all families who need it.
  5. I am thankful for being able to recreate the way that we teach and students learn math.
  6. I am thankful for remembering that grades are not the most important measure of success.
  7. I am thankful for my technology colleagues, who help create solutions and troubleshoot the constant tech issues that I experience on a daily basis.
  8. I am thankful for fellow educators who pursue social justice for all students, regardless of the ramifications.
  9. I am thankful for humanity being restored and reunited as we grieve losses, but celebrate successes.
  10. And, I am thankful for a job that consists of much more than just teaching.