Middle School will look different this year.
Temperatures will be checked upon arrival.
Students must go straight to their classrooms.
Desks will be spaced six feet apart.
Students will wear masks.
In our school, teachers will rotate to the students.
No congregating in the hallways.
No shared supplies.
No shared spaces.
Lunch will be in the classroom.
No field trips.
No contact sports or throwing the football around at recess.
Sounds pretty bleak, yes? It does. I know.
And just a few short months ago, I was a proponent of keeping kids home. To prevent the spread of the virus, yes, but also because I thought all the rigid guidelines would be more harmful than good for middle schoolers.
Parents and pediatricians alike pushed for schools to reopen and I fought back tooth and nail.
NOT for fear of my own physical safety, but for my students’ MENTAL and EMOTIONAL well-being.
School will look so very different. Would all the things we CAN’T do end up being detrimental to my students?
But then I got back into my classroom.
It took a few moments to get used to bare walls. And desks so far away.
To some of the “fun” being boxed up and put in storage for now.
To interacting with my colleagues from a distance, in a mask.
But, it was actually easier than I thought it would be to adjust.
Everything that seemed so foreign and unbearable at first has just become part of my routine.
I realized it would be ok. We could make the best of it.
And then my students came to drop off their school supplies. They came by appointment at allotted times.
The energy that filled the hallways and my classroom? The excitement? The enthusiasm?
It was contagious.
Even though they’d had their temperatures checked at the door.
Even though we couldn’t hug or high five or get too close.
Even though we were all wearing masks.
It was truly the best day I’d had in a very long time.
I know without a doubt that my students will adapt just as I have.
So yes, middle school will look different this year.
Students will stay in their own classroom.
Though they can’t really move around or work together, I have spent hours creating interactive lessons and slides and activities that will help us work together and learn together and have fun together from afar.
Though they won’t move classes and won’t have lockers/cubbies, they WILL get a new teacher personality to change up the scenery every hour.
On pretty days, we will make nature our classroom.
They will have milk crates at their desks to hold their supplies.
Though they can’t hug their friends and I can’t greet them with fist bumps or high fives, we WILL have safe and fun ways to greet each other and show our love and grow our community.
Air hugs, air fist bumps, spirit fingers, heart fingers, foot bumps, elbow bumps, air high fives.
You might think middle schoolers are too cool for that. Or that it’s too elementary. One thing I’ve learned over my time with them is that they’re still kids. They’re just in bigger bodies.
And they will LOVE it. Will they admit it? Of course not!
Though they can’t eat in the cafeteria with their friends, they get to eat in the classroom with yours truly. We will use this time to cultivate relationships with the people in our classroom. We will find ways to have fun. We’ll even go outside and get some of our energy out for recess.
And speaking of recess, I know it will look different, too. But there are still dozens upon dozens of activities that will allow them to play and enjoy themselves while social distancing.
Though they will be wearing masks (and so will I), we WILL learn other ways to communicate with each other. We will learn how to read body language. We will smile with our eyes.
Though they can’t go on field trips, I WILL bring field trips to them. Technology is a powerful tool and I will utilize it to bring the world right into our classroom.
I PROMISE I will follow the proper protocol. It will be the number one priority every single day.
I PROMISE my students will be able to interact with their friends in some capacity.
I PROMISE they will feel my love for them.
I PROMISE I will hold them to the high standards I always have.
I PROMISE I will be understanding and lenient when the unknown comes knocking at our classroom door.
I PROMISE they will learn. Oh how they will learn. More than any of us even realize.
Yes, middle school will look different this year, but we will make the best of it.
There will be hiccups and bumps along the way.
Students will likely feel the sting of loss. They’ll feel nostalgic for the school days of before.
If ever there were a year to be flexible, this is it.
Be patient with me as I’m still navigating guidelines and regulations and technology.
Be patient with your children as they’re adapting and doing the best they can.
Be patient with yourself as you try to make sense of this new way of school for your children.
Middle school will look different this year, but in so many ways that count, it’ll be just the same.
Teachers will be doing everything in their power to keep their students happy, safe, and healthy.
Teachers will be helping foster lifelong learners and global citizens.
Teachers will be coming up with innovative ways to teach students content.
Teachers will be taking every opportunity to get to know their students and help their students get to know one another.
I can’t wait for this unprecedented school year to begin.
I can’t wait to get those air hugs and fist bumps and heart fingers going.
I can’t wait to see my students’ eyes light up when they connect with something we are learning. When something clicks for them.
I can’t wait to have these amazing kids in the classroom again.
I can’t wait for some routine and consistency that’s much needed for all of us!
Middle school will look different this year, and I can’t wait!