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Challenge: Back to School 2020

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My school year begins in less than three weeks and I’m officially in “back to school” mode.

My mind is racing with all the things it normally does this time of year.

My mind is racing with all sorts of new things I’ve never imagined before this year.

My to-do list is endless.

I’ve been practicing my “welcome back” speech while driving in the car.

I’ve been pondering what worked well last year (well, when we were in the classroom) and what probably needs to change.

I’ve been planning our first day down to the minute because that first day sets the tone for every day after.

I’ve been cleaning out and organizing my classroom.

I spent nearly two hours painstakingly measuring and arranging my students’ desks six feet apart.

I’ve had conflicting feelings and emotions as I’ve spent more time in the school building than I have since March 13.

I’m a little afraid of the unknown. I’m a bit anxious about how things are going to play out. I’m nervous about all the extra guidelines and requirements. I’m worried. For so many reasons, I am worried.

I’m a bit sad looking at my bare classroom and all those desks spread so far away from one another.

I’m mourning what once was because it’s crystal clear that it’s gone for the time being.


I’m beyond thrilled to be back in the classroom.

I’m excited for a new school year.

A new school year always signifies new beginnings and a fresh start. Don’t we all need that right about now?

The building is already abuzz with administrators and teachers working hard and preparing for this unprecedented school year.

And it just feels so nice to be back. Even in a mask. Even though everything is different.

I can’t wait to see my students again. I miss them ever so much.

I’m looking forward to the schedule of a school day. It’s the schedule I’ve thrived on my entire life.

Though I may not fit into the teacher clothes I haven’t worn since March, I’m actually pretty excited to get out of bed every day and have somewhere meaningful to go.

Above all, I’m feeling hopeful.

Hopeful that my students, colleagues, and I will find a semblance of normalcy.

That our mental health will improve.

That we will overcome the challenges we’re certain to face.

That we’ll not take our time together for granted.

That our collective experience during this global pandemic will bring us closer together and unite us in a way we might not have understood just five months ago.

That when we read our short stories and poems and novels, we’ll connect more deeply with storylines and characters thanks to this new lens we’ve been gifted.

That we’ll find creative and innovative ways to work together and encourage and support one another from afar.

That we’ll be kinder and more aware of each other than ever before.

That we will still thrive and grow and bloom just as we always have. Perhaps more than ever this year.

That despite all that will be different, all that will be missing, we’ll give our very best to each other. We’ll make the most of our days.

With this hope in my heart, my worries and fears feel manageable.

With this hope in my heart, I’m ready for what’s to come.

To my students- the ones who’ve been awaiting this day with enthusiasm and excitement, the ones who are feeling apprehensive and anxious, the ones who are bummed to have the longest spring break of their lives cut “too short,” and the ones who don’t know what to think or how to feel, I want you to know I’m here for you. Just like I’ve always been.

We’ll figure this out.

We’ll make it work.

We’re in this together.

I hope you’re as ready as I am to hit the ground running. We have some catching up to do and no time to waste.

Also, I hope you’re ready for that welcome back’s almost ready for you!

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