Losing the final months of the school year due to the COVID-19 outbreak has been challenging both for families and teachers alike. And no one knows how it feels for everyone involved better than former educator and mom of four Kelsey Irwin, who recently wrote a poignant Facebook post detailing why missing out on the end of the year, specifically March through May, is especially painful for both kids and teachers.
"I just dropped off homework, next to an empty parking lot & quiet sidewalks. I set the girls' folders next to folders with their friends' names, friends they haven't seen in weeks," she wrote. "I finally let some tears fall over the loss of this. For them. For their teachers. For this school I love so much. I used to be a teacher & here is the thing: August through December you & the students are getting to know each other. You're building rapport & setting boundaries & sticking to your guns so that order can be established. You are spending that time making sure everyone feels safe and heard, because only then will they start to learn anything."
Then, she said, when January and February roll around, teachers spend those months doing their best to keep students on track after Winter break and preparing them for state testing. Once those tests are over in March, the fun really comes to a head.
"It's the golden time to be a teacher. And a student. You've become a weird little family; you know one another's quirks — you know when Josh needs to go to the bathroom everyday and you know when Sarah just needs to stretch her legs a bit," she wrote. "You laugh before the punchline because you already know one another's jokes. There are trips and fun projects that have been saved all year because finally — FINALLY — these students are really YOURS."
"I haven't taught for 7 years, and I STILL miss March through May with students."
For Kelsey, these months are considered "the sweet spot," but this year, unfortunately, students are missing out on those wonderful moments together. "I haven't taught for 7 years, and I STILL miss March through May with students," she shared. "It was a magic you can't understand if you're not an educator. Every fresh August I would miss my previous students and wonder who the imposters were sitting in their seats, but then I would remind myself to hold on, to invest in the new ones, to put in the time because March was coming."
Now, Kelsey is reassuring parents that when teachers say they miss their students, they mean it from the bottom of their hearts.
"They are grieving losing a March-May with this group that they will never get back. Sure, they will get it again, but not with this group," she explained. "Our kids will be fine. Sure, they'll be a little behind on a few things and lots of review will be necessary, but they will be fine. I'm not sad about them missing out on some math problems. I'm just sad everyone is missing the magic. So if you've thanked your child's teacher for the work they're doing to still educate your child, that's good. Do that. But also? Thank them for loving them so much that losing March-May with them hurts."