This year was my final year of college, the year where I get to spend every day working with students and growing as a teacher. As we all know, this experience was cut short by the concern over COVID-19. I am writing this post to discuss the impact it had on me as a student-teacher. Usually, student-teachers are not thought of as terrible importance, I mean, why would we be? We are in the classroom for a limited amount of time and our mission is to become better teachers before getting our own classroom. Let me explain my experience through COVID-19.
When the school closure was announced, I just finished my student-teaching experience in a 6th grade ELA classroom. Thankfully, I am one of the lucky ones who got to finish my experience. From talking with other student-teachers, their second experience was completely terminated. They will never get to have experience in another grade level or work with their other cooperating teacher. For me, I was home clear. Since this was my second experience, I was going to take the rest of the semester being a substitute teacher and observing other classrooms.
I remember teaching my last class on March 12th and how excited I was to complete my student teaching. I brought in brownies for my final class and explained to them that I might not be here every day but they will see me on Monday (because I did not have a substitute job scheduled that day.) I cannot explain how worried they were about not being able to see me for the rest of their 6th-grade year. In my mindset, I was comforting them and telling them it would all be okay because they will see me Monday! Or so I thought. I should not say “I”. I should say, or so we all thought! Sadly, that Monday morning was not greeted with bright faces inside a classroom, it was greeted with countless emails explaining that we are closing school doors for two weeks. At the time, I thought this is great! We will have time to let the virus skip over us and be back in April. Well, those two weeks turned into no physical classes at all.
Like I said, I was a student-teacher so I have emails coming in from the school I was placed at and my college. At first, it was overwhelming seeing how your future is going to play out and you have no control over it. Needless to say, my school informed my college that there was no need for student teachers because they were moving instruction online. Which, looking back, is completely understandable. Knowing my cooperating teacher, she is a wonderful teacher and I know she would be able to handle this on her own.
In the end, the thing that hurts the most is that I broke a promise. I always stay true to my words and on March 12, 2020, I could not. I promised my 6th-grade students that I would see them Monday. I never expected that to be my last day with them. At this point, I have taken another job in another district so I won’t see their growth into next year. I won’t see them on the streets or in Walmart or at the YMCA playing basketball. The sad. hard truth is that it is a very high possibility that I will not see them again. I never got to say my full goodbye.