“I think COVID actually taught me a lot about being a teacher.”

What’s one way I’ve grown this past year? That’s a tough one. I think I’ve grown a lot as an educator. I think COVID actually taught me a lot about being a teacher. When you first start as an educator, or any job, I think you spend a lot of time trying to follow all the rules and follow all the techniques to a T, even if it’s at risk of sacrificing who you are as a person and maybe as a teacher. And I think COVID helped me find more of my teaching identity, to get to the core of my own strengths as a teacher. The funny thing about a lot of jobs and especially teaching is like there isn’t one certain way to do it. There’s just a certain way for you, personally, to do it. My personality is going to lead to a different teaching experience than another teacher’s personality. And I spent a lot of time trying to do things that work for other teachers that just don’t work for me. Thankfully, I knew this right from the start, but I knew I was never going to be a fifth grade teacher who could sing cutesy songs unironically to my students, but there’s other teachers who do that. And this year, I think there’s a lot of pressure taken off of me as a teacher, which I know sounds odd because of everything we’ve faced. But there was a big element of, “Just do what you have to do to make it through this year.” Where it almost felt like, this is not what it actually was, but at times it almost felt like, “Let’s just make it. If the kids learn something along the way, that’s a bonus,” which, again, that’s not what it was. But our main focuses were things like the health of our students and the well-being of our students and families, and the well-being of parents and staff. So, that took a lot of pressure off and allowed me to just focus on like some real core elements which was like, not just the fact that my students were physically healthy as in, not sick. But I also got to focus on their true well-being as humans and a lot of — in a lot of ways. And it turns out that built this like really tight bond between me and my students this year that led seamlessly into a lot of really wonderful learning opportunities.

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