I find myself using the word “serve” when I talk or write about what teachers do. We serve our kids by providing a safe place to learn and grow. We serve our families by providing opportunities to talk about their kids’ progress, helping to support them when things get complicated, and we serve each other as colleagues when we offer help, support, ideas, or just a listening ear. Education is a service industry, honestly.

The overwhelm of this pandemic is great. In the middle of my forehead, just between my eyes, a headache has been forming for some time. Tonight it is worse than it has been…and I felt it growing throughout the day.

It holds the stress of friends wondering whether or not they should stay in their current role or even if they should remain in education at all.

It holds the hurt of kids who are torn between following the rules at school and their families’ or friends’ opinions and thoughts on mask-wearing, distancing, outdoor activities in winter, lunchtime expectations, snow days, remote learning days, in-school rapid tests, and everything else that this stupid pandemic has brought to us.

It holds the worry and frustration around decisions being made on behalf of education by people who are very much removed from it, furthering the untruth that teachers aren’t doing enough, are being dishonest and hiding information, and are incapable of doing the work they signed up to do to help students grow and learn.

It holds irritation with people who say one thing, do another, and stir up drama and unkindness that divides people and pits them against one another, leading to an incredible lack of trust.

It holds the heartache of not seeing people I love very often.

It holds all the unshed tears (yes, Liz, I know that they’re cleansing…but they’re stuck.), unsaid words, un-screamed fits of frustration, anger, and sadness, all the unslept hours and unfinished work.

And it holds the overwhelm of constant stress, wondering which shoe will drop today, what new crisis will crop up, what or who will be attacked next, and holding space for everyone impacted.

In education, we serve. And with that service comes every emotion you can imagine. In talking with friends today, we acknowledged this…and none of us knows how to fix it or how to be both empathetic and practical, kind and solution-focused, supportive and firm about expectations…all at the same time.

Maybe tonight I can let the tears out…maybe…or maybe not. I don’t know how much room is left in my head for all of this. But tomorrow, I’ll go back and serve our kids, our families, our staff…and it won’t be perfect and not everyone will be happy, but I’ll do what I can and it’ll have to be enough.

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