their voices

Two months ago we started a national effort to school students from home. Each state, perhaps even each district, dealt with this transition differently. I could not be prouder of my colleagues or my students for rising to meet this challenge head on with the full intention to keep our school community together. Twice a week I meet with all my students, through google meets, additional emails and individual meetings and phone calls. They have learned, I have learned, and swiftly we adapted to a digital forum. As a teacher of reading and writing, I have been privy to the inner thoughts and reflections of many students during this unprecedented time. They are experiencing a topsy-turvy new day to day of sheltering with all its crazy chaotic difficult challenges, yet still continue to show up digitally and wow me. Tonight, I thought I’d share some of their voices, their hopes and dreams, and everyday afternoons.

“None of us have been in school for almost 2 MONTHS now. That’s honestly mind blowing, that I haven’t seen my teachers, or most of my friends for 2 months.” 

“This past month has been a crazy experience that I don’t think anyone will ever forget. I have thought a lot about what I am missing out on, sports, school, social life, etc. Everything is different, and I feel like there will have to be a new normal once the coronavirus gets under control. People will either live in fear, or not. People will either make a change to their mindset so they can’t take everything for granted, or they will still believe that everything is just given to them.”

“I just want to have a fun summer, and not worry about anything.” 

“It’s hard to stay on task when you could easily just pick up the phone and use it. There’s no teacher to stop you, so it’s hard not to do it. There are times doing school work where I just want to give up and throw my Chromebook out my window. With dance it’s kind of the same, I love taking these classes so much, but there are days where I just don’t want to go and do it. I had these days before all of this but when I got to the studio I had all my friends cheer me up and make me happy, now I have myself and a computer. There’s nobody cheering me on or giving me the motivation to keep trying. If I mess up, I get annoyed at myself and get upset and I don’t have anyone telling me it’s okay. This aspect has probably been the hardest part for me during all of this.”

“I think that after this is all over people will be more appreciative of things, like seeing family and friends and going out. I also think that students will be happy to go to school, like the actual building. I’ve never really wanted to get up and go to school and now there’s nothing I want to do more than that.”

“I find myself most days staring into the woods in my backyard, wishing with all of me that they would turn into crashing waves and palm trees, and the carefree life, and summer, I want to pursue. Now that I’m stuck, all I can think about is not wanting to be here. I go to get gas with my brother for fun now. We spend 5 minutes in the car blasting music like we don’t feel this way, and then it’s done and we’re back home and he has a full tank of gas. We split back up again as if nothing happened. I’m sitting at my desk, and he’s across the house sitting at his. I know this may seem bleak, and people are telling me to keep myself busy, and that soon it’ll be all over. But if anything I’m more scared for it to end.”

“This whole COVID-19 has been a shock for everyone. Us kids and teenagers never would’ve expected something like this to happen, it’s so crazy to think about. The first few weeks were rough. I wasn’t able to see or hangout with anyone, and that’s really hard for an extroverted person. About the third week is when things real rough. I experienced a wave of depression. That entire week I just didn’t want to get out of bed. I would just lay in bed watching movies and TikTok videos. I couldn’t find motivation to do anything, I didn’t even change my clothes for a few days (gross, I know). Something that confused me the most is that I didn’t even want to eat, which is really strange because I love food. I didn’t have an appetite and wasn’t really interested in doing anything. That went on for about a week and my parents were getting worried about me. They started limiting my time allowed in my room, during my classes only. Then I would have to go do family stuff or go outside with my siblings. That all sort of helped.” 

“I have talked to many friends from all over the world and this country about their experience and government from Turin, Italy, to Vancouver, Canada, and New Rochelle, New York too. It has been sad but very eye opening and informing and I do not regret hearing about all the sides. So many things I have been griping about during this time have been cancelled slowly but surely; everything I was looking forward to is now gone but the key to staying in it is day by day. I have learned since the beginning of this to not only look forward to things but appreciate even more what you are living through, and that you are surviving, and by staying home you are saving people’s lives.” 

“This is a historic time we’re living in and it will be interesting to see how the world comes out of this. I’ve learned a lot about myself in this past month and how my moods shift and how I’m affected by things I think, especially because of how much time I’ve had to think things over. I’ve also just been really happy. I hope that this whole crisis can end sometime soon, though there’s a good chance it won’t, either way, even though I get stressed about school often, that’s currently the worst thing that’s happened in my personal life during this whole crisis, so I’m lucky.”

“Since the outbreak has started, I find myself having so much more time than before, obviously. I have been doing things I wouldn’t normally do. Last night I had a really great experience with my loved one. Him and I had been talking how we really wanted to go stargazing, which was an awesome thought but it was already midnight and we thought it probably wasn’t the best idea to do it right that second. However, something inside both of us made us decide to go out onto the trampoline, lay a whole bunch of blankets down and look at the stars and the moon. I think it was just the idea making us so excited because we both normally wouldn’t do that, especially at midnight. We made a lot of great conversation and we got to see a beautiful sight! We put our phones down and enjoyed being able to look up and see many different things; shapes of the clouds, stars, planes, and the bright moon. Normally I probably wouldn’t just get up in the middle of the night and go lay outside, but this was totally worth it. Although having to stay inside for mostly your whole day, we should always try to find things that make us happy. Watching the moon, clouds and the stars was something really fun to do and I didn’t even have to go anywhere far to do it. So I guess my point is to find something that makes you feel excited, find something that you normally wouldn’t do and do it! It was definitely worth it for me!”

Out of the mouth of babes, some wisdom, some reality, some reminders for us. If you’re lucky enough to be sheltering with a teen, ask them how they’re coping, and ask them how we might find our way back.

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