A year ago, I was packing up lunches at my South Side school for what most of our staff thought would be a few weeks of shutdown.
But not me. I knew the history of pandemics, having taught it to middle schoolers. I predicted we’d be out for probably a year — or more.
This whole year as a teacher has been very educational. I think it’s important to recognize what you learn out of any situation, good or bad.
I learned a lot about valuing my own skills as an educator. I very successfully led two classrooms of fourth and fifth grade students to learn a great deal about the world around them.
I helped students connect with others and supported them through a very difficult time with grace and courtesy. I advocated for their representation and well-being.
I created the first-ever gamer club at my school, and have been having a blast sharing my hobby with like-minded students while watching them enjoy socializing with each other.
Some lessons have been more difficult to learn. I am disgusted by the choices made by the city of Chicago government regarding schools and reopening — teacher’s safety has not been a priority.
So I had to learn how to protect myself.
I’ve been able to set clear boundaries and have taken a leave of absence this month to prioritize my physical and mental health. I used to sacrifice my time — and my well-being — for my job. Now, I have a new perspective on what’s actually worth protecting. I love myself at a higher level.
Since the start of this pandemic, I’ve learned how strong I am. I’ve been a support for my friends, for my family and for my students. I trust myself and my judgment more.
About the author: Mel Georgiou is a nerdy elementary school teacher who has lived in Chicago for almost 10 years.