by Tammie Huff, literacy coach
College Park Elementary
I can remember not very long ago, my school was filled with brilliant students, dedicated teachers, and a wonderful staff who made coming to work feel like HOME. Everyone greeted each other. Students could be seen trying to get that last bit of conversation in with friends, before arriving to class. Teachers visualized what the day would be like, while waiting outside their rooms to greet students in their own special way. Routines were in place, and things were good.
Suddenly, life changed without much warning. No more standing at my post in the morning to greet students as they passed by. I never imagined there would be no more gentle smiles and countless hugs that lasted until the next day. No more “Hi Mrs. Huff, “Let me tell you what I learned,” or “Did you know my birthday is in two days?” Who would have thought that things would come to an abrupt halt?
I miss going into classrooms, working with teachers, and helping students improve their reading skills. It was always a joy to see students’ eyes light up when I entered the room. Unknowingly, they had a way of making you feel like a superstar. Some students would even scurry to grab a book in hopes that I would sit and listen to them read that day. Students knew it was time to either meet one-on-one or in a small group. Although the conversations were centered around reading, students knew they had my undivided attention. It is times like these that make you long for the chance to teach a student a new word or model a strategy that would stick with them for a lifetime.
Now my days are spent working behind the scenes, thinking of them often, and looking for opportunities to join their morning meetings. I also share great books and prompt students to engage in book talks through Flipgrid. You should see the huge smile that is plastered upon my face every time I view a students’ response. I think of it as my social emotional learning sessions for the day. Sure, academics is important, but just seeing their faces and hearing their voices makes everything else appear irrelevant.
When you can’t do what you love, it really does have an effect on you. I try to be strong for my family, friends and colleagues, but there are times when I am sad. It is during these times that I find solace in writing.
One evening, my heart was extra heavy as I thought of students and their families. Fifth graders are moving on to middle school and seniors are graduating. I wished for a magic wand in hopes of erasing all their sadness. I didn’t have a wand, but I had a pencil and paper. So, I was inspired to write a poem for students all over the world. The poem, “Remember You Got This!” was written to remind students of the precious moments that have happened in their lives, and to press on even during the hard times. I am encouraged to stay positive and hopeful.