I miss this place.

It’s the first day of spring break — well, the COVID-19 spring break that will last well-nigh at least until the first weekend of April, but probably longer. Normally, I’d be delighted to not be there. Teaching is a job that is all-encompassing. It keeps your brain on all the time. So those times off, I look forward to them as a way to exhale. To be able to come back and finish out the year strong.

But now as teachers, students and administrators from my district grapple with being out until April 3 … I miss it. I miss Room 139. I miss the hallways and the students and same white paint everywhere (except the Carolina blue in my room)

I miss that young lady who’s always the first one into my classroom to drop off her lunch in the student fridge. Always.

The young man who doesn’t talk loud enough for me to hear him across the classroom, but loves asking questions about, well, everything. The young man who asks to go to the bathroom at the same time every day in fourth period. Every. Freaking. Day.

My T.A.’s who set to work without me having to ask them to (usually).

And don’t get me started on my student editors. Those wonderful young women and men who give me so much of their heart and time and talent in producing our five student media. I’m still communicating with them via GroupMe as they coordinate coverage and such on all things COVID-19 on our website and make plans to finish up our yearbook.

I miss their laughter and the shit they give me and their really terrible bald jokes. I miss watching them write and design and photograph and edit and just watching them … just … learn. The things you see every day evidently become commonplace in your mind I’m finding out.

We just went on spring break on Thursday. It feels like months ago.

I miss giving a head nod to the colleagues whom I see in the hall and rarely have time to stop and converse with. Or seeing our security guard who knows damn well every student in the hallways and treats every single one like they’re the only student in the hallway.

And I truly miss my friends and colleagues who I can sneak in a quick chat about sports or politics or whatever. Or whom I can ask for help on a lesson or in dealing with a student problem.

There will be a lot in the next couple of months focusing on the negative of all things COVID-19. I’m sure I’ll be doing plenty of that on social media and here as I attempt to get back to writing on a more consistent basis.

But I’m hoping some of us can use it as a way to take some time and get back to old habits. Or create new ones. I’m hoping to maybe get into a couple of new things this break and continue the Photo A Day project I’ve been doing on Instagram.

I’m also hopeful that this enforced time off will help me take stock of the things about my job, my career, my passion that I love. And let me realize that each day with these students — whether they’re the ones who drive me up the damn wall or the ones who make me believe our better angels are winning their fights against stupidity and ignorance — and fellow educators and administrators is a blessing for which I need to be more cognizant of.

Because I miss that place.

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