I Need Visibility

"Change is never easy for me, but trying to make friends and getting to know my colleagues while wearing a mask seems impossible."

English Teacher

English Teacher

South Mecklenburg High School

South Mecklenburg High School

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I have been teaching for 20+ years. This year has been the toughest so far. No question. I have realized that I cannot teach in a box. I keep tripping over myself attempting to do what I thought came naturally to me. Zoom meetings have zapped me of my personality and swindled my ability to make real connections. My biggest challenge is trying to create a community via computers. The biggest success was submitting our 2021 yearbook to the publisher on time. (Our final deadline was March 15th--just weeks after what seemed like a handful of students stepped foot onto campus). At times it seemed impossible, but my staff was resilient.

I miss my 8th graders from last year (shout out to the Seahawks from Community House). We never really got to say goodbye. We were cheated. We needed more time together. We had just returned from a whirlwind trip to Washington, DC and there was so much more we needed to discuss, to share, to learn. I miss those hugs that should have happened on "graduation" day.

I miss the sounds of students. The buzz, the laughter, the pieces of conversation floating through the hallways. It is too quiet now. The empty hallways and parking lots and cafeterias echo. A former principal once described my classroom environment as "controlled chaos." Now I know what she meant and now I know what I miss.

I transferred to South Meck this year--deciding to come "back" to teaching high school. Change is never easy for me, but trying to make friends and getting to know my colleagues while wearing a mask seems impossible. Are we covering up and protecting ourselves or are we hiding behind these pieces of fabric? Can anyone tell I am smiling? Have my expressions been lost?

I have learned that I value relationships above all else. I have learned that I cannot teach in a box. In my heart, teaching is helping my students find their voice, use their words, and connect with their passions. I cannot support them in any of these things until I get to know each of them bit by bit, day by day. I need visibility.

- Amy McNelis

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