LIFE AFTER: "Dear Class of 2020"
Dear Class of 2020,
When you first entered my class, I asked you to take part in an assignment I called, “A letter to your freshest teacher (aka Mr. Eroles aka Mr. E)” where you described who you are to help me mold my lessons in a way that would best fit your learning style. It’s weird to think that months later I find myself sitting in my house instead of my classroom, attempting to write y’all a letter to convey a sense of hope and understanding during this odd time created by COVID-19. But if I’m being honest, after reading your emails and messages to me, I still have no idea what the right things to say are. However, I feel that my failure to find the right words is the result of my belief that you’re now ready.
I take pride in what I like to call ninja teaching. Maybe it’s all the Naruto I watched, but I love teaching lessons without making it obvious that you’re learning. It amuses me when I see y’all thinking you’re cruising through my class when in reality each day is building up the next. I live for the moment we reach the end of the year and you take your last steps out of my room, realizing you’re no longer the same person you were when you first walked in because of how much you learned in my class through the discussions we had and the projects you completed.
To make this happen for this year’s classes, I created a classroom environment that feels more like the real world than the typical high school bubble you’re used to by empowering y’all through an emphasis on community and choice. Since the first day, I never made things complicated. I gave you the choice of where to sit and who you sat next to. I gave you the choice to take your education into your own hands and pass or fail how you wanted. I gave you the choice to be your own person in a system that seems like it wants you to be like everyone else. Why?
Because that’s simply how life works-- you make a choice and you deal with the results, good or bad.
Now we’re in a position that is new, scary, and life-changing all at the same time. You’re going to have to decide how you want to proceed in all aspects of your world, but at its core, this situation isn’t any different from the time spent in our class. Through the work you put into my lessons, you’ve proved that you’re ready to take on the challenges currently put in front of you because you’ve already been the one making the decisions.
This year, you’ve been forced out of my class a few months too soon. I didn’t get to tell you how much damn fun I had teaching this year and how inspiring it was to be around classes full of such promising and creative young adults. But there are still lessons to be learned and a few more things I got left in my bag of tricks that I’m sure will be worth your time.
As we (virtually) stand together as the community we worked to forge, I promise that your classmates and I are here to talk, listen, and grow in regardless of the environment we are placed in. With how things are going, it may feel like you can’t make a difference, but I assure you that you still have control; you still have a choice.
After weeks of dealing with the utter shock and sadness that I wouldn’t get to interact with you all in my classroom again, I’ve accepted that all I can do now, as your teacher, is make it clear that the time we did share there was not wasted and spend these last two months continuing to prepare you for life after high school.