Tuesday was the first day of school, but today was the first full day of distance learning classes for our students. And it was hard.

Don’t get me wrong. We got to see all kinds of little virtual faces light up and smile when seeing their teachers and classmates, hearing them share about a favorite toy or something they like doing. I got to hear about a 3rd grade boy’s cat and his classmate’s followup question of whether or not the cat can do tricks (the answer was no, unfortunately).

I checked in with my teachers at the end of the day via email (because, you know, distance learning). I’ve never had so many teachers feeling so defeated on the first day of school. Exhausted, yes, because we are out of shape for teaching after being away all summer. But not defeated. Not wondering if they can keep teaching this year. We even had a teacher talk about quitting already. This is after two teachers quit before workshops because they didn’t want to teach this way this year.

It’s hard for everyone. Operations teams are trying to figure out how to serve lunch and get kids to school on busses. HR departments are trying to figure out how to accommodate employees with health conditions and fear over COVID. But teachers take their jobs very personally, more so than most. And for them to feel like they’ve failed on day one? It’s devastating.

I am hopeful that tomorrow will be a better day. Kids will have had some practice logging in and knowing where to find their assignments. Teachers will feel a bit more comfortable with the tools they’re using. I hope they can feel like they got a win tomorrow to send them into the weekend on a more positive note.

As a principal, it gives me an almost helpless feeling because I know there are many parts of this I can’t help them fix. I can’t control whether or not students can get online (though I did help a few parents troubleshoot today). I can’t control if the technology works as it’s supposed to. And I can’t bring us back in person, though I know that would alleviate a lot of their stress.

But I will be back at it tomorrow, checking in on them, providing training, problem solving with them, and making sure I can get as many obstacles out of their way as possible. And I am hoping that we don’t lose really good teachers because of all of this.