Teachers Share How Heartbreaking it Was to Pack Up Their Classrooms This Year

Teachers Going Back in Their Classroom to Pack Up is Heartbreaking

A roller coaster of emotions hit teachers at the conclusion of this school year as they stepped into their classrooms to pack up for the summer. Teachers usually spend their last days reflecting on the school year: What went well this year? What can I do better next year? What will I miss the most about this class? What do I need to do for myself this summer so I can recharge for the fall? Now, more than ever, these reflections feel incomplete as teachers sense a lack of closure to the 2019-2020 school year.

The NY Times reported that both teachers and students displayed signs of increased amounts of stress due to abrupt social and academic changes this school year. Amidst the scramble to begin distance learning, teachers faced new stressors, like trying to make connections with students virtually, supporting children enduring trauma while at home, and teaching equitably from afar. Educators were overcome with feelings of sadness and confusion when returning to their classrooms for the first time in months. 

“All packed up, no one to hug”

It is customary for teachers to send students off with an end-of-year gift, a summer treat, and a final hug goodbye. Staring at a packed-up classroom with no accompanying hugs this year was overwhelming for teachers everywhere.

“This is not how I wanted my first year to end, but we did what had to be done!”

“It felt good to be in my classroom again, but so bittersweet without my kids.”

There are two things that teachers have missed most while teaching from home: their students and their classroom. Given the opportunity to enter the classroom again seemed exciting, but as teachers started to look around the room, being there felt bittersweet. The date on the board still said it was March, students’ sweaters still hung from the cubbies, and a bookmark was placed in the middle of a read-aloud book. The school year lacked closure.

“While I was packing up my classroom and signing off of my final video chat today, I realized how much I’ll miss these kiddos.”

With little time to transition into distance learning, there wasn’t much energy left in teachers to fully digest how much they missed teaching their students in person. Part of the packing-up process involves stripping away name tags around the room to prepare for next year’s class. Something about ripping away students’ names this year felt confusing. Will I really not see this group of students together in our classroom again? While standing in the middle of a kid-less classroom, teachers felt a piece of their heart missing: their students. 

I have “so many unanswered questions.”

We all have so many questions that no one seems to have the answers to. To name just a few: Will we always need to wear a mask in our classroom? When will things be “normal” again? When will we be allowed back in our classrooms? What will the fall look like? This feeling of the unknown is unsettling, but teachers will continue to be flexible for their students’ sake.

“Although this is not how I wanted to end the school year, I had an amazing class, amazing coworkers, and I definitely learned a lot through it all.”

Potentially one of the only uplifting reflections from the conclusion of this school year is that teachers realize what they truly appreciate day-to-day. All faculty and staff in the field of education stepped outside of their comfort zone, leaned on the support of their friends and family, and found new meaning and respect in the world of education this school year.  

“Ready for a new magical adventure”

Closing the chapter on the 2019-2020 school year, and opening our hearts to a new set of students next year.

“There are so many things that I am going to miss about my room.”

Yes, teachers miss their students more than anything, but our classrooms are also our second homes. In fact, many teachers spend MORE time in their classrooms than in their homes. Getting just a short amount of time back in our second homes to pack-up felt like a tease. 

“I stare at my classroom that seems to be frozen in time…then I find myself in panic mode”

While many of these reflections forced teachers’ stomachs to tie up in knots, no challenge is too far fetched for today’s teachers. Through it all, nothing will stop an educator from providing anything less than the best for their students.

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Teachers Share How Heartbreaking it Was to Pack up Their Classrooms This Year

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Jenna Marcal


Jenna is a 5th grade teacher in Upstate New York! She loves to cook, dance, and dance while cooking! When she's not taking care of her succulent babies, Jenna can be found grading a stack of papers with one hand and holding a chilled glass of white wine in the other.

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