A soft opening for the first two days in my district. Half of the students are experiencing their 1st day back to school today; the rest will have their 1st day tomorrow.

New position, new grade levels, 3 buildings, no classroom, limited materials, no sharing of supplies. I teach art.

In the age of a pandemic, here are my take-aways:

I have over planned and have felt under prepared, since March, to transition from secondary to elementary, and felt anxious with stress and overwhelmed until the moment I stepped foot into a classroom this morning.

The new-to-me faculty was so welcoming and generous, despite feelings of uncertainty, like most educators at this time.

Elementary was energizing. It was fun. The artists were excited. I remember this excitement from my first teaching position as a k-12 art teacher.

I felt a sense of renewal. I am in the right place for me in my career at this time.

I had a difficult time avoiding touching my face, adjusting my glasses, my mask, and trying not to suck in my mask while I breathed and projected my voice to all of my young artists who were spread out 3-6’ apart in each classroom.

I long for my classroom studio. I miss a studio space for my artists to create art, with access to a variety of materials and tools, collaborating on artwork beside each other.

A cart is not an art room.

While it will take practice, the kids did a great job with their masks, but for some it was a chore to keep it on their face.

How can one actually socially distance as an educator?

Despite my excitement during the day, my thoughts continually circled back to this invisible virus that could be lurking in any one of the spaces I occupied. Am I carrying it home with me? Did I breathe it in somehow? Will it be there tomorrow? Should I have changed clothes when I got home? Taken a shower? Should my family be doing this, too?

I’m excited for tomorrow. I’m nervous about the future. This return to school is bittersweet. I’m thankful that I am a teacher. I’m even more thankful that I am an art teacher.