Hoping for Good Days

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Hoping for Good Days

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It was several months since my last day in a classroom. March 13, 2020 to be exact. Friday the 13th. The previous school year we were told it was to be a possible 2 week break that ended up going until the end of the year. What was to become of the next school year of 2020-21? I tried to stay optimistic over the summer and enjoy the time spent with family. We were lucky to have each other and have a yard and house where we felt safe to be quarantined. I knew a lot of my students were not so lucky in that they lived in apartments with several family members. Still I wanted to be optimistic about the upcoming year.
As the start of school year date got closer, it was apparent we were to continue online teaching via zoom. I felt I was pretty tech savvy and could integrate technology enough to keep my students engaged, but it was still challenging. I taught incoming freshman 9th grade students. They did not get the “new students” experience of coming to my school and meeting and greeting all the faculty and each other. Initially the expectation was to have all students have cameras on, and for the most part in that Fall semester, my students did. But then towards the break students started getting sick, parents were losing their jobs, some even lost family members. People were sad. We barely made it into the winter break with students attending “online”. I was fortunate to have most of my students log in but in other classes students stopped showing up. And if they did log in, cameras were off and it felt like talking to a void. Were they still paying attention? Were some of them just logging in and doing other things like playing video games or sleeping? I was frustrated, but also empathetic knowing for a lot of these students survival, not academics, was their priority during the time.
After the winter break and a return to zoom teaching, it was a palpable sadness. There were people who had lost loved ones, and my students were depressed. I could feel the grief and sorrow through the screen and sometimes I would weep after my classes ended for the day. I had to maintain a persona of optimism for my students online and also keep encouraging their academic pursuits. I have never had such a challenging teaching year like the 2020-21 year.
The sensory experience I am recalling is sometime in February of 2021. It was the second semester of school, back from the break and many people had a rough time of the holiday season with loneliness, fear, and loss. I don't know how I came up with the idea but I thought about students sharing playlists with the class. I would review them, and if we had a test together on zoom I would play songs on the background. One particular song I found was “Good Days” by SZA. It was not my style of music, but I knew it was what my students listened to. The day I played that song I started to get a lot of feedback from the zoom chat from all my classes about that song. By this time a majority of students had stopped showing themselves on camera and/or stopped talking, however Good Days sparked something in my students. The intro of the song is very melodic and serene. It is one of those songs that sounds very sweet, but is very sad at the same time. I could tell by the response of my students that it hit a nerve. A few of them began to speak up again in class, a few would turn their camera on again. And of course, I had several sending messages after class thanking me for the song. This happy/sad song connected me again to my students that I thought I had lost over winter break. It gave me a little hope again, and I think it gave some of them hope too. Now, whenever I hear Good Days by Sza it reminds me of those lonely online zoom classes in February and how we were all feeling a bit sad, but a simple song gave us all a bit of hope that the future was to have some Good Days ahead.

Lyrics to Good Days
All the while, I'll await my armored fate with a smile
Still wanna try, still believe in (good days)
Good days, always (good days)
Always inside (always in my mind, always in my mind, mind)
Good day living in my mind

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Audio of a song

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This item was submitted on August 21, 2022 by [anonymous user] using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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