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Copper is a metal that can be used for a variety of jobs — it is extremely durable, naturally antibacterial, and only becomes more beautiful with age and proper care. Along with its versatility, it is also a self-healing material. As scratches are made on the surface, they naturally buff away over time, leaving the area even shinier. In this way, it is similar to human bones — the area in which they have broken, once healed, are stronger than ever before.

I’m sure we are all sick of hearing about “these unprecedented times” that we have found ourselves in circumstantially. There is no rule book on how we’re supposed to act, and our biggest job has been to follow the CDC guidelines: Stay home, wear a mask, wash your hands.

Every other responsibility has taken a backseat.

When I think of this past semester, I think of the skills I am garnering to serve my future students. Adaptability, resilience of spirit, and most of all, hope in the face of trying times.

Before cancellations started rolling out, I had really begun to put myself into my early field experience work. My mentor teacher and I had laid the foundations for a schedule that worked for both of us, and I had been introduced to nearly all of her teacher friends and her own mentors. On my last day as a student teacher, I sat down with the principal of the school for a class period to get an inside look at what a day in the life of a principal looked like. Neither of us knew that our jobs were about to change completely — it was the last formal conversation I had that went without mention of any virus or public health protocol. At the end, he offered me a handshake and a squeeze of hand sanitizer directly after. When I think of it now, I think of how he didn’t choose to not shake my hand — instead, he opted for a bit of human contact, insured by an act of symbolic sanitation directly after. He compromised his act with care, and it made all the difference.

Now, teachers have been performing the same act, with different resources. They are still delivering the much needed shred of normalcy, of human contact, of kindness, no matter their subject area or the age of their students. Teachers have served as a backbone, delivering learning materials, food, and other necessities to the families of their students.

The state of the world has allowed for people, individuals and groups, to show their true colors, and I have never been more confident in my decision to become a teacher. Teachers across the world have not allowed the pandemic to dilute their love for their students, nor have they allowed it to break the barrier of education. This is what teaching is. It is resilience and reliability. It is role modeling in the most honest of ways. It is sharing the human experience.

I am proud, and I am scared. I am learning how to bear the weight of responsibilities in the wake of this fear. This semester, I have been broken and bent. But like copper, and like my very skeleton, I will come away from this stronger than ever before.

Susannah Oxley, 21, is an incoming senior at Boise State University studying English education.

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