COVID-19 in the eyes of a teacher


Blanche Harris

COVID-19 has forced teachers to adjust to an online setting during class. AP English IV teacher Matthew Bowden discusses the importance of being there for Coppell High School students despite the adversity teachers face.

Matthew Bowden, Guest Writer

When I began teaching here at Coppell High School 23 years ago, I had grand visions of changing the world one young person at a time, building lifelong bonds with my students just like John Keating from Dead Poets Society or Mr. Turner from “Boy Meets World.”

For the most part, my career has fulfilled those expectations. I have always had a strong rapport with my students, and I have built a lifetime of memories.

I love the whole high school experience: the classroom work, Socratic discussions, extracurriculars, clubs, athletics, pep rallies, celebrations, dances, prom and relationships. I love it all. It’s why I became a teacher. 

So what happens when all of that changes? What do we do when that is taken away? What do we do when our classrooms are half empty and we are trying to connect with kids via Zoom meetings and digital smiles on a screen? What do we do when we have to stay six feet apart? 

Well, we do exactly as we have always done. We persevere and do whatever we can to make things as normal as possible for our students. That is why we became teachers, and that is what John Keating and Mr. Turner would do. 

I know our students want things to return to normal as much as we do. They want to be in class, laughing with their friends. They want to go to pep rallies in preparation for Friday night football games. They want a homecoming dance and a prom. They want things to be normal again. 

We must continue to do whatever it takes. We must continue to connect with our students who are in class and use Zoom with those who are not. We must continue to touch base via email and phone call, making sure they are doing OK and that we notice when they aren’t present. We must continue to hold our heads up high and be strong for those around us, students and colleagues alike. We must continue to bring levity when possible to let them know that we’ve got this and everything will be alright. 

Most importantly, we must continue to smile, whether others can see it or not. 

Human beings have a habit of taking things for granted – a habit I have often struggled with. As it turns out, I took my teaching job for granted. Or at least some fundamental aspects of it. 

I didn’t fully realize how much I love it and it took the COVID-19 pandemic flipping our world upside down to notice. I never knew how important student-teacher bonds were until I found myself staring out at an empty classroom, struggling to remember faces and names on a screen. 

But have all of these things really been taken away? No. Although classrooms have changed drastically, we still have a campus of students relying on us to teach them and guide them through these turbulent waters. 

As students slowly start to return to campus and things start to look more and more like they did pre-COVID, I am reminded just how much our kids need us. In fact, they need us more than ever before. They may not say so, but they do. 

And we will be there for them. We will persevere. We are relentless, and this is what teachers do.


Matthew Bowden teaches English at Coppell High School. Follow Mr. Bowden (@mwbowden71) and @CHSCampusNews on Twitter.