Let me start with a confession: I have not been a good teacher this year. Or last year. Or, really, since some time in late spring of 2020. I know that I am supposed to cut myself some slack, be gentle, find grace, recognize that we are all in the same boat (or at least weathering the same storm), but, really? I just have not been a good teacher. Today, I asked my students to give me some feedback. Being the good eighth graders that they are, their first question was, “Is this graded?” When I explained that not only was it not graded, but that it was going to be completely anonymous, there was a little buzz in the room. I got nervous. I gave them a bit more insight into my motivation, explaining to them that I often ask students at the end of the year to give me honest feedback, but that this was the first time I was doing it mid-way through a school year. I told them that between the major capital project that is decimating our school and displacing our learning space on a regular basis, the last almost-two years in a global pandemic and our most recent move to optional masking, the time felt right to reassess and rethink how we —how I— do things. The responses began to come in. Had this been a giant mistake? I had to start to process it. I was way off on so many things! I had planned a read aloud (there were only two students who thought that was a good idea) and, apparently, the “dynamic” slide decks and interactive activities from (Insert the name of Big Corporate School Resource for Nonfiction Material) were really dreaded worksheets! All they wanted was time to write, read and talk to one another. I sat in front of my computer, reading through their comments. They were gentle, but they were honest. A colleague and a friend sat down next to me. She retired two years ago and now comes in to "selectively sub" for those of us she truly likes. She has known me for almost twenty years and she knows what is in my heart. She began to read my computer screen. I told her about my experiment, about how I had become a worksheet teacher. She laughed and listened to me talk through the students’ responses and my reaction to them. She quietly drank her coffee and heard me wondering out loud about how I could have gotten to this point. She thumbed through her well-worn appointment book and watched me mine through the data, trying to find nuggets of myself, of the teacher I used to be. There was not much there. I was deflated and on the edge. I closed my computer and sat quietly across from my friend. Finally, she said, “Amy, they just want you. They just want to be in your workshop, but they don’t even know what that is!” Workshop, true workshop, has not been a part of my pandemic teaching life. First, it was impossible to replicate through zoom. Then, it was too disparate during the time of the Hybrid Disaster. Finally, masking and social distancing kept us from conferring and holding one another's papers. There are so many reasons why I have drifted so far away from an authentic writer’s workshop, but the truth is that it is hard. It takes so much of me to make it really work. I haven’t had a lot left to give, but now I feel like I don’t have a choice. As my friend pointed out, just giving them the space to provide honest feedback gave the students renewed ownership of the classroom. It was a first step and I feel like it is impossible to stop this momentum.