The Atlantic

What Teacher Friends Talk About When Students Aren’t Listening

“I don’t know how I’m going to get through the day. I’m not in the place that I need to be, to be positive for the kids. Give me a boost; I need a laugh.”
Source: Wenjia Tang

Each installment of The Friendship Files features a conversation between The Atlantic’s Julie Beck and two or more friends, exploring the history and significance of their relationship.

This week she talks with two elementary-school teachers, both in their 16th year of teaching. They have been friends since the beginning of their careers, but they’ve never faced a school year like this one. They discuss how their relationship built their confidence as educators, the toll that pandemic schooling is taking on students, and how they’re supporting each other, so they can in turn support the kids.

The Friends:

Trevor Ferguson, 38, a fourth-grade math and science teacher who lives in Tampa, Florida.
Amy Gabriel, 39, a fifth-grade math and science teacher who lives in Tampa.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


Julie Beck: You’ve been friends for most of your teaching careers at this point, right?

Trevor Ferguson: We’ve been close ever since we met, during our first year of teaching.

That winter we were attending a conference in Jacksonville [for the Florida

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