Finally found the time today to stop, take a breath and reflect on what these last two weeks, on this new “normal” we teachers find ourselves in. Like the rest of us, I have just been trying to get through my days the best I can. In the midst of all this chaos and insanity, much like everyone else, I have been trying to keep my feet on solid ground. Here are a few things I have come to realize.
First off, it is easy to get caught in the whirlwind if you are not careful. It is easy to get overwhelmed trying to keep kids safely apart, masks on, sanitized every 2 minutes. I honestly feel like we are losing tons of solid teaching, connecting time going “Oh okay everyone, lets sanitize, now we are going to line up make sure you are at least an arm’s length apart.” Then it is ensuring the chromebooks we used get wiped down and put away properly, it is trying to remember that our new staggered recess times are at this new time, not the time we are all used to having and needing an extra 5 min to get everyone organized so we can get outside in a COVID safe way. Everything I do now is looked at through the lens of COVID and I will not lie, sometimes it is honestly mind boggling and frustrating.
Next, I am not sure how everyone is doing, but I find myself completely exhausted by the end of the school day. I stagger home to my family and my puppy, spend time with them. By early evening I am done, I have nothing left in the tank. I have used every last bit of energy I had just getting through the day. In years past, there would be days I was tired like this but it would be on days like Demonstration of Learning, or special event days not just a normal class day. It makes me wonder how long until one of us does get sick, because we are leaving ourselves open to something due to being low. I find myself drinking way more water, taking way more vitamins and trying to get much more sleep than I ever have before.
But…. in the midst of all this are my kids. I have a class of 23 grade four students who come in every day, happy to see me, my student teacher and each other. While they are not thrilled wearing masks all day, they do it. While they get tired of lining up socially distanced, they do it. When I tell them they have to sanitize seventy -five times a day, they do it. They do not complain, they might eye roll a bit and sigh, they still do what is needed. They wrote a journal on Friday sharing how much they are enjoying gym, having their own desks, how much fun it is to play at recess with their friends. They are thankful to be in our class family, they accepted that philosophy I shared right at the start. We have a class code we all agreed on and are doing our best to follow. (if you look in prior posts, I have talked about how I try to create a positive class environment in different ways).
Yesterday afternoon, near the end of the day, I looked around and everyone was happily doing their thing. Some were finishing an art mask selfie project, some were finishing up math work, some were on Chromebooks on our class websites. Music was playing quietly in the background, I just sat there and took it all in. I realized that while this new normal may kick my in the pants on a daily basis, if I can find these small pockets of positivity to enjoy, then I might just make it through this year. I just hope the rest of you are doing what you need to do to get through this year the best you can.