I am a mom of two awesome children who teach me more than I ever thought possible. I love writing, exercise, movies, and LGBT advocacy.
Salute An Educator Today!
World Teachers' Day 2020 - A Very Different Year
As I am writing this, I am about to get ready to don a mask and face shield and stand in front of 34 students in the hopes that they will learn something about the French language today.
If this were any other year than 2020, 34 students being in my classroom is something I actually really look forward to, and truth be told, I am looking forward to seeing my students now. However, due to COVID-19, I am acutely aware that my students, who are sitting as far apart as I can physically get them without breaking down a wall or something crazy like that, might be feeling somewhat wary that we have so may students in the room. Group work is gone. Face to face discussions between them? Non-existent, which is really strange for a senior level French class, but how can you have them running a dialogue when they A. can't physically distance and B. if they can't physically distance, they have to be facing forward?
I am grateful that my students - regardless of age or academic level - have actually adapted incredibly well to this new educational reality. They are fatigued on levels I've never really seen previously, largely because at the high school level they are now required, at least in my non-designated board, to be in the same class more or less for four hours at a time and possibly five if they can't go home for lunch and leave the classroom for a break. It's tough to handle that much of any one thing all at once, and let's face it, we all have our limits.
Educators are doing everything they can to make this new educational reality fly. While I can't speak for all educators, I can speak to my own experiences, and I can tell you, it's just really great to be back in class with students again. I dislike having to wear the face shield for those weeks when I can't socially distance from my students, such as this week when I have a class of 34 students that I am trying very hard to ensure are engaged and as comfortable as possible with a mask that can cause students to forget to drink water and potentially muffle words a little bit. It's my responsibility to try and ensure students feel secure in spite of these very uncertain times, and to ensure that all my other employment responsibilities are met as well.
There are limited clubs, which students are used to having. There are no sports due to proximity concerns. There are students who live a reality where clubs and/or sports are very definitely what keeps their mental health positive, and without extracurricular sports, some students are feeling somewhat adrift. It's our responsibility as teachers to ensure these students continue to feel reassured that one day, there will be a time where school feels back to normal, but for the time being, we have to live with this odd reality that is COVID-19.
There are also educators who are worried about the safety of their children or grandchildren at home. There are educators who have worried about the safety of their students when they leave the school, whether it's because the students have little food security or because their home is not safe for them. School in 2020 seems a lot less about curriculum right now than it does about maintaining our mental health and those of the students in our care and the children in our lives.
But because we're educators, we press on. We try and adapt as quickly as possible to the changing realities around us in spite of our own elevated stresses and we try to continue to be the role models our students and our own children look to when it comes to resilience and growth. We cry privately or with each other when our own stresses make things look bleak, and believe me when I say there have been many times over the last few months that many educators have felt that. We smile to provide that positive face for our students because we know they might need that just as much as we do.
If anyone had said previously that we would be educating during a global pandemic and doing things we'd never even dreamed about when we first entered teachers' college many years ago, most of us probably would have laughed, yet here we are. It's World Teachers' Day 2020, and while this job has been incredibly tough this year, I know there's nothing else I could see myself doing.
To my colleagues, we got this.