Meditation Monday: 15/180, Teaching in Covidlandia

I dare you to try to do anything you are used to in teaching in person this year. You will try to use your old systems, but you will realize that will not work. You will have to train your students to “stand 3 tiles away” from each other, or to stand on a blue X on the floor. It will take all of your energy. You will want to teach content, but they seem to have less and less stamina for challenge the more we are in school…the opposite of a regular year. It feels like the time we get to November they are all going to by lying on their desks…ready to pack it in.

This is my class attempting to have a partner in science today. I had to pre-teach how to do this, then monitor it while it was happening. I had to remind them to make sure there were 3 tiles in between them and their partner. This is above and beyond teaching them the content and just the general “how to talk to a partner.” The fact that they are ROCKING IT and DOING IT, is a testament to them, not to me.

Yes. Yes honey. It feels freaking bonkers and gross. Yes. Yes friend. It makes me feel like I’m making kids feel weird about being near each other. Yes. It’s bumming me out a lot, especially when I think about what this may do to their social development. Yes. Yes of course. It makes me feel like crying.

They are exhausted. They have very little stamina after lunch. They can do about 2 hours of instruction without losing focus or motivation. If I brought the circus in they’d show up for a minute, then zone out again.

That said…they seem to remember everything I say. They have an institutional understanding of how to pay attention to “adult talk.” Anything I say under my breath, anything I do, anything I write down, a facial expression, a sigh, a burp even, they’ve clocked me long before I realize they have.

This my friends, is the evidence of having been at home for TWENTY WEEKS without in-person school. This is the evidence of being with their parents and adults experiencing stress. The.students.have.picked.up.on.every.single.vibration.

I am not surprised. I actually expected this.

There is a lot of generalized anxiety in my classroom. We are in our third and final week of studying Ruby Bridges and integration. They are thoughtful and they are relating to the material. They also mimic things they have obviously heard their parents say, like “all the protests happening now are BAD.” I explained that protesting is a constitutional first amendment right, and the problem comes when people get so angry they create property damage and riots start. Children have spidey senses. They have picked up on every.single.thing their adults have said/felt/exposed them to in the media since the pandemic started.

Some kids said “RUSSIA IS OUR ENEMY.” Another said “GERMANY IS BAD.”

Oh my goodness. This is what happens when we learn history in my classroom.

I had to point out that governments can have issues with each other, and therefore have tense relations, re: USA vs. Russia. That doesn’t make people in Russia “bad,” just like we wouldn’t want anyone from Russia to call us “bad.” I also pointed out that some countries have changed a lot, and yes, student, Germany had some major issues in past during WW1 and WW2 with the Nazis, but the country is actually now an ally of the USA.

Then another kid piped up, “WELL, I KNOW HOW COVID STARTED!” and began to talk about China.

I reminded them about our no-politics rule. My politics definition is going directly to opinion vs. fact. I had to remind the student that we still don’t really know how Covid started, but there are theories and ideas from scientists.

This is exhausting.

It’s all exhausting.

But I WILL NOT give up being the anti-racist teacher that I am, and I WILL NOT just phone it in this year. So many people keep saying “if you just keep the kids alive, then you did your job.”

I am not going to accept or put up with that shit. I am just not. Every one of my students deserves to learn from me. I would be appalled if my children were in school now and their teachers held that sentiment.

Yes, the world has so much going on. At the same time, life has gotten very simple and very complicated. I refuse to let the complications keep me from teaching my students.

I will go slow. But I will teach, dammit.

And I will encourage us all to get more sleep.



Left: me after school feeling like my face could be detached due to the gross feeling of the 10+ hours of wearing a mask

Center: rosacea is coming back due to the moist/sweaty environment in the mask, along with pimples. (make sure to wash and wear a clean one every day…and not the one you just washed, and wash your face upon getting home each day.)

Right: clean face, feels a teeny bit better.

Important things to know about masks:

You really need to have 5-10 masks. If you are wearing the same one every day and not washing it, for 8-10+ hours a day…ew, gross. If you are reusing a paper disposable mask…same.

Trust me. Make/buy a lot of them. You will feel more comfortable and it will make it bearable. Also, everyone has a different comfort level. The one I wore today goes around the back of my head, not my ears, and I like that best. Try many kinds out.

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