#Don’tMessWithTheShield: A Little Unexpected, Humorous Teacher Inquiry

I love to laugh, and I feel very fortunate to work with an amazing teaching partner, Paula, who makes me laugh often. We share some good laughs together, including those tears-running-down-your-face chuckles! Yesterday, I was reminded that while there might be some additional stress in education right now, we should not forget about the value in a good laugh. Yesterday’s humour though was brought to you by me, and my questionable problem solving skills! 🙂

As part of Kindergarten Orientation, we got to arrange short, no contact visits with each of our students and a parent or guardian. Since we would be welcoming additional people into our classroom, Paula and I spent our whole day in full PPE: a mask and a shield. I’ve gotten really good with the mask now and can easily wear it for a full day, but the shield is harder. Especially with my glasses on, it fogs up. Even when I take my glasses off, which I do often, I get a lot of additional fog. I’m a mouth breather. Yesterday though, I started to get used to the haze, and made it through the morning in a somewhat foggy covered shield.

Just before lunchtime, I ran into our vice principal. She told me that another teacher on staff found a great way to reduce the fog by creating a few ventilation holes in the foam headband lining. She also mentioned how she saw a principal from another school, who didn’t seem to have the foam lining on her shield. Hers didn’t fog up! Wow! While I mentioned to our VP that I was “embracing the fog,” she commented that I wouldn’t have to anymore. There was a solution. I was intrigued!

When I got back to class, I decided to look at how I could create holes in the foam. I didn’t have a big hole punch, but I wondered if scissors might work. I could certainly cut some circles out. This foam is thick though. Cutting wasn’t working, and instead of having holes, I just had lines. Not good. As I was cutting, I noticed that the foam could be removed from the shield. Is this what the other principal did in order to create her foam-free shield? (Just so you know, it wasn’t. 🙂 ) I pulled, and what do you know, the foam came off! I was excited to see if the shield would be better, but the fogging up actually increased instead of decreased. Oh no!

Now I started to panic. I was having a you’re-going-to-be-in-big-trouble-Aviva moment! What could I do? I decided to ask the kindergarten educators next door, if they had a glue gun. Problem solved. But they didn’t have one, and understandably found my predicament quite amusing. It was at this moment, when I wondered if fixing the face shield was even a possibility, that my fear of getting in trouble increased. This is when the trouble really started, for you see, I have a terrible habit when I’m nervous/scared/worried/anxious about something: I rip things. I am the WORST at a restaurant with straw wrappers and paper napkins. It’s like I create my own snow pile. Yesterday, I didn’t have paper in my hands, but I did have foam. Oh no! That’s when I began ripping the foam pieces into little chunks. All of a sudden, my hands were full of foam. Now what?

I started to play with the shield without the foam lining, and I realized that I could tighten it. The fogging up may have worsened slightly, but the shield was still useable. Okay. A partial solution. This was when Paula decided to go on her lunch, and I sat down to eat. I was looking at the foam pile as I was eating, and I began to think, “Our kids used to glue sponges onto paper using white glue. Why couldn’t I glue some foam pieces onto my shield with our white glue? I could maybe leave a few gaps in between the pieces, and get the same airflow at the other teacher got with her big holes.” A great plan … right?! Wrong!

Moments later, I sent Paula this message …

Unfortunately, the foam pieces didn’t stick to the shield with the white glue, and with the foam absorbing so much glue, all it did was drip glue all over the face shield. If you thought that I couldn’t see before, I might have just exacerbated the problem by a million percent!

The shield, with my glue attempt, is sitting on our table by the door. As @FuntasticTeacher reminded me, Paula did say, “Don’t do anything until I get back!” Apparently, my ability to listen and follow directions is questionable. 🙂 I took her words as more of a suggestion than as a rule. 🙂

Add to that, the problem that we had another classroom visit in 20 minutes, and my shield looked almost opaque with glue. I had no choice but to send out this urgent email to staff begging for help!

In the meantime, our vice principal learned of my face shield woes and came by to ask, “What happened?!” I didn’t have time to get into the details with her before our next visit — which I did do with a highly fogged up face shield — but I went to see her to explain afterwards. Thank goodness for her understanding nature and extra face shield. I think that I’m back to embracing the fog, unless I can get 1:1 support from that teacher in CORRECTLY making the holes in the foam.

The brand new shield. I think that I’ll learn to “embrace the fog.”

I wonder if this is a case where …

  1. the process is better than the product,
  2. there’s value in learning to laugh at yourself,
  3. sometimes even with a growth mindset, you need to know when to step back and start again, and
  4. when a mess happens, don’t forget to hear the story of the learning.

Imagine if I was a child in the classroom. Might I have gotten in trouble for my choices, or might I have been supported in my attempts to at least try to problem solve?

When I tweeted about this experience last night, I received this reply.

I mentioned that we didn’t actually have a group of students in class today, to which Laurie said,

Kids are not the only ones that can experiment, reflect, play, and inquire. How often as educators do we engage in this process, and how often do we share it? As another school week soon begins, I might be chanting to myself, #Don’tMessWithTheShield, while still wondering, if I did borrow that glue gun, would my solution have worked?


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