This is my 21st year going back-to-school as a teacher with the Board. I love back-to-school time. Yes, when the Staples commercials used to come on too early in the summer they caused me stress, but by the middle of August, I was excited to start thinking about the classroom again.
This really is like Christmastime for me with …
- the new school supplies,
- a new wardrobe,
- new connections with parents and families,
- exciting new picture books to share with the class,
- and the start of a classroom set-up. I know that the room arrangement slowly changes as the kids appear, and that makes me even more excited.
I become giddy with anticipation, and even the 4:45 alarm clock doesn’t stress me out. Nothing can bring me down.
This year is different though. The rising COVID numbers mean that restrictions are in a constant state of flux. I spent a lot of time last night reading the press releases and listening to the recordings from this week’s various media events.
This past Wednesday, I was a guest on VoicEd Canada’s This Week In Ontario Edublogs Podcast. The initial conversation was about what will school look like in the fall? The truth is, I’m not sure. I have some inklings and evolving ideas based on information shared online, but I think that safety considerations continue to ping-pong the reality. And while I absolutely, positively want the safest reopening plan possible, Doug Peterson‘s blog post this morning made me realize how much I’m struggling with a changing routine.
Usually, at this time of the year, I’d be making …
- trips to Dollarama for new buckets, tape, and my favourite plasticine of all time,
- trips to Staples for Sharpies,
- and trips to Walmart for cheap deals on school supplies,
but I haven’t gone anywhere yet. I’m still trying to figure out with Paula …
- what do we need?
- what materials can kids use this year?
- how much of each item do we need? If sharing is possible, what will that look like, especially if we need forward facing desks in rows?
I know that we’ll continue to hear more throughout the week, and I know that we’ll adjust given whatever restrictions need to be in place, but I also know that I’m missing that flurry of excitement that’s become synonymous for me with the end of summer. Maybe I need to find another good book and get lost in that instead, but I don’t want to. I want my most wonderful time of the year, and I’m trying to figure out how to recapture that joy. What are you doing to help with this? If my nervous stomach could be due to a flurry of anticipation instead of a flurry of worries, I think it would make a big difference. I know that I need my Christmas in September back again … even with the never-ending COVID craziness. Do you?
Well, we certainly didn’t want to cause you any grief, Aviva. We’re so close to the start of school, it seems like a natural talking point for teachers.
I remember a piece of advice that I got at Teachers’ College. “When you get into your classroom and close the door, it’s all yours and you leave the outside world behind.” I always thought that that was wise advice and did it in the early years. Later on though, I realize the real power comes from networking with colleagues.
But, maybe that initiative piece of advice will serve as comfort for teachers getting started this fall. It’s not quite Christmas in September but I don’t think that anyone believes that we’ll be back to normal any time soon.
By their nature, teachers are giving, sharing people and we know at times to their detriment. Maybe it’s time to be selfish about keeping yourself safe and yourself #1 at least to get started and then experiment with that gradual release?
You’d like to think that there are some smart people out there who have figured it out. I see lots of opinion and lots of ideas but we won’t know for sure for a while. Looking after oneself seems to be the best advice for me at present.
My apologies Doug if my post implied otherwise: you didn’t cause me any grief at all. Yes, our conversation on Wednesday made me think more about the start of school, but I’ve been wondering about it for weeks. It’s funny, as last year, when school started, I wanted nothing more than for everything to go back to normal. Now I’m okay with the difference. I think we can still make a lot work within the restrictions and keep everyone safe. For me, I need to know a starting point. What are the restrictions? What’s possible? With increasing numbers in Hamilton, the rules understandably keep changing, but this makes it harder to know a starting point. My hope is that we’ll know more this upcoming week.
Your advice though really made me think about a conversation that I had with a friend recently. I think that COVID has shown us that at times, it’s okay — and even valuable — to put ourselves and our health first. I’m so excited to see kids and get back to school again, but yes, I also want health and safety at #1. So if that means that there are certain things that can’t be done right away, or need to be done differently, maybe that’s okay. Thank goodness for my teaching partner, Paula, and her creativity. I love that we can work out some of these unknowns together, and maybe that will also help in the coming weeks. Thanks for “talking/writing” this out with me.
I feel you so so much throughout this whole post.
I also agree with everything you say about safety first – here in Switzerland, schools opened two weeks ago, with maks restrictions for tsudents and teachers only while they are moving in the classroom – if they are sitting, they can take them off. That really stresses me out, as there are people coughing (I teach adults in business schools here, but thankfully three to five times a month) – I can’t imagine the panic and fear if I had to teach them like this on a daily basis. The numbers are really high here, so even those few times that I go there stress me out. And I totally understand you when you say that you need to have some stability in this whole situation, as much as possible. I hope that the government there will think (hoefully, we haven’t seen it so far that much) of what is safe for teachers and students, and that will bring you some peace of mind.
The good thing is that the majority of my work are private lessons, and all my students have been amazing as I have told them we will continue online for as long as necessary, for everyone’s safety – they not only have accepted it, but even like it as a solution to not have to commute to where I live to come for their lessons. So there has been a silver lining to this all along : )
I always love your annual trips to Dollarama, Staples and Walmart, and for as long as we have been connected online, your Instagram has been a little window into my Canadian stationery dream ; ) Switzerland is great, but stationery can be a bit expensive and there is not such a huge variety.
I am absolutely positive that the day will come when we will be looking back on all this and we will be healthy and safe, and glad that even with the lacking measures of our governments, we tried to do the best for us and our students. And we will be going on stationery shopping sprees : )
Sorry I went a bit crazy with my comment there ; ) I wish you, Paula and your studnets a great school year!
Thanks so much, Vicky, for your comment! It’s so interesting to hear what other countries are doing. I’m incredibly grateful that all of our kids are masked when indoors, and not just when moving around. I’m sure that we’ll hear more on Monday about other restrictions, and can then plan accordingly. Yes, I wish that we could go back to what we had before, but I’m thankful for safety first.
I’m thinking about you right now, Vicky, with how your restrictions are right now. I’m glad to hear that you can continue online with your private clients. Please stay safe. I would love to be able to shop with you for stationary and other school supplies one day. Imagine the possibilities!
Have a great year!
Thank you so much for your kind thoughts! I’ll be thinking of you too and wishing you a safe year with the kids.
And as soon as the virus goes away, I need to come over to Canada for my PhD research, so a trip for school supplies with you will be the absolute best! ❤️💕
Take good care,
Thanks so much, Vicky! I would love that so much. We will make it happen one day.
Take good care too!
Thank you Aviva, for expressing what I believe most teachers are feeling.
While the classroom preparation, in this current climate of limited information and communication, has lost its excitement of previous years, that is offset by the excitement of students. They are returning to school with all the pent up energy and motivation of what has been for some of them (yours in particular) a large proportion of their lives!
It’s not the toys in the room, but the kids themselves that will reinvigorate you. I know that as soon as you meet them, your bucket will be full.
My first day of Kindergarten was memorable to me because of my teacher and my new friends. Our room was the former gym, and held only a piano, a rolling cart with a few books, a box of wooden blocks, and a pencil sharpener on the wall. There were no black boards, and I don’t even remember bulletin boards. But I do remember singing and dancing “The Farmer in the Dell” in a circle in the room, taking a rest on my towel on the floor, and running in the field behind the school.
I know your classroom is much richer already, and will be so for each of your tiny students!
Thanks for your comment, Terry! I have no doubt that seeing the kids will have a huge, positive impact on me. They invigorate me all year long, and I’m thrilled to be able to see them again (uncertainty and all). You do a great job of reminding me of this important point here. I wonder if having classes confirmed early next week, so that we can contact families and begin building relationships with everyone, will change the flurry of worry to the flurry of anticipation. I think it will.
I guess that I know what an impact environment has on learning, and Paula and I are trying to get our heads wrapped around what that might look like this year. This is harder to do when information is forth-coming. But we did get a few updates last night, and I think that more will be on the way early this week. As we know more about environment, we also know more about materials — and that helps. Then the kids will arrive, and things can change (for the better) along with them.
Have a great school year, Terry!