Over five years ago now, when I took the Self-Reg Foundations 1 Course, I learned that feelings are complex. We often see the stock photographs of happy, sad, scared, anxious, and the list goes on, but in reality, it’s hard to define feelings in these neat little boxes. Never have I appreciated this knowledge more than with the ups and downs that have come with the COVID-19 pandemic.
In two days, we head back to our classrooms in Ontario. Monday. After 8 days of learning online in our Board: due to two days to deploy devices and get organized. Sometimes I feel as though I’m one of the few educators out there that doesn’t hate remote learning. In fact, there are elements about it that I love, and every time that we go back online, my teaching partner, Paula, and I continue to see students that benefit from this environment. I’m not going to say that it’s for everyone, and sometimes I worry that adult impressions of remote learning can impact on how children view it. We can be very persuasive. That said, I know that many of our students and their families are beyond thrilled to be heading back to the classroom in a couple of days.
Yesterday, I taught from the classroom so that I could set-up for Monday in between meeting times and during our preparation time in the afternoon, and there were numerous excited comments when kids saw my live school background.
I can appreciate all of this happiness, and found myself smiling along with the students, but I think that like many people right now, my feelings don’t end here.
I’m also worried. I live in a multi-generational house right now, and comments such as, “You need to expect that you will get COVID,” terrify me. Yes, I’ve been vaccinated and boostered, and yes, the other people that I currently live with have also been, but will this be enough to protect all of us? We’ve spent years masking, avoiding large gatherings, distancing, hand-washing like crazy, and attempting to always make safe choices, and for two years, this has protected us. Now as I read about what’s happening in other provinces and in the United States, I’m unsure if this will continue to be enough. And the truth is, that no matter what anyone might say about mild cases or preparing myself for the inevitable, I don’t want to get COVID. The news is overwhelming right now. I’ve had to stop reading some of it because I know that I’m going back in a couple of days, and I can’t have all of these scary thoughts swimming around in my head when I do.
I’m scared about the impact that staff and student illness is going to have on the educational system. I know that are different opinions about the value of kindergarten and what children are actually learning when they play all day, but I’m going to tell you that Paula and I along with so many other kindergarten teams, are committed to kids, serious about supporting and extending learning in the classroom, and plan for success every single day. Our program works in large part because of our team approach and the reflecting that’s part of this approach. So what happens if one of us is away sick and there’s no supply? What’s possible in the classroom with just one educator? I want classrooms to continue to be places of creativity, connecting, and learning, and I worry about the impact that illness will have on this. I sent these tweets out into the universe a number of days ago now. I still wonder about these things.
Yes, we’re at the stage in the pandemic where every sore throat, sneeze, and stuffy nose is going to warrant a decision on to send to/go to school or not. I’m so appreciative of families, who will be making this call each morning, and working with us as we try to navigate new screeners together.
On Monday morning, I’ll have a genuine big smile on my face (behind a mask of course), as we welcome numerous students back to school. I’m hopeful that masking and distancing (when possible), plus the vaccines, will be enough to keep us all safe. But know that in addition to this happiness, I also have a nervous stomach that I’m hoping will feel better once we get back into the building and our routine of before. If you, your child, or your families are feeling the same way, I see you. I understand. Let’s give ourselves and others some extra kindness and an additional dose of grace in the days and weeks ahead. This is something that I think we all need right now. Have a great return to school everyone, and please, stay safe!
Thx for sharing your thoughts and feelings. I always appreciate your honest, self-reg focused viewpoint on issues we’re facing in education. I’m nervous too, and am so disheartened that more proactive safety measures have not been taken, such as smaller class sizes, vaccine mandates and proper testing and tracing protocols. I’m frustrated and really quite heartbroken at the damage being done to our publicly funded Ed a system. But more than anything, I’m happy to be going back to connect with my students in-person and to help provide them with some positivity during these challenging times. Good luck to you next week Aviva!
Thanks for your comment, Anne, and for your perspective! Your comment reminds me that kids will need our positivity next week, and despite my uncertainties in some regards, I know that I’ll be really happy to see all of them again in person. Have a great week too, Anne, and stay safe!
I feel everything you have written about here! Worry…frustration…excitement…relief. I have students who were doing okay online. My own children do just fine. I want to be in person but I also really don’t want to get sick. I really, really don’t want my 2 children to get sick! And my husband…well, it could be very disastrous for him even though he’s had all 3 inoculations.
Lisa, I’m so feeling everything that you’re writing here. I’m so excited to be going back into the classroom and teaching the kids in-person, but I’m also incredibly worried for myself, my parents, our students (some of whom are too young to even be vaccinated), and my friends and colleagues as well. I don’t want any of us to get COVID. I know many people that have had all three inoculations (including myself, my parents, and many of my friends), but is this enough to stay safe? I just want everyone to be okay. Now I think that I know why my head is everywhere tonight, and focusing on my book is not as easy as I thought it would be.
Thank you for writing this all down. I think this is the way we are all feeling right now.
I had a bit of an aha moment this week that makes all of this more complicated for me. The combination of the break and 2 weeks of virtual learning means that I haven’t interacted in person with human beings, other than my family, for 4 weeks. And my brain really needs to interact, in person, with other human beings. I fall into a pretty deep hole when I can’t check in with the people I work with. Co-regulating is incredibly important for me.
What makes that realization difficult right now is that I am the only classroom teacher among my intermediate colleagues who does not live in a multi-generational household. I am the only empty-nester. Am I still terrified of bringing the virus home? Yes. Am I going to have to stay home to care for someone else, or because my child brings it home to me? No. I am, in some ways, at far less risk than many other people in my profession. I am privileged.
And I don’t think we should be going back. Even though I know it would be way better for my emotional health in many ways. Even though I teach in a Grade 7- 12 school with far fewer unvaccinated kids than elementary teachers are facing. I think we should be considering at least another week on line. I don’t know what teaching all day, as our prep time disappears, will do to all of us. I know people will send sick kids to school because they have to go to work. I know that some of our students and colleagues are going to get really sick.
All the feels really kind of covers it, Aviva.
Thanks for your comment, Lisa! There is so much in here that I can relate to. Most of the people that I teach with have younger children at home (to varying degrees), and I know that I’m fortunate to not be in the situation to possibly have to care for youngsters at home. I’m really worried about bringing this home to my parents though, and am praying that three vaccine doses is enough to keep all of us safe.
I feel your conundrum about needing to be around other people and worrying about everyone’s safety in doing so. It’s so hard. As you know, I teach kindergarten, and the reality of the grade (and the age) means that most of our students will not be vaccinated (or at least not double vaccinated yet). It seems that younger children have, overall, less severe reactions to COVID, but this is not true for everyone (and they can bring it home to parents and grandparents that can have more severe reactions). I’m just incredibly worried about the what if’s, and hoping that none of us have to experience them.
Feelings are so complex, and the happiness of seeing children and colleagues, mixed with the fear around COVID itself makes this lead up to returning to the classroom, a hard one for so many it seems. Wishing you a safe return and a great week, my friend.