I can hear the click of my shoes in the corridor. It’s the sound that used to make me smile, only hearing it during free periods and early in the morning when preparing to see my kids, which now creates a feeling in my throat close to choking. My school is empty, my kids are not here, and I have never felt this alone. This was the first day of cancelled classes from COVID-19.
My kids, the phrase that causes new acquaintances to exclaim “Oh! I didn’t know you are a mother!” To which I have to explain that I, of course, mean my students. A comparison non-teachers don’t understand: that these fifty-plus teenagers are my kids. I’ve watched them grow, learn, and smile every day. Now, this classroom and these corridors, in which we made our memories, are empty. They seem to echo, I miss my kids.
Now I sit in our classroom, and spend all day looking for ways to be enough for them. Together with my colleagues, we start making a plan for what education is going to look like going forward. Other teachers have always been my support system, and we work together to provide our students with the best. We are now looking at how our teaching needs to change and how we can support them from a distance.
The 'New Normal'
Sending food to families, helping to set up counselling, creating community connections, compiling and creating at-home resources, and having multiple video conferences are all ways in which we are trying to support our students and their families. The support systems that we have put in place to protect our students are now having to change and be reimagined in ways that can support our students when they are outside of our school. I spend my days constantly asking myself: what can I do to help them, how do I make sure they are supported in what they are learning? The questions echo in the back of my mind all day: am I doing enough and, am I enough?
This unprecedented time is never what we imagined when we signed up to educate. We have always known that education both shapes and reflects society, and therefore needs to be dynamic. We were taught in our training to be flexible, open to change, and inventive; I don’t think our professors and mentors ever imagined this. Teachers all over the world are working quickly to adapt to new circumstances and support the learning of our students.
I believe that our children and young people are going to come out of this unique learning experience stronger. They are going to be independent, resilient, and compassionate. The next generation is seeing people coming together to help each other, teachers working hard to keep everyone connected, front line workers putting their patients above themselves, and governments protecting their citizens. They are the generation who will grow up appreciating the importance of education, family, and community.
Through all of this I am left thinking: will this showing of the best of society become our new normal?
by Kayla M.