Last week, the windows blew quiet cold air through the halls as a gentle reminder that holiday time was quickly arriving.
Students wore their masks diligently, and despite it all, their spirits for the most part were up. I walked around to check the last assignment they were to hand in before the holidays, keeping 2 meters with my Darth Vader clear plastic face shield on. I wished someone had also equipped me with a mini-window wiper to keep it from fogging up. Breathing wasn’t as easy either with both mask and shield on, but somehow the students with their masks and me with my PPE managed to communicate. Sometimes with a chuckle at how many times I needed things to be repeated because for some strange reason both mask and shield affected my hearing. I have to be honest, there have been conversations I had in the hallways with fellow teachers where I nodded through half of what they were saying as I could not hear them.
Teachers in the hallways pushed trolleys of laboratories, books, computers, travel suitcases with supplies, and bags of things needed to teach. I decided that several bags could do the task and I quickly began to say to myself every morning, “ Alright, carry, don’t forget your face shield, mask on, oh the computer cord- don’t forget this just in case the charge on it fades, the containers with journals- bring those too". It was almost like a morning mantra- one that was accompanied with my to do list and my don’t forget to bring to class list.
Holiday decorations adorned the halls and students began to bring some of the energy that was normally part of the year back into the classes. The hallways were quiet, almost subdued and I missed the students talking at their lockers. The good morning Miss as you passed by them talking was something I longed to hear. You’d catch them as they went into class telling you hello and sometimes as they one or two passed me in the hall, but I longed to hear them laughing outside my classroom door at the beginning of the day
But, in the changes that came with the pandemic, some things never changed, and the holiday season reminded me of this.
During the last online class, we finished for the day, and as usual I gave them my seasonal message of getting outside, and resting. I announced that class was over, and what happened was something that happens every year in teaching, almost like clockwork- a beautiful set of smiling faces greeting me- this time via online class, but still smiling and saying, “ Have a wonderful holiday Miss” and I think it was their smiles that reminded me that even though there have been a lot obstacles and changes so far in the year, it has still been a beautiful one in teaching.
I am looking forward to returning to class in January, albeit after a little rest and relaxing myself.
By Melinda Cochrane