I’m starting a substitute field notes series documenting pandemic teaching, and no, I haven’t forgotten about my commitment to writing about the book Guilt Trips: Mindful Travel in an Unequal World. But honestly, how could I not write now that I just spent the day getting fingerprinted before being allowed back in the classroom! It was amaaazinhg!
Where do I begin? There’s so much to unpack… for starters, I wasn’t even wearing a badge, they forgot to give me one and so I showed up with a district email but no badge. This would never never have happened if it weren’t for the pandemic, but people are just out of practice.
The kids were so cute. Only kids who felt safe to return to school were there at school. They coached me on the clean up routine, which was very impressive, and they had their own unique bathroom schedules once per period so that there wasn’t too much going on in the hall. They were being soo sooo good!
My favorite thing of the day, however, was a boy asking me if he could have a drink. He had his laptop out and so I thought that he was asking because he didn’t know if he could drink with the electronics out. I said, sure, you can step away and have a drink… but he was actually asking because then he’d have to move his little mask down to have the drink and their little faces are always supposed to be covered!!!! It was so cute!
When teaching during a pandemic with masks, it is important to have a fun mask! Mine was a colorful cat print. You also have to use your hands a lot. To show your enthusiasm. One student asked me if the plural to samurai was samurai or samurais and I said, I think it depends on what headspace you are in. For example, concerto’s plural is concerti, but plenty of people will write concertos. And so really, it just depends on how cultured the writer wants it to be. This is true, of course, but I also honestly didn’t know. So it was fun to have my teacher stance and to empower the student to look it up on her own.
It is a hard time for teachers right now. The teacher I was subbing for didn’t leave notes, and I sort of covered for her when colleagues came in and asked if I knew what I was supposed to do, because the last thing a teacher who is sick during a pandemic needs is to have colleagues gossiping about how she didn’t leave plans. How rude!
Oh I have missed the kids! They are just a joy. They are resilient and fill with joy when the teacher is joyful. Welcome back to the classroom! It’s hard, but it’s worth it.