6 Similes to describe how it felt to teach during COVID 19 Quarantine

Teaching during a quarantine was…

Like meaning with no  I, N or G. It was just mean. There were times when it felt forced, and meaningless because I was trying to make sense out of how to do this when it seemed more about keeping students busy and less about how they were feeling. 

Education during a pandemic was…

Like an infomercial. But wait, there’s more! More to do and definitely more to worry about.  Our students went AWOL – They’d gone absent without learning because they couldn’t connect. Their worlds had been turned upside down, and the one place where they could count on from Monday to Friday had been shuttered and now they were shut out. 

Learning for students during COVID 19 was…
Like making a pizza without a crust – there was nothing to hold all of the ingredients in place for students when life’s bigger problems consumed their ability to learn from home. Students needed their teachers to keep things together when things got tough and the class pizza, with all of its different toppings, got thrown into the oven.

Emergency distance learning was…
Like an ice cream cone with a hole in the bottom – the goodness melted away fast  and ended up on your shirt. Either way what was good couldn’t last long and usually there was something to clean up afterwards. I saw my students trying to make the best out of this mess yet there always seemed to be a scoop of some new flavour that no one wanted being added to the problem of learning outside of the classroom. 

Teaching from home during a shutdown felt…
Like performing a symphony where I had to write the score, conduct, play every instrument, and stack the chairs. There were so many little things that consumed the movements and moments of my day. It felt like I was simultaneously teaching a song to 25 individual performers all locked in their own rehearsal spaces.

Distance learning was…
Like running a marathon for the first time. You knew there was a finish line, but couldn’t remember how far you’d run or where you were going once you hit the wall. There came a point where fatigue set in and I began to doubt why I took this on in the first place? Some students hit the wall after the first day while others lasted until being told that the rest of their year at school was done. Even our strongest learners hit the wall at some point. Despite all of my training as a teacher, the toll that the marathon of teaching from home took on my mind and body was significant. I can only imagine how it affected our students.

I’m tired and a bit broken. The breath was stolen from my body when our students went home on March 13th. None of us imagined that we would be away for so long. I was allowed to visit my empty classroom 3 times since then and still hope that this has all been a bad dream. Walking down an empty hall in an empty school denied it’s life breath of students and their teachers was not how any of us would have wished this time in quarantine to be. 

From the onset and onslaught of learning in quarantine we had to work together, to grow together, and to continue learning together. It took time, patience, and grace. Each moment required a willingness to work meaningfully, to seek out those who had gone AWOL, bake a crust under that pizza, put a marshmallow in that cone to stop the good stuff from dripping out, play music until our fingers ached, and get up the next day ready to run the race again. 

The summer finish line has been crossed. We made it. Now where’s that pizza and ice cream?

 

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The Author

Will Gourley

J/I lead learner and SERT at Adrienne Clarkson PS in the YRDSB. Focused on disruptive, and divergent modern learning. Member of the global TED-Ed(Club) movement, 1 of 110 TED Ed Innovative Educators, and Global Math Project Ambassador. Twitter @willgourley Proudly blogging here and at https://escheweducationalist.wordpress.com/

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