“Ontario considering extended school closures as winter break approaches”

Gulp. 

My heart sank down to my stomach as I read headlines such as this one flood the news and every single social media platform that I am a member of. 

I am, by nature, a worrier in general. So this year and all that has come with it has brought immense amounts of stress into my personal and professional life. When schools were locked down in March, I was so positive there would be a quick fix to the problem. Like many people, I figured a two week shut down would obviously solve the issue and we would be back with our students in no time. I often reflect back on how misguided I was in those moments. I wish I would have clung to “normal” life just a little bit harder and appreciated it just a little bit more. 

As an Occasional Teacher, my unique situation of travelling from school to school and class to class leaves me extremely vulnerable in the times of COVID-19. I wear my PPE, I wash my hands, I socially distance, but the fear of contracting and/or spreading the virus hovers over my head each day like a dark cloud. Some days it feels like I am trapped in a small room, where the walls are inching closer and closer to me. Therefore the thought of a closure feels safe to me, it feels comfortable, it feels familiar.

On the contrary, it feels like another closure is equivalent to taking ten massive steps back. Educators have made enormous  progress and countless sacrifices in order to welcome students back into school, and are simultaneously supporting students academic, social and emotional development amidst the current restrictions. Being with students is what sets educators souls on fire. It is the students that inspire me every day to keep going, keep persisting, and keep learning. 

So much unknown. So much fear. What will happen to me? Will I continue to have consistent work? Will students be okay, academically? Socially? Emotionally?…

“Minister Lecce says extended winter break will not be necessary”

New news begins to flood my social media. No extended time away from school, for now anyways. As we move forward, through the cold and flu season while battling a second wave, the fragility of the system we have worked so hard to build back up seems more apparent now than ever. It feels like at any moment, things could come to an unknowing halt. Day by day, month by month we remain unsure, on edge, confused and exhausted in anticipation of what the future will hold. 

My grandmother was an elementary school teacher for many years. She now has dementia and does not entirely understand what is happening in the world or comprehend the devastating impacts of the pandemic. Her and I often chat about teaching, as her short term memory is fading but memories of her work as an educator come easily to her mind. I explained to her my panic, my stress and my feelings of hope and despair all at once. She turned to me and said something I will never forget.

“Teachers will never know what their days at school will look like. We could plan forever and the outcome will still be different than expected. But, teachers are good at change, that’s what we do”. 

 

No matter what comes our way,

We’ve.  Got.  This.

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The Author

Melissa Turnbull

Enjoying the journey as an Elementary Occasional Teacher for the Lambton Kent District School Board and the Thames Valley District School Board. I am a recent graduate of a Master of Professional Education program with a focus on teaching students with exceptionalities. I am a lover of learning and have a passion for incorporating play in the classroom. Currently, I am navigating the road to becoming a permanent teacher with a sense of humour and a huge smile on my face.

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