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Introducing the 49th Teachers COVID–19 Crisis Teacher Diary

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Welcome to the 49th Teachers COVID–19 Teacher Diary, a new blog series that takes a look at how teachers are coping with the pandemic. What does daily life look like for teachers right now? What’s working in the new world of online classrooms, and what’s not? What can parents do at home with their kids? How can educators, parents, and students all cope with overwhelm, communicate more effectively, and support one another?

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Thank you for reading. If you’re an Ontario educator and would like to contribute to this series, please send us an email.

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Written on March 28, 2020, by Peel District School Board Teacher-Librarian Allison Hall

It’s day fourteen of my family’s self isolation and I’m struggling to maintain a schedule and a little bit of normalcy. I have a never ending list of ‘I shoulds’—I should clean the house, I should paint the cupboards, I should update my library website with home activities for students—but I can’t find the motivation needed to complete any of these tasks.

I spent the week of March Break in a state of shock and panic. There were knots in my stomach and chest that wouldn’t loosen. I convinced myself that I was physically unwell. I woke up each morning dreading that I would have a sore throat or cough. I read books, I watched TV, I napped and I looked at the news far too often. I knew that I needed to be careful to not spread my panic to my kids but it was hard. I have mild anxiety at the best of times but I can usually rationalize it. This time I couldn’t because the threat was real.

That week we let the kids do whatever they wanted. They played Minecraft and Roblox and way too many video games. We went on a couple of family walks where I tried to keep my panic in check and was only sometimes successful. I hoped I wasn’t becoming agoraphobic.

My husband got up every morning to go to work in the basement and eventually my kids started asking about school. We put together what I thought was a flexible, open ended schedule to start the next week. I was optimistic and the kids were excited.

Monday:

Schedule

I planned to wake up at 9am so I could do yoga before our start time of 10. I ended up turning off the alarm and waking up at 9:55. I got dressed and raced downstairs. My daughter was already waiting on the couch. She gave my son and I both late slips. We started with some reading and then jumped into inquiry. I thought we could do some research on a topic of their choice.  My kids decided to learn how to draw Pokemon characters. We had lunch and outside exercise time followed by a lesson on design thinking. During maker time we baked chocolate chip cookies together. We concluded the day with journal writing. At the end of class I rang the (YouTube) bell and my kids put on their coats, ran around the house a couple of times and pretended to arrive home from school. Note to self: I’m the best teacher ever.

Tuesday:

I slept through yoga and coffee again. I arrived at school in my pajamas. My daughter was dressed and waiting but my son slept in because he’d had a nightmare and hadn’t been able to get much sleep. We snuck in 20 minutes of reading and decided to learn how to make origami animals. We failed spectacularly at making folded parrots. After lunch, we watched a documentary about plastics in the ocean and my kids thought of some ideas to solve the problem. My son asked if he could quit homeschool (twice). We ended again with journal writing. The bell rang and they were off again outside to walk two laps of the house. Note to self: I need a nap.

Wednesday:

On Tuesday night my kids voted unanimously to cancel school on Wednesdays. I was secretly thrilled because I’d just had a shipment of books delivered. Note to self: Going forward I declare all Wednesdays to be holidays.

Thursday:

My son and I were up and dressed for once, ready for the 10am start time. My daughter slept in until 11. We successfully made origami dogs. I sent the kids outside early because it looked as though it was about to rain. Lunch was late because I forgot to put the Pizza Pops in the oven. The kids missed design thinking/maker time because they got distracted watching Peppa Pig. They watch it all the time now. They seem to have reverted back to their toddler years, maybe it’s a comfort thing. We did manage to squeeze in journal writing before we called it a day. Note to self: Is it too early to announce a PD day?

Friday:

On Friday we all slept in. School consisted of making pancakes and origami frogs. There were meltdowns all round when the frogs wouldn’t jump. Fortunately the sun came out so we all went outside. The kids played in the forest for most of the day. I decided that this was a much more valuable use of their time. We remembered journal writing sometime in the afternoon and decided to leave it for another day. Note to self: I have no idea what to do with my kids next week.

Our schedule didn’t work this week but that’s okay. We still moved forward. I went on a couple of runs, I sat on the porch to drink my coffee and waved at people walking by. The knots began to loosen. My kids started to Facetime their school mates while they played Minecraft. My daughter participated in a virtual birthday party for her friend. Baby steps into the new normal.

It’s a stressful time for everyone. As educators we have no idea what teaching and learning will look like in the next couple of months. Due to stress and fear of the unknown we may not be ready to teach and our students may not be ready to learn. But there are many positives as well. We have supportive teaching networks and are willing to help each other. We are fortunate enough to be able to work from the safety of our homes. We have many wonderful resources available to us. Our fabulous Canadian authors are providing read-alouds for our students to watch. Education companies are allowing students and teachers to use their web resources free of charge.

We are innovators and we are resilient. This is new territory for everyone. We need to be available to listen to our students, to comfort them, to make them feel safe and to let them know that we will navigate this situation together. We will get through this and come out the other side stronger and more connected than ever.

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Allison

Allison Hall is a Teacher-Librarian at a K–8 public school in Brampton, Ontario. She is passionate about creativity and empowering students. She is also a bit of a Lego addict.

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April 2, 2020
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