I’ve gotten a lot of questions about what teaching during a pandemic is like…especially from people who think teachers are either A: Amazing or B: Lazy. There’s generally no in between. Questions range from “What happens if a kid sneezes?” to “Where do you eat?” to “What do you do if a kid forgets/doesn’t wear/won’t wear their mask?” So, I thought I’d take a post, and walk you through my day.
A few notes. I teach middle school, which is different than Elementary. I’m also in a state that has banned mask mandates, so I can’t require kids wear a mask (though I can ask them).
Alright, let’s begin.
7:30: I arrive at school, coffee in hand. Inevitably someone is already there using the copier.
7:45: I need to print a change to the seating chart. The copier is already jammed.
8:00: Kids arrive for breakfast. They eat in the rooms and read. Those who wear masks replace masks after eating with no prompt from me (these kids are rockstars).
8:30-11:00: First three classes If you’re talking to your conservative friends, they probably think I’m teaching leftist propaganda. I’m not. I just teach history.
Some things that may happen in the class:
- Kid sneezes, he pulls his mask off his face to sneeze. He then steps out of the room to blow his nose for ten minutes. I ask him to wash his hands. He says “Oh good idea!”
- Kids wear masks…but on their chin. I say “I can’t make you wear a mask, but please wear it over your nose, or not at all. The chin strap is a distraction. The students put it over their nose.
- Kid A wants to sit next to Kid B, they try to switch seats like I’m a sucker. I catch it. I explain contact tracing is still a thing, and I need to know where they are. They move back no problem.
- A kid takes off his mask to wipe their nose. They then try to hand me the paper they just touched with their hand that wiped their nose. I ask them to hang on to it.
Lunch. It’s in the cafeteria. Kids eat, clean up, and go outside. Many of them replace their masks after eating, and even keep them on outside. They really are pretty amazing humans.
11:40-2:45: Next three classes. After lunch is a whole different ballgame. Some things that happen after lunch:
- Miss can I go to the bathroom? x 150 students.
- Masks are sweaty, so need to get replaced if the student asks.
- Students are wearing chin straps again. Again, I ask them to wear the mask right, or not at all. They have chosen to wear it correctly 100% of the time.
- “Wait, why do we have the same seating chart in every classroom?” “Well, because there’s a pandemic, and we need to contact trace.” “Oh yeah!” from the kid wearing a mask 100% correctly 100% of the time.
- I catch a few notes getting passed around
- I catch a few talkers
- I catch a few drawers
Prep: The copier is probably jammed again.
A lot has been said about masks and socializing. I am here to tell you, masks are not a problem when it comes to middle schoolers making and keeping friends. These students will talk to you all the time. They will talk to their friends all the time. They get crushes, date, and break up. ALL. THE. TIME. Masks are not hindering their socializing in anyway.
Why is this important?
Recently, school…and what happens in schools… has been super politicized, but the real story is much more boring. Kids know what they need to do to keep their community safe. They don’t argue, they don’t fight back. Sure, sometimes they’re defiant, but not about masks. They roll their eyes when I ask them to spit out their gum (that I still catch even with a mask on).
Bottom line? Teaching during a pandemic is difficult. I’m, currently, very nervous for the health of my students, and I think that our elected officials have blood on their hands for banning mask mandates. But…it’s not the students. They are amazing.
Teachers do not wake up looking to indoctrinate your children. We wake up hoping that we can stay healthy, and praying that we can keep your kids healthy.
We also wake up with the absolute knowledge that today, the copier will jam when you need it most.