Muddling through somehow

Simon Foster: It’ll be easy peasy lemon squeezy.
Toby: No it won’t! It’ll be difficult difficult lemon difficult!

In the Loop

Teaching is not fun at the moment, it is difficult, difficult lemon difficult. Schools are strange places at the best of times, but their beauty and their fault lines are exaggerated by the the current COVID-19 pandemic.

In normal times, we have to hold on to the uncertainties and anxieties in the education system. The conflicts and turf wars between control and independence, individual and group, achievement and inclusion, adults and child, progressive and traditional are all still here, twinkling away in the moonlight. But COVID has tipped the scales and thrown them down the stairs. It is the trump of all trumpcards. Surviving each day feels like walking through sludge and not the light sludge but the treacly thick milkshake stuff that sticks to your very soul.

It is so difficult to plan the next steps or prepare for the quicksand ahead. The cognitive overload is overwhelming and difficult to hold it all in mind.

The students are pretty good on the whole but it is difficult being the adult in the room when I know so little about what happens next and what will happen to their exams? This teaching in the dark is like setting of for a marathon of an unknown distance. What should my pace be? How much water should I take on? Can I stop for a wee a la Paula Radcliffe.

The task of teaching as become almost impossible as you need to prepare COVID safe activities that do not require movement around the room, you cannot circulate to manage those who are off-task. As well as the nightmare of managing the learning of those who are simultaneously in and out of the room. Then there is the challenge of checking on their progress in a way that doesn’t create a new circle of marking hell that would make even Dante weep.

To make matters worse, Microsoft Teams and I are officially not friends, we were never really dating but any hope we had for each other had been lost with that ridiculously non-intuitive interface. I fear we never rekindle the dreams we had for each other, I am eyeing up different platforms.

However, I know that many have it much worse than me but as a professional worrier, I feel I am trying to share the anxiety load with everyone.

I am trying to focus on the simple pleasures of the job, the wonderful students, those breakthrough moments in class and the thought of a return to normal.

I guess we are all coping and not coping in different degrees. I have minutes when I forget about it all, I am absorbed in the moment but then the bell rings and I have to find my mask to go into the corridor. The memory returns like an electric jolt as the anxieties and my defenses begin to bubble away. In my rational mind, it is only 9 days till Xmas break and then the vaccine is around the corner. Viva La Vaccine.

As the Judy Garland classic Christmas carol tells us “until then, we’ll have to muddle through somehow”.