March 31st – The Beginning of the end
The beginning of a time in my life I will never, ever forget. We were told via email Thursday before March Break that we would not be coming back to school after the break. I spent Friday night with my partner, went for brunch with him Saturday, and didn’t yet realise that was the last time we would do such a normal weekend activity.
We are seven weeks into isolation now in Canada and life has a rhythm, weird and new as it may be. I don’t see my students’ faces every morning – I see them for 15 minutes once a week, and some do not attend. My heart also goes out to parents balancing work and home-school. We end up realising how much we took for granted before this, how different it was.
People are walking and running more than ever, but most don’t smile. It feels wrong to make an act of distancing from people, but we are doing it to be safe. It is a trying time for all.
In the midst of this, educators in Canada needed to learn to shift to e-learning. I had an online classroom, and peddled forward. Two weeks into at-home learning, I was informed that I was surplussed at my school, my work/home with students I loved and colleagues I considered a family. Not only was I navigating a new line of work, the inability to see my partner or my friends and family, but now, I had no job. I also knew my lease was up in June and I had to find new accommodation during this season of change. How to be there for my students? How to remain calm and focused? I reminded myself that many people were dealing with personal dilemmas of their own.
And yet, Canadians still seem to be Canadians. Neighbours were outside in 14 degrees having social distancing beers with friends. Kids are at home learning skills, like how to cook, to do laundry, to play an instrument. Families have more time together. Dogs and cats are confused, but overjoyed. Locals are banding together to sew and make masks to help frontline workers. People are making concerted efforts to buy local, order local food, donate to the food banks, and thank cashiers – those who normally get no gratitude at all.
Regardless of what country we are in, I believe we can all agree – the world will never be the same again. In my current position, I am sad to say I may not be able to say goodbye to my amazing colleagues and students before moving schools, but I know now, we will never take our small joys for granted. Our friends, going to dinner, laughing as we swing our kids at the park. These small, every day joys lined up, will be our everlasting happiness. Though we have all made sacrifices, in our own, personal ways, the small, silver lining is that we now know how much we have to be thankful for.
By Kristy Chown – Ottawa Canada
Editor’s Note: Kristy is a young teacher in Canada whose experiences mirror those of us in Australia. Since writing this article Kristy has secured an exciting new job and will soon be able to get out and about again. So life is taking on a whole new rosy glow.