Being Mrs. Kubra, Me, Me, Me

CORONAVIRUS: an educator’s concerns

It’s Easter hols which means a break from school. By that, I mean a break from online teaching as well as the school building itself (unlike other institutions, my colleagues and I have been working on-site.)

Normally, at this point of the academic year, I’m soooooo ready to see the backs of my students as they go study leave.

Normally, by this time, I’m also sick with a bug because I’ve worked myself silly. This is usually the home run where you exert your last efforts, then sit back and pray your kids remember it all in the exam so your combined hard work pays off.

Normally, I’m excited about the Year 11 gain-time that comes afterwards, and so the countdown to summer begins…

But not this year.

A lot of things have been on my mind this past week. I can’t seem to string a simple sentence together so apologies if my thoughts below seem jumbled and pessimistic – hoping the cat gifs will lighten the mood, though.

I’m deeply saddened that the nicest Year 11 cohort I have ever known, the ones we had such high hopes for, are going through such a shitty time with their cancelled exams and the uncertainty surrounding what’s going to happen next. I’m gutted they won’t have a leaver’s assembly or prom or graduation because if anyone deserved a big send-off, it was this cohort. Before breaking up for the summer hols, it’s become a tradition to order pizza, have PS4 marathons, and engage in all kinds of silliness. But we won’t be able to do any of that now.

In fact, the last day of school for the kids was so unexpected, I didn’t get to say goodbye and so many of my leavers will probably return to their home counties when the new academic year begins.

sad cat

I am worried. Worried that me, my global colleagues, and educational institutions have been so preoccupied with continuing teaching that we have neglected other aspects of our students’ well being…

The role of a teacher is so undervalued. Millions of kids worldwide rely on their teachers for not just an education, but pastoral care too.

Imagine being a teen or younger, and having your whole world turned upside down.

Imagine suddenly having to pick up additional burdens like cooking, cleaning, tutoring younger siblings with their online learning, babysitting…because your parents are still obligated to work.

Imagine if you depended on school meals to sustain you.

Imagine living in a toxic household.

Imagine not being able to see your friends or teachers, not being able to do your normal, every-day activities.

Then imagine worrying. Just like the adults around you, you’re also bombarded with news and stories and you grapple with the fear of losing your loved ones to the virus…

It’s not easy for the youth of today. And these young minds will make up our future workforce.

The more I plan my online lessons, the more I try to factor in the mental and emotional well-being of my students.

Last week, I talked to them. That’s all. Not about work, not about exams or grades, but the random kind of chit-chat we’d normally have in the corridors or during break. We shared: memories of our time in school; funny stories about annoying siblings; our new routines; and joked about getting food poisoning when some of them said they’d taken up cooking and wanted to bring something in for us when school resumed…

watermelon

Even though I am a teacher, if there’s one piece of advice I’d like to share with parents, it is this:

Right now, the focus should not be education or exams. It should not be about your child completing however-many-hours-a-day of work. Rather, it’s important to talk to your children, to listen, spend quality family time together etc, now more than ever before. It’s about enforcing healthy routines, ensuring physical activity takes place and partaking in communication about your children’s fears or feelings or even their boredom…

We should all bear in mind that whenever things return to normal, whatever the new normal might be, this period is going to have a long-lasting impact on us all. What would you like your children to take away from this?

***

If you are interested in reading more about this topic, The Lancet published a study ‘The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it’ which is a worthwhile read.

16 thoughts on “CORONAVIRUS: an educator’s concerns”

  1. We are going easier on them regarding academics, but in all honesty, being in lockdown, still having work (which is even more intense for both parents), plus the burden of cooking, cleaning, etc is just an insane load. I wish there was the space to connect with them consistently on that level, but it’s just not happening. There isn’t the space – in time and physical space – to have a healthy routine. And then our government doesn’t even want us walking outside our premises for exercise (even alone), yet their policies elsewhere just make a mockery of social distancing.

    So yes…the psychological effects are crucial for kids. But it’s just as bad for us as parents, and there’s really no way out unless we just ditch everything and decide to live carefree…which can’t happen.

    The best we can hope for is pockets of space….but overall, it’s just a large scale unhealthy situation for us all…

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    1. It’s definitely insane when governments ask you to maintain social distance but if you work in certain sectors of society you’re expected to carry on going into work *facepalm*. I wanted to emphasise the impact on children specifically because I’ve spoken to so many of my students and realised where normally they would offload anxieties to teachers, now they can’t. In particular, I’d like to respond to the line you wrote ‘it’s just as bad for us parents,’ it is – I’m not saying parents have it easier – but the point is, as adults we have more coping mechanisms at our fingertips, we have past experiences we’ve learnt from, we can differentiate between fake news/sensationalism and reality, over time (hopefully) we’ve become more rational when we face adversity….children don’t have this ability. Their immune systems might be more resilient but their minds are still developing. The answer also isn’t in living carefree – this situation isn’t going to go away by doing that – and teaching kids to throw their hands up and live carefree isn’t the answer either. Rather, my point was to utilise this crisis to equip children with coping mechanisms and strategies that can help them in any future similar scenarios.

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    1. Same. I know how torturous the summer 6 week vacation is for some of them; this is worse seeing as we have no idea how long it will go on for. What can be done? It’s heart breaking 😦

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  2. First of all, I must say, you have been working onsite until this break? Why? I appreciate this post. I don’t have kids and don’t interact with them daily. Heck, it’s been so long since I’ve actually been a kid, it’s difficult to attempt to understand their mental state. I wish more parents would take the time to see this as an opportunity to stop all the busyness. But unfortunately, for those who still have work, many employers aren’t really mindful of the fact that many of their employees have kids now at home, unable to go anywhere. I think the problem is more structural, at least here in the “developed” world, where it’s all about work and then drinking to forget about work. I feel like I’m starting to sound like some old uncle now who likes to remind people that “In Islam….” so I’ll stop, but I hope you get my drift.

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    1. I can’t answer your first question (without getting into trouble haha) but anyway, recently the government announced only 20% of workers are allowed on-site. So from now on I’ll be working entirely from home- soon as Easter hols are over. Alhamdullilah, no-one got sick during that time which is the main thing. I agree the problem is definitely structural. Those from privileged backgrounds can, to an extent and with more ease, devote time to families without worrying about work or finances. I guess the virus is highlighting flaws in our capitalist system. Have you read Arundhati Roy’s piece in the financial times/on Longreads on wordpress? I think it’s very accurate in describing just how broken the system is. I hope you and your family are well 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Alhamdullilah. The most important thing is that no one got sick. I have not read that piece, but I will look forward to reading it. I like Roy and her thoughts, but man “God of Small Things” was just too much for me. Sorry, kinda off topic. Alhamdulillah, we are as well as can be. Avoiding the news, because it is honestly not helpful. How is your family doing? How are you?

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      2. I haven’t read any of her fictional works, just her essays. So good to hear you are well – all is well on my end too alhamdullilah :). Switching off from the news is definitely a wise move hehe.

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      3. It’s deeply depressing, verging on disgusting, and I normally read really serious things. But it was just too much for me. But yeah, her essays are good. Actually, I don’t think I’ve read too many, but I’ve seen some of her interviews. Yes, alhamdulillah. I’m really trying to make the best of my time and doing beneficial things. Also, since Ramadan is around the corner, I figured why not plug out sooner rather than later?

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  3. You precisely mentioned everything on my mind. I cannot wait until all this is over, and going back to mediocre-bland life 😦 Oh, btw, boredom forced me to read the ending of OMAM…it was expectedly-shocking(I’m in the mood of reading it again). I missssss u so much ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right, I never thought I’d miss mediocre life either haha. I’m sure the ending would have been MORE shocking if a certain someone hadn’t ruined it for everyone..grrr!! Miss you too and hope you and your family are well.xx

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