I made an impulsive decision this afternoon, sitting at my desk after an astonishingly smooth first day of school. We are doing a hybrid plan this year, and our students haven't been in our classrooms since March. Today the first groups came to school, and we got the whole process underway. They got lockers and heard about COVID policies, went up and down specially marked staircases (not up and down the same ones; some are for up and some for down - making me think of that classic book on teaching, Up the Down Staircase), sat six feet apart wearing masks. I've been fretting for weeks about how it would go, and it went fine. Tomorrow we'll do it all again with the second groups, while today's students work online.
The decision I made was to participate in Slice of Life, a Tuesday ritual that I've watched others doing for years. Here's today's roundup of other people's Slice of Life stories.
Today I sat at our school's outdoor cafeteria and ate lunch with a new colleague. We live in Haiti, and our weather only keeps us from eating outdoors once or twice a school year when it rains during the day. We have picnic tables, and for this year they have been specially painted with yellow circles to show where it's OK to sit - only three kids per table.
My new colleague asked how long I had taught at our school, and when I told him the year I moved to this country and started working here, he looked startled and told me that was the year after he was born. He's 28. Yes, I've been around here for a while. This year is definitely the weirdest and most intimidating, but I've faced challenges before. I think of my first year, when I learned that my students were used to a revolving door and plenty of starry-eyed young teachers from the US, and were not that eager to make my acquaintance. Year two was infinitely easier as far as acceptance from my students, but that year the US invaded Haiti, or "intervened" as they put it, and we had a tank in our parking lot for months. There was the year of the hunger riots, when protesters ransacked the convenience store across the street from our school, damaging it so badly that it's still sitting empty today. There was the year of the earthquake, when I left the country with my children and didn't return until six months later. There have been years of political turmoil, years of difficult classes that stretched me and made me want to quit some days, years of struggle in my personal life.
And all those years brought me to this year, with new challenges. Can I meet them and survive? Or even thrive? Let's find out!