I have gone back and forth about writing this post – mostly because there has been so much negativity in the press, and I myself have been feeling very negative. However, I want to be positive about going 'back' to school. In fact, I was in school today, even though it is half term, for the key worker children. I took a picture before I left with the intention of using it for this post but when I got back, I took another one. Leaving, I was nervous and worried; coming back, I was relaxed and happy. I could see this in the photos I took and even though this wasn't my original intention, I'm glad I did it. Honestly, school is a happy place and I just hope we can make it that way - even with all the new guidelines and rules - for the children, when they come back on June 1st.
I want to first give some credit to school staff who have been in throughout this time (including on their holidays, away from their own families) to look after the key worker children. I'm a teacher, but came back from maternity in the middle of all this so I didn't have a class. I was able to do some preparation work for next year (that took twice as long after being out of practice), complete online training and do some research. Other teachers have had to set work, mark it, contact their students and parents, and be in school, and complete online learning tasks, reports and paperwork. Just absolute kudos to you guys. You've done all that and dealt with media throwing around hurtful comments. I think you rock!
Anyway, today was spent with a group of awesome children during what is meant to be their holidays. It was a glorious, sunny day, so we spent a large portion of it colouring in the sun. They were also happy to help water all the school plants and newly planted trees. Sometimes, I am just so amazed at how well these children have coped and are coping. I worry about them next week, when there is more structure in place to support more children coming back. It won’t be as ‘casual’ as it is now but these children will adjust again as they did before: they are the heroes here.
Most people want to know how I'm doing, so, how am I feeling coming into a half filled school of children? I’d lie if I didn’t say I was worried, of course I am. The government doesn’t seem to think we need any PPE and doesn’t expect our youngest children to be able to socially distance (and anyone who thinks 4, 5 and even 6 year olds can . . . well, they can't, so deal with it). Head teachers have worked extremely hard, along with their staff, to put as many measures in place as possible. Despite what certain news headlines would have you believe, we care about these children; we are just as scared for them as we are for ourselves. School is about as safe as we can make it right now, at least until the government want more children back – I can’t answer anything about then because there just simply isn’t the capacity, the space, to continue with the small ‘bubbles’ of children. Hopefully though, by then, we'll all be feeling a little less anxious anyway.
For me personally, I am feeling such a bag of emotions. My maternity leave ended during this so I am excited about being back, being in a routine. I love my job. I really do. Whilst this won’t be teaching the way I know, I’ll still be with the kids I love (but don’t ask me how many times these children will be asked to wash their hands and use hand sanitiser each day!). No matter how panicked and anxious I feel at home, leaving my baby, once I am here with these children I do feel happy and excited - except my very first day back because I actually did cry! Leaving my little one was way harder than I anticipated! My focus switches from being worried about me and my son, to worrying if I’m enough for these kids. Worrying if they’re ok. Worrying if they’re happy.
So let me end this post by saying that next week is bringing about a lot of anxiety, a lot of worry, a lot of change. But I am equally excited to get back to doing something I love. I will be trying so hard to remember this whenever I feel a negative spell hovering - but this is always easier said than done! Good riddance negative thoughts! Please, if you will, thank you, good day . . .