I’m Getting Used To This

All year, I had trouble getting used to this again. Every school day felt like a winter Monday — tired before the day even started and empty by the time you returned home. As the seasons changed, I used external sources to keep me propelling forward. Shooting hoops after school in the empty gym throughout late fall, when Covid restrictions were still heavy. Playing roulette with my students in class — with points, not money, of course — instead of handing out bland worksheets about the math behind probability after winter break. There was even the mock trial instead of the second persuasive essay assignment in early spring. Moments kept me engaged. Eager to see what would happen at school tomorrow. Without them things felt so unusual. So different. School didn’t feel like school. I was never ever used to that.

I don’t feel that way now. I’m getting used to this again. Despite the residue of winter finally thawing off, it doesn’t feel like the days are melting away. School is beginning to feel like it did before all of this. I’m no longer caught up in all of the little, tiny, bitsy things that made teaching during Covid something other than teaching. That made school something different than school. It feels like those bigger things I did throughout this year were necessary; without them I would have been all practice and protocols. I realize now that what I was doing in between those big bits wasn’t really teaching. But merely surviving. I was never ever used to doing just that.

We’ve established expectations this year just like how we established expectations in past years. We stand up for the national anthem, ask for permission before leaving the classroom, stay quiet while taking tests. I’m used to that. Again. And that’s where I think my problem truly is.

Inside me something sits awry with being used to this again. So soon. Like nothing really changed. As if the pandemic pressed pause on school then changed a few protocols but did very little to shake the policy. Nothing to shake the practice of teaching and learning. It’s a strange feeling to be so quickly used to the old, comfortable routines of something that you previously questioned and reflected upon and tried to rattle. I thought that after things went back to normal that they would never ever really go back to normal. But they have. And that’s scary. Sad too. How quick we became comfortable. How nonchalantly we all got used to this again.

(original version at www.matthewrmorris.com)

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