I have craved stillness all week. A classroom is not the best setting when temperatures are rising, and the movement required of teaching Year Ones, even in a bubble, is not the most comfortable thing in the world when outdoor temperatures are high.
But the real stillness I’ve wanted has been mental rather than physical: lockdown teaching has been kind to me in that respect, granting more mental stillness than a classroom could manage even on a calm day.
In a way, returning from this mammoth break has been like starting again from September. Monday felt a bit like treading water, trying to stay afloat in this strange new world. My thoughts were an utter mess – it was NQT mental plate-spinning to an olympic standard that I wasn’t sure I could meet. I took stock however, as I often do, from EduTwitter colleagues. I certainly had an easier job than many of them: having the advantage of taching children from my own class meant that I had a good idea of their abilities pre-lockdown.
There has certainly been little time for mental stillness this week. It’s been an exercise of unlearning old habits and academically feeling my way through semi-darkness to work out which skills and knowledge have flourished or diminished since March. I’m stretching mental muscles that have lain dormant and pushing the limit of what little stamina I might have built up between September and March. You can bet I will sleep well this weekend! It’s been a hard week, and I’m not sure that next week will be much different, with the addition of more of my children to my bubble!
Returning to the classroom, albeit with ten children, has been a truly lovely experience though. The childre have shown incredible resilience in the face of all the new routines, taking it all in stride and even reminding me, when I didn’t immediately reach for the soap on coming back from playtime!
It’s been an immense pleasure too, to see how much they havve changed in the time that they have been away. Many have caught up to the one who was the tallest by a whole head or more. There are gaps in smiles where there weren’t before. Independence for some has skyrocketed.
I had been jittery about returning to a strict world of bubbles. But what I hadn’t factored into my visualisation of that first morning, was the precious moment of internal lift when one of my children rounded the corner in the corridor and set eyes on me for the first time since mid-March. I hope never to forget her relieved, thrilled and excited smile as she walked the rest of the corridor to meet me and enter our bubble’s room. Yesterday afternoon, having spent her morning playtime agonising over not being able to give me a hug, she happily declared, “I’m hugging you in my head.”
That brought me more mental stillness than any amount of mindfulness colouring, blogging or octopus crochet.