Covid-19 Teeth Cleaning

Today’s Slice of Life at

Today was my regular teeth cleaning, though it wasn’t really regular. I was three months late due to the dental department closure for some months in the springtime. Even now that they are open, it wasn’t regular. It was a Covid-19 teeth cleaning.

When I came into the room, I felt conspicuous, especially when they asked me to remove my mask. Of course, I would need to remove my mask. What was I thinking? The periodontist and the assistant were each decked out with double masks and a boldly-marked FACE SHIELD.

They both meticulously used hand sanitizer and then put on a pair of rubber gloves. They busily set up the work station, getting all their tools lined up. The assistant poured me a cocktail of betadine and water to rinse my mouth.

After getting everything set up, they removed and disposed of those gloves and then put on a new pair. At this point, I was clearly feeling like I myself was the virus from which they needed protection.

As I sat there, occasionally opening my eyes, I saw a trio of images. In the center was the dental light focused on my mouth, on either side the periodontist and the assistant. I couldn’t help but notice their attentive and vulnerable eyes under their shields. I wondered how many of my droplets were able to reach those defenseless, exposed orifices. I felt guilty and prayed I didn’t have Covid-19.

Fortunately, teeth cleaning is a fast and furious process here. It is not for the faint of heart, indulged or coddled. He is on a mission to get through all four sections of teeth before giving the person in the chair a break. Three tools were put into my mouth, a water jet, a suction and some kind of an ultrasonic teeth cleaner. I began breathing deeply and slowly. He began traveling on the lingual mandibular route. Then surprisingly, two of the tools escaped. I closed my mouth over the suction, happy for the unexpected break. Then he continued on the labial mandibular teeth, jumped up to the maxillary, turned and scaled every surface along that route. He then did another u-turn around my wisdom tooth and continued on the front of the upper jaw. No more breaks to be had until the end.

In the next moments, he gobbed that gritty polish onto all the surfaces and scrubbed it off like lightning.

I looked down at my watch. The whole process had taken 13 minutes.

Today is Day 168 in Bahrain’s Covid-19  time.

Insights from Remote Learning

This post is week 3 of 8 in the #8WeeksofSummer Blog Challenge for educators.

What insights do I have about my students after remote learning? 

That is a question I have considered over the past few months. When thinking about the children I know. I have known them in the classroom in both kindergarten and grade 5, as I had the pleasure of teaching this same batch twice. I know them in person and now I know them in a different way too–how they were when learning at home.

I often thought about their teacher for next year, should we have to continue remote learning in the fall. He won’t know them like I know them.

He won’t know that the students whose work may seem comparatively mediocre are working on their own, empowered by their parents to be independent and responsible learners in their own right.

He actually won’t know the level of the students’ English language acquisition because their lessons have become a family affair, which I’m not saying is a bad thing. I’m just hoping that the students who are getting help at home are learning skills with their one-on-one familial tutors, lessons they may have missed over the years.

He won’t know which ones are getting bombarded with more than help from older siblings and parents, like excessive scaffolding on a building project on a sandy site. When the scaffolding gets taken away, there will be trouble if the builders haven’t drilled down to establish a strong foundation. He won’t really be able to recognize those students with shaky foundations who are getting disproportionate help on their online work.

For me, my insights are scattered. I have learned new things about my students since they started learning at home. Other insights on the more important human levels, I’ve sadly lost touch.

I have seen a whole spectrum of abilities and successes coming through in all these areas of remote learning:

  • Timeliness of turning in assignments
  • Engagement in opportunities afforded
  • Excellence in work produced
  • Understanding instructions
  • Creativity
  • Going above and beyond
  • Willingness to ignore lessons entirely

One of my big takeaways is that success in remote learning was not predictable at all based on their effort and the work they were doing in the classroom. Of course, some students were not a surprise. They were very similar to the students I had in person in the grade 5 classroom. However, there were many children who ended up on opposite ends of the spectrum of abilities and successes. These students learned and engaged on very different levels than they did in person–some rose to the occasion, others foundered.

I have learned insights about myself too. For instance, in how difficult one-way communication is. I would think I explained something one way on my video instructions until I saw  the assignments they turned in and say a big “Oops!” I missed being in the classroom, able to say, “Wait a minute! Let me explain this a different way before you continue.” I’ll save more on insights into myself for another post.

Perhaps the greatest insight I’ve learned is that children are complicated and full of different ways of being. We perhaps don’t know them as well as we think we do when we are with them for just a few hours a day. They are each valuable and multifaceted gems reflecting some light in school, but we don’t get to know them fully and see all their sides.

However, one thing I do know, it is certainly better to meet my students every day and get to see, know and experience their glinting brilliance in real life than remotely.


New Second Edition

This happened recently. The release date came and passed without anyone on the production staff or us knowing or paying attention. (Our insidious and disruptive enemy gets the blame.)

Second Edition of Genius Hour Guidebook
Click on the book image to buy at a discount at Routledge.

Read Chapter 1 in the Kindle preview.

This sweet graphic was made by Valentina Gonzalez (@ValentinaESL)

Day 28 Slice of Life – Skyline

It was just a week ago that we took our last walk outside. There is a large park area near the bay. I took this 180skyline photo last Friday. Today I was missing this lovely walking spot.

Now, we stay at home, with a curfew from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. During the day, we are supposed to stay inside unless there is an urgent reason to go out.

Both of our daughters and their husbands are in similar situations–with shelter in place orders in their states.

I hope the majority of people can and will stay home and stay safe so the hospitals won’t have to become overwhelmed.

God be with all those who have to work, especially those in the medical field, grocers and delivery people.