School started this week. There is a lot of stress. Challenges from the Ministry of Education. Lack of official information about what the beginning of the school year will look like. Daily policy changes and postponements on training to learn what we are supposed to do with blended learning. We seem to all be new teachers this year. Another big chunk of my stress is that it was my last first day of school here is Bahrain. I actually have not signed my contract for this year. I’m just filling in while Covid-19 gets under control enough for the new teacher to arrive. We are partner teaching, her in Michigan and me here to be the proxy teacher for the in-person portion.
Today was the third day of school and the first day that I didn’t bite someone’s head off. First it was from the shock, sadness and anger of seeing all the contents of my classroom sitting in the hallway. We had just found out that the teachers had been moved into staff rooms. Students will be assigned to just one room and stay there all day. Teachers will go to the students. I was assigned to a room with my elementary department. My old classroom had been assigned to a group of middle school teachers. There were five of us in each room–no room to take the contents of our old classrooms into our new office spaces.
“What am I supposed to do with all this stuff?” I asked, too emotionally. “Are you planning to bring all your stuff into your new staff room? All of you? How does that work? How can I take this into my staff room? You’ve all left your stuff in your rooms, right? Why do I alone have to take possession of all this fifth grade material? Never mind, I don’t even want it. Let’s just leave it here and let the children walk around it next Tuesday.” Yes, that kind of blah, blah, blah, gibberish came out of my mouth. I walked away and didn’t look back. It wasn’t any of their faults, but it happened because of some misunderstanding / miscommunication. All the materials eventually were put back into my room.
Beginning the year, we got a “pep talk” from the board that wasn’t very peppy. Then we received these important “rules” to remember this year: “Keep people separate. Keep school clean.” OK, the clean school part is fine, but really? “Keep people separate” made me so sad. How can we have school separately?
Today in the news there was a report about a possible new vote coming, that if passed, would keep students at home instead of blended learning. So we have that to add to our week. That all these plans and schedules might have to be redone again.
Our school motto is Strong Students. Strong Community. This chalkboard message, after a long summer, is above my desk in the new staff room. I noticed it today and it seemed like a metaphor for 2020.