If there is anything I have learned throughout the pandemic, the way that I learned how to teach is no longer the way I will teach. I know that sounds like an utterly confusing statement. Still, the reality of the situation is that everything we have learned about education has been turned upside down and will never be the same again. I am an English teacher at a French school in the UK and would like to share my teaching experience through a face mask.
Among the many rules that have come with going back to school concerning the virus came wearing the mask. Now, I would gladly handle social distancing, making sure there’s plenty of soap in the bathroom at all times, and not seeing students lick their fingers and then proceed to stick those same fingers into the communal Doritos bag. However, wearing the mask while teaching has been a downright frustrating experience.
At this point, all of us know how difficult it is to breathe with a safety mask. While all of us want ourselves and those around us to be protected, it is challenging to talk effectively and breathe at the same time when it is our own hot air hitting us in the face. Many teachers argue that wearing these all day long makes them tired and puts stress on their voice. Teachers must get those much-needed “mask breaks” throughout the day to get fresh air.
Overall, I feel like I have tried my very best to keep my mascon in all circumstances. However, there have been many times I’ve had to social distance myself as far away as I can and pull the mask down so students at the back of the class can hear what I’m saying. Sometimes, social distancing is not an option, and pulling down my mask to speak is the only way for students to listen to me. Aside from going to each student in the back, still staying 6 ft away, and potentially being in contact with more than just the two at the front. Some of my colleges use a personal voice amplifier now while teaching, which is a great solution.
Besides having to pull down my mask EVERY SINGLE TIME I want to access my iPhone, I can hardly recognize my students when I see them with their masks down! Some of my students, while eating breakfast, will have pulled their masks down to eat breakfast, and it took me a solid 20 minutes before I realized who they were!
If you are any person who likes to drink water throughout the day, you know what I am saying here! Having to pull down my ask every time I take a drink of water is super frustrating, especially since it is vital to stay hydrated throughout the day. Further, eating an afternoon snack during class time has proved more difficult than ever with the up and down of the mask for each bite.
In conclusion, I know all of us to hope this whole pandemic will be over soon, but it is still going relatively strong over a year later. Many have found ways to cope with teaching while wearing the mask. Even though it is difficult, have patience and find ways to make light of the mask-wearing and still enjoy teaching.