Wednesday, September 29, 2021

There's No Tired Like Pandemic Tired

For a while, I thought it was just me. I've been coming home every day after work feeling like I've just crawled the entire Gobi Desert. I sit down and I don't want to get up. In fairness, I get to work by 6:30 AM and I usually wake up around 4 AM. Because our school is so outlandishly overcrowded, we're on a 14 period day. Because I'm a dean, I report period zero to help get kids in when they come early.

I've been talking to teachers a lot younger than I am who have the same experience. It doesn't matter when they come in. Everyone I know is adjusting to a new experience--going to work. While we've worked through the pandemic, teaching online is not quite the immersive experience that teaching face to face is. For me, at least, when I taught online I had little idea what, if anything, my students were doing. If I'm in a classroom I walk around and check work of every person in the room. I'm really a lot more useful as a live teacher. 

We know, though, what makes us tired. It's lack of oxygen, and when we sleep we replenish it. When you're wearing a mask all day, though, you get just a little less of it. I don't know about you, but given the plague I don't think a cheap mask is sufficient. I've been favoring KF94 masks from Korea. They have a sort of air pocket and adjust so you don't fog your glasses. I hope, of course, that they help keep us from contracting the virus.

Nonetheless, I'm kind of catching up. Yesterday I had a lot more energy than any day previous, and I'm hoping today will be even better. I've even started doing things after work aside from sitting zonked out in front of a television. I'm not complaining about work, actually. I'm just getting used to it again. 

I suppose we all are. It's shocking not only to be back, but also to be back masked. I have a whole new group of students and I don't really know what any of them even look like. For me, at least, it makes learning names just that much more difficult, especially as students move their seats around to find the best place for them. I don't really mind that, since my classes aren't so large, but I've cut a bunch of manila folders into name plates. They help, so far, but I'm really hoping not to need them soon. 

Then, of course, there's the stress of knowing we're in a pandemic. Against that landscape, we watch the mayor doing everything in his power to act like it's not happening. He wants all schools open and as little quarantining as possible. In a way, that's a good thing. However, it seems he's determined to do this with little or no regard to our safety or that of our students. As we all walk around knowing this, it's hard to feel energized.

As if that all isn't enough, we have people leaving the job rather than get the vaccine. While I am personally unlikely to miss people who make such a decision, it brings stress to those of us who remain. Some teachers may jump up and down at the opportunity to make more money teaching an extra class, but I'd argue it's not healthy to be stretched out so far. I never take an extra class. This job, under normal circumstances, is stressful and taxing, and no one ought to have to teach an extra class.

Clearly that doesn't concern Mayor de Blasio or any of the geniuses who inhabit Tweed. Not a single one of them will step off their pedestals and condescend to teach, or work as a security guard, or do any of the duties that will need doing as a result of the vaccine mandate. Make no mistake, I support the mandate, but I think there should've been thoughtful and extensive preparation for the inevitable parade of Tucker viewers out the door. In fact,  I think the mandate should be extended to all eligible students. However, I don't expect the mayor to go that way. While he's willing to piss off a few unionized school workers, he doesn't want to anger a much larger group of parents. His convictions extend just so far.

It's going to be a rough year. I wish every one of my colleagues around the city and state the best of luck.

We're certainly going to need it.

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