Social distancing: Slice of Life 13/31 #SOL20

Just for today, I let the grade 10s leave before the final bell officially rang. They had asked all their questions, turned in the memoir they’d been working on, and maintained their composure for 73 minutes. They had even agreed to read at home. It seemed like enough. “Goodbye!” they called, and one or two lingered a few seconds longer than normal.

The period before that, the grade 12 students and I had worked together to make plans for our extended March break – all schools in Ontario are closed until April 5. The students met in their book clubs and planned various ways to meet for discussions: Instagram, Google hangouts Flipgrid and Google classroom will host our synchronous and asynchronous meetings. We talked about the value of journals and documentation during times of crisis, and the students decided to write regularly (I’ll provide prompts) for the next few weeks. They really want to learn, these kids. We watched Kelly McGonigal’s TED Talk “How to make stress your friend” and talked about reaching out to each other during our time apart. I reminded them that they could email me anytime, and I created a new Instagram account dedicated to working with them. I had to take a deep breath after we said goodbye.

I gave all the classroom plants extra water, gathered my things, and headed to the English office. There, several teachers were in the process of clearing out the refrigerator. April 5 is only three weeks away, but our unspoken concern was clear: what if this lasts longer? I swang by our Spec Ed room to pick up the avocado tree; it’s not really supposed to live in Ottawa, and it won’t last long without water. Back in the office, we threw things away, rinsed, washed, recycled. We gathered books, found papers, printed student phone numbers, just in case.

Finally, there was nothing left to do. Our goodbyes echoed through the hallways – “Take care!” “Be safe!” “Stay in touch!” – as teachers from various departments turned off the lights and pulled the doors closed.


Outside of the building, a strong wind threatened to topple the tiny tree I was trying to shelter home. The car door blew shut and my colleague and I, laughing, had to work together to get the tree safely, if awkwardly, ensconced between my knees.

Training ruck march

Moments later, as we turned onto the street in front of the school, a group of soldiers marched by. We knew it was probably a training march, but it seemed oddly apropos. As we drove away from the school, from our students, from our social interactions, the incongruous soldiers in the rearview mirror, we laughed and laughed, trying to forget what we were leaving behind and how little we know of what lies ahead.



14 thoughts on “Social distancing: Slice of Life 13/31 #SOL20

  1. Amanda, it’s such a crazy time and your post really captured the volatility of the situation and the involved emotions. “how little we know of what lies ahead.”–so true and so unsettling. Take care!


  2. This was a strange day, indeed, and one where social relationships with students could develop before they are about to be put on pause. I read this last paragraph twice, because the image and action was so “incongruous”
    and that word choice is perfect for the day and “what lies ahead.”

    Such a thoughtful slice that reminds me of a journal.


  3. Amanda, That you always manage to find the levity in a situation always impresses me. This post is full of caring: you for students and plants; students for learning and one another; colleagues for one another. I thought about the change signified by that closing door and all the implications.


  4. That uneasy laughter you describe sounds like the just-right soundtrack for the present moment. Hang in there.


  5. What an unsettling sight, those soldiers marching. Oh my. This crisis requires a very different defense than we are used to…no military or police can defend us. It’s up to each of us washing our hands! Surreal!!


  6. “one or two lingered a few seconds longer than normal.” I feel like they may have lingered because they wanted one second more of time with their teacher and a setting that was familiar. Because the coming days are going to filled with uncertainty. That’s the buzz word for the day isn’t it? Stay healthy!


  7. The announcement came an hour after I’d left school for March Break yesterday. I didn’t get to do the last minute talks with my students and I’m regretting not sending them home with bags of books. It does feel weird! The image you shared is quite a thing to see in the middle of a crisis.


  8. This is all SO surreal to me. We will have students one day next week and then two days of planning until we are teaching from home… Thank you for providing some suggestions!


  9. This is all SO surreal to me. We will have students one day next week and then two days of planning until we are teaching from home… Thank you for providing some suggestions!


  10. “It’s not really supposed to live in Ottowa.” This line just made me giggle, at first. Then, I thought about how your plant is surviving, despite its uncertain/displaced environment. I think we’re all feeling a bit out of our element here, and I love how that theme runs through this piece, from the plant to the soldiers. We’re all going to have some “strong winds” and “slamming doors” to bear over the next few weeks/months, but with laughter and good colleagues and some connection with our kiddos, we may just make it safely “home”. Thank you for this lovely piece!


  11. As I’m trying to catch up on my commenting, I’ve come back to find this post which makes me a little weepy. I love the way you’ve written about this uncertainty which “notthewholestory” expertly describes in their comment. There’s humor, there’s the surreal, there are the facts of closing up shop for a while. I’m not sure what it is – maybe it’s the contrast of you writing about social distancing while I myself am feeling closer to you than ever as we navigate this crisis on different parts of the globe. Suffice it to say, I am so glad you’re here.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I feel the fear in this post. We don’t know what the future holds. It’s safe to say we all have questions but no one to ask them too. Is this virus as serious as it seems or will it disappear and become yesterdays news? Until then, be safe.


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