Donegal mum and teacher Maria Rushe shares her conflicting thoughts on going back to school this year, and they'll be familiar thoughts for many mammies this week.
Maria the Mammy…
Not a hope.
Not sending them ANYWHERE NEAR schools.
Need to keep them safe.
Can’t control things when they’re away from me.
Feck the government and their ineptitude.
I don’t want them to be away from me.
I don’t want them to be frightened or worried or scared by anything.
I don’t want to think about how they can’t hug their friends or play with other kids who aren’t in their pod or whatever.
I don’t want them to go on a bus, mixing with kids from 6 different schools.
I don’t want to have to send them to Afterschool
I’ve had 6 months of keeping them close and knowing they’re safe.
They miss school
They need school
They miss their friends
They need more social interaction
They need more than Myself and their Daddy.
They need normality.
They need education…because Homeschooling DID NOT happen here. (Kind of difficult when both of us were working full time from home.)
They need other adult voices.
They need routine.
They’re in a wonderful school and have wonderful teachers who I know will do everything to keep them safe and secure.
Maria the Múinteoir…
I don’t want to put myself or anyone of my colleagues or students in harm’s way.
What if I get it?
What if I’m an Asymptomatic carrier?
What if one of my kids gets sick and it’s my fault?
What is it going to be like going into work?
Am I going to be able to do my job properly?
Am I going to have a classroom?
Am I going to be able to make the kids feel safe and secure?
How can I support the students who need support?
How can I teach in my usual groupwork and collaborative style when they have to be socially distanced and I can’t sit beside them?
What about my students with extra needs?
How can I not meet more than 5 friends for dinner, but I can stand in a room with up to 30 young adults for up to 80 minutes?
How is under Jesus is this going to work?
I can’t wait to get back to work.
I miss my colleagues.
I miss my babies.
I miss teaching.
I need routine.
I need adult conversation.
I need some sort of normality.
My students need school.
I know it’ll be OK
I trust my management to keep us safe.
I will absolutely do MY best to keep my students feeling safe.
Teachers are a resilient bunch.
We’ll do our best.
And it WILL all be OK.
We are not in control and we can only deal with things as they come.
Our front line workers, back in March, had to navigate their way through terrifying times with little or no guidelines, and they got it done.
They did such an incredible job in the “unprecedented” waters they had to wade into, and they adapted as they went.
They are heroes and while we as teachers are nervous and worried, and our fears should not be dismissed, we too will navigate and learn as we go.
So many of us are experiencing all sorts of emotions this week, especially those of us who are parents also. We are genuinely torn.
I need the Mammies and Daddies who are feeling the exact same way as I am as a Mammy, to trust me in the same way that I have to put MY trust in my daughters’ teachers.
I need the parents who are sending their kids into me, to trust that I will do my absolute best to make sure that their children are able to learn in the new environment, and that they feel safe and secure in my presence.
I need the parents to understand that I understand THEIR worries, because I too am a Mammy who is nervous (terrified) about releasing my little girls into the big scary world right now too.
I ask the parents of my school babbies to remember that none of us have worked in the current environment before, and that all of the newness in schools is new to us too.
We are frightened. We are worried. We are anxious. And our fears are real.
But we are determined and we are professional and we are fully qualified to educate. And as teachers, we care about your kids.
The emotional chaos of the sudden closure of schools in March was huge… but that’s a whole other article.
We have to stay positve, especially in front of our kids. They can only feel safe and secure if they see that WE feel safe and secure. Difficult as it might be right now, let them hear the positives.
And while Maria the Mammy might fall apart in the utility room a few times this week at the thought of MY precious babies leaving me every day to go to a whole new world, Maria the teacher will pull myself together, take a deep breath, hang up my tracksuit and go back through the doors of my much missed school, to teach and to support your precious babies.
And it will all be absolutely grand.