Claustrophobic in the Classroom

These are certainly interesting times to be a teacher. Standing at the front of the classroom and seeing 16 pairs of eyes staring back at you, while their faces are covered by a mask. It is a different look and one that has taken some getting used too. There have been certain challenges which have come with teaching during the Covid era, some of which I certainly could never have imagined.

I am a language teacher, so my groups are smaller than those which other teachers have to deal with. The problem is that mine are supposed to be more interactive, so not seeing mouths moving throws up interesting problems. A voice speaks. Can you recognise it? If not, it can be a moment of guesswork, but also a chance to laugh as students and teacher all shake their heads at the ridiculousness of the situation.

I am also behind a mask. It is my job to mingle, chat, converse, so being in contact with so many people each week I am careful and wear a respirator. Breathing isn’t a problem, it is more the headaches I get from the elasticated loops slowly pulling my ears forward. Do they make these things in a children’s size only?

So teaching can now be a strange and uncomfortable experience. My feelings are torn between wanting to fulfil my duties towards the students and remaining safe for me and my family. Schools in many regions of the Czech Republic have been closing for two-week periods, but where I live and work has remained open. For how long? Only time will tell. Until then, I suppose it is just a matter of carrying on as best as we can. One more week, then I think we will get our break from our usual routine. Hopefully it won’t be for too long, but a bit of time teaching remotely, with no mask and a lot more comfort may be just what we need.

Words © Neil Hayes and neilhayeswrites

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