The results from the most recent ATA pulse survey indicate that nearly 63 per cent of respondents felt a sense of isolation. Though this number is down from the previous survey (68 per cent), it is still one of the numbers that I find the most concerning.
Teaching is about relationships; isolation is not. The way we interact with one another during the school day is the reason why so many of us enjoy teaching. When I talk with new teachers at induction ceremonies, I urge them to focus on the relationships they build with their students, their colleagues and the school community. It’s those relationships that make schools a great place to be. COVID has made this so much harder now.
I’ll admit, I often get “homesick” for school. I miss my students, my colleagues, and the conversations we would have about learning and life. I hear from teachers across the province who feel the same way — they also miss school. Teachers have told me they miss their colleagues even though they may be in the same building. I hear about closed staff rooms and of teachers eating lunch in their rooms or in their cars. I hear from teachers working in an online environment missing the connection they had with their students prepandemic. Life through a screen is not it’s all cracked up to be.
So how do we combat this sense of isolation? How do we connect with one another and support each other as we see cases rise in the province compounded with another round of online teaching? I am not sure anyone has the perfect answer during such an imperfect year, but we start by giving it a voice, by recognizing that the problem is there.
Though it’s hard and the days are exhausting, we need to each try to combat the isolation together. There are many ways to connect with each other: text, email, Snapchat, TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, Zoom — I have used them all. But really, for me the most effective way to connect is to pick up the phone, dial the number and ask “how are you?” ❚
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