Weekend Coffee Share: Back To School

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that it has been weeks since I have felt the urge to blog. Going back to school has been exhausting – even more so than usual because of the Covid protocols. It has taken a couple of weeks for us all to get used to it – in another few weeks, it may begin to feel like normal.

If we were having coffee, you may ask me what protocols are being implemented. I would tell you that the most tiring one is wearing a mask from the time I enter the school premises to the time I leave. Breathing in my carbon dioxide does fatigue me – as does trying to teach with my mouth and nose covered. I find myself needing to make more of an effort not only with breathing but also with speaking. In addition, the children are also wearing mask and it does make it harder for me to hear them and understand what they are saying.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the masks we are wearing have been provided by the school board and are medical grade masks – I can smell it as soon as I put one on. We are expected to wear the masks provided and no other; and to change them frequently. In addition to the masks, we are expected to wash and/or sanitize our hands frequently.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the children also need to wash/sanitise their hands often. We go through the routine each time they enter the classroom and exit to go out for recess/lunch/home. By the end of the day yesterday, I noticed that the children now have the rhythm of cleaning their hands so often.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my teaching practice has had to change a little. No longer do round tables fill my room: I needed to switch to individual desks due to the Covid expectation of maintaining physical distance between the students. At the beginning of the year, my room looked bare with only the essential furniture in it.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am happy it is the weekend. I am feeling tired and look forward to resting a little. Once I have done my weekend chores, I intend to read and probably nap in the afternoon. On Sunday afternoon, I will figure out what to teach in the upcoming week – and start thinking how I will read with each child and still maintain physical distance.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Eclectic Ali and the Weekend Coffee Share)

Weekend Coffee Share: A Few Changes

If we were having coffee, I would greet you with a smile – but still no hug. Even though our numbers have gone down, people are still being cautious. Just seeing my friends, however, has been a big plus for me as I connect with those I care about.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that blogging (or any kind of social media) hasn’t been on my mind recently. As the temperatures have slowly crept up again, I have been spending a lot of time thinking about what going back to school will look like. The last few weeks have been uncertain as I keep checking my email and no news has been sent by the school board. The issue has been front and centre in the news as all the interested parties hash it out in the media. It has certainly been stressful as everything printed is conjecture and no certain decisions have been made.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the school board I work for (the TDSB) did propose a plan which was rejected by the Minister of Education for Ontario. The reason cited was that students would lose 49 minutes of learning time a day. On Friday I learned that the school board had propsed another plan. This plan must have been accepted as I received notification of it via email on Friday evening.

If we were having coffee, you may ask me what this plan is. Honestly I am happy to see that even within the school board, the plan is to spend more funds on the schools that need it; schools that are in areas of greater risk. I am a firm believer that the virus spreads a lot quicker in poverty-stricken areas as the people living below the poverty-line will have less resources to protect themselves and their community. In these areas, class sizes will be a lot smaller and the Board is on the hunt for other spaces that can be used to teach children outside of the school property.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the school I work at is not in a high risk area. So what does it mean for me personally? It means I will have a class of 20 students (which is per usual). The junior classes at our school will be capped at 27 – which is less than usual. We will now wait to see what happens because next week parents will fill in a survey to choose whether they want their children to have in-class sessions or virtual sessions. I will not be surprised if some kids at the school where I teach stay at home especially as there are a few stay-at-home moms in the area.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my class list, or even my assignment may change. Despite this, I will take the opportunity to go into school next week to label furniture that can be taken out of my room and to place desks to ensure that 20 students are able to keep their distance within the space. When I go in, I will also take to opportunity to have a chat with my principal.

If we were having coffee, you may say to me that all of this is last minute – and you would be right. School will be starting one week later to give everyone the time to get ready: class lists will need to be updated, teachers need to be rearranged, and timetables need to be reconstructed. We will be participating in Professional Activity days on 1, 2, and 3 September during which we will probably be involved in all of this as well as undergo training.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that during this past week I have seen some friends of mine. Before school starts I intend to see them as often as I can. I know when school starts up, I will have a lot to deal with: new students, the new school year and everything that comes with that, and dealing with all the expectations related to COVID-19 prevention. I need to take the opportunity to breathe deeply and relax before all that tension begins.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the upcoming week will be the last one before the school-related things begin. I intend to make the most of it.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Eclectic Ali and the Weekend Coffee Share)

Weekend Coffee Share: The First Week of August

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I cannot believe that the first week of August has passed! It seems that for months days have merged into one another and time has had no meaning. As the days of August pass, however, I am beginning to acknowledge that time is passing – especially as the new school year approaches.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that we have been told that we will be attending school full-time in September – and that the kindergarten to grade 3 children will not be expected to wear masks. We have also been told that the group will stay together throughout the day in the classroom – including lunch. The ministry of education has also promised that spaces will be deep cleaned daily. I shudder to think what all this means for me as a teacher – I know for sure that more will be expected of me and that I will be expected to follow certain protocols, keep things clean, and keep the children separate from one another. Thinking about all this is causing me stress. As of yet our school board hasn’t given us direction but our union has been on top of things and is having discussions with them.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am trying my best to not let all the uncertainty affect me. Now that we have opened up a little more in the city and are in stage 3, I am able to meet up with a friend of mine and share a coffee and a meal. This past week we dined in at a restaurant – for the first time since the quarantine began – and were able to linger over our meal. I took public transit to meet up with her and I was surprised by how few people are currently taking the bus and train. I am thinking that will change in the Fall as schools re-open and parents go back to working at their companies.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that meeting up with my friend was definitely the highlight of my week. For the rest of the week, I have been reading and crocheting. Our week inside has not been pleasant, though, as construction work is happening on our balconies and the noise has been unbearable at times. Even though many people complained that the noise is affecting their ability to work from home, the construction activity was not halted. This is what happens when the people who make these decisions live in their big, fancy houses far away from the city!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this weekend we have made plans to go to a huge Chinese supermarket. My husband is excited as he is keen to find some supplies for the recipes he wants to try out. My excitement stems from doing something different – and from getting out of the apartment for a while!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the following week will be more of the same. Hopefully something will happen to surprise me 🙂

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Eclectic Ali and the Weekend Coffee Share)

Weekend Coffee Share: First Week of Summer Break

If we were having coffee, I would tell you to come inside and sit near the fan – it is HOT outside and you would need to cool down. Today is the fourth day of our current heat wave and I am sure you would want something cold to drink.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I haven’t been able to blog for the last few weeks. Not only was I tired of sitting in front of the computer; but I was also feeling a little sad. The end of the school year was hard mentally and emotionally for both me and my students. I was not able to end the year correctly with my them – nor tidy up my classroom space. I arranged Google Meets online to say goodbye but it was not the same.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have been on the Summer Break for one week now. I like not sitting in front of the computer for the entire day working and have not opened my laptop for seven days now. Working in front of the computer has been the only indicator that school is over. As we have been isolating at home for four months now, being on break does not have the same feel to it. I am hoping, though, that I can get to do some of the other things I usually do during the school vacation.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my hopes of doing the usual seem slim. Going shopping is going to be a problem: fitting rooms are not available to try on clothing; and the lines to get into stores are over an hour long! It doesn’t seem worth it to me. (I did spend Thursday and Friday giving it a go). Coffee shops are open for business – but we cannot sit at a table inside and enjoy the space. In addition, the cinemas are not open so we cannot pop in to enjoy a film. It will be frustrating if the next two months are similar to the last four.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my husband has been cooking up a storm. He has made noodles from scratch (as well as wontons); tried his hand at briyani and a delicious Indian curry; grilled some delicious ribs; and experimented with a variety of vegetable dishes. He even made croissants – which took him three days to prepare! We have enjoyed eating the offerings Chez Roland. It has also given me a most welcome break from cooking! 😀

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that on Wednesday we celebrated Canada Day. My husband and I invited our nephew over to eat with us as we hadn’t seen him for 4 months. It was good to see him and to see that he is doing okay – seeing someone in the flesh is always better than texting. Even though we spent the day indoors, we still had a good time with family. Hopefully next year we will be able to go out again and celebrate with others.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I do not have any plans for the upcoming week – except to go to the nursery. I have some re-potting that I need to do so I will buy soil and some pots. Have a wonderful upcoming week and may it be filled with things that bring you joy.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Eclectic Ali and the Weekend Coffee Share)

Weekend Coffee Share: A Week of Reporting

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that we are still living under restrictions. We are now able to have a social bubble up to 10 people so at least social interaction with other families can happen. Plenty of stores are still closed, however, as the number of cases has not gone down enough in the city to move completely into what is called stage 2. So no eating at restaurants, having your hair cut, or visiting the library.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have spent the week in front of the computer writing my report cards. It was not an easy task because of the school closure and not having worked with children face-to-face for 3 months now. On Thursday afternoon I finished and submitted them with a sigh of relief. Next week I will do the corrections and I will then be done with another end of the year task.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this weekend I am tired and yesterday I took a day off away from the computer screen. Teaching remotely does mean I am in front of the computer more often. It also means that when it comes time to blog, I need a break from from sitting in front of my laptop and therefore can no longer foster the desire to type and stare at the screen. Hopefully this upcoming week it will be easier.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the weather was a little chilly for the last four days. The cooler temperatures made my morning walks more refreshing and also made it easier to breathe in our home (which does not have air conditioning). I am sure it will get warm again soon so I am currently enjoying the milder temperatures.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that there are 2 more weeks left of school and then it will be the summer holidays! I am hoping by then that I will be able to meet up with my friend and go shopping for things we need at home. In the meantime, I will continue with my work and look forward to the time that I can do so.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Eclectic Ali and the Weekend Coffee Share)

Weekend Coffee Share: First Week of June

If we were having coffee, we would still be meeting virtually. Even though some stores have opened up in our city for curbside pickup, we cannot yet meet up for coffee at our local coffee shop. I long for the time that I can do so and I look forward to chatting with a friend and experiencing the buzz of people around me.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that in the final week of May, we were told that we would continue with remote teaching until the end of June and the end of the school year. I was disappointed to learn that I would not be spending time with my students, but the decision was what I expected. We will know by the end of June what the new school year will look like in September. Our province is looking to others to see what their experience of going back to school is like.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that on Tuesday afternoon I went into school to place my students’ belongings into bags and to tidy up things a little in the classroom. My heart felt a little sad as I saw the incomplete projects lying around in the room; projects that I will not be able to complete with this year’s group of students. I had to organise and tidy everything within a 3 hour framework. Both my daughters came to help me and I would not have managed to do as much as I did without their help.

If we were having coffee, I would ask you if you have noticed the new banner on my blog. My daughter (who is studying art at university) created it for me. She also created the specific banner for my weekly coffee share. What do you think? I like the clean-cut lines of it – and the banners definitely make my space look more professional. Slowly I am cleaning up my blog and hopefully taking it to the next level.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that during the next week I will be focusing on report cards. I have not seen my students for 3 months and I know that writing them is not going to be easy. I will be focusing on what we did in class before the March Break, and mentioning as well the tasks that they have completed during the school closure and the remote learning period. The upcoming week is definitely not going to be an easy one as I grapple with them.

If we were having coffee, I would encouraged you to enjoy the upcoming week and to focus on the positive. This is what I am going to try and do.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Eclectic Ali and the Weekend Coffee Share)

Weekend Coffee Share: More of the Same

If we were having coffee, I would greet you with a resigned smile. We have now passed the 2 month mark of the social distancing and stay-at-home mandate – and the ending of this seems so far away. Ontario is moving into stage 1 of loosening the noose on Tuesday 19 May, but that will not in any way alter my current lifestyle. I cannot help but sigh as I look forward to another two weeks of remote teaching. It has not yet been confirmed whether or not we will go back to school on the 31st May – I am thinking we will be told in a week or so. Somehow I don’t think we will.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that tomorrow is a public holiday in Canada – Victoria Day – and yet it will seem the same as every other day. Tuesday will be filled with meetings as we discuss where we are going to place children for next year’s classes. I think that doing this remotely may be a bit of a challenge but we will do the best for the kids in our class. I am wondering what next year is going to look like and what the impact of the COVID-19 virus will have on our practice. At least the monotony of Tuesday will be broken by our small celebration for my youngest daughter who is turning 19 years old. My plan is to buy her a cake and to cook one of her favourite meals.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the remote teaching is becoming easier – but there are times when I am out of ideas to keep my students engaged. They do love my Google MEET sessions with me and sometimes when talking with them, their chatter inspires an idea to take seed in my brain.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that not only am I uninspired to create classes, but also to write blog posts. This past week, no ideas sprang to mind but I am hoping that the upcoming week will be better. The temperatures are slowly inching up so I am thinking it is time to set up our balcony which will give us another space to work in. Luckily our wifi reaches the space so we can take our laptops outside to work. Maybe breathing in the fresh air and sitting at a different table will be inspiring.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am reading (too much!) and am working on a crocheted afghan (while listening to audiobooks). I am also still enjoying my morning walks in the neighbourhood which have definitely become a part of my daily routine. I am looking forward to the time, though, when I can meet with friends and share a cup of tea or coffee in real time.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Eclectic Ali and the Weekend Coffee Share)

Weekend Coffee Share: And Yet Another Week …

If we were having coffee, we would still be practising social distance and chatting virtually. I would tell you that time does seem to be passing quickly as I am kept busy during the week on the tasks I have set for myself with regards to my remote teaching – the weekend seems to sneak up on me. Working does keep me grounded and helps me to know what day of the week it is.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that yesterday (it being Saturday), I felt bored. I felt like I wanted to burst out of the walls surrounding me – and I felt like this despite having gone out for an hour’s walk in the morning. I think what I am craving is the connection with other people besides my husband and daughters. I miss going to work and interacting with both my students and colleagues. I miss going to the gym and exercising with others in my group fitness classes. And I miss meeting up with friends and seeing them right in front of me while we chat and drink coffee together. What does save me from my frustration is the knowledge that we are all in the same boat. I am just grateful that I am not living alone – and that I get on with the people that I do live with.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the virtual meetings with my students went well this week. I had placed them in small groups and each day of the week I made contact with one group of my students. We did the activity that I had prepared and they responded well. My aim was to get them speaking – in French – and I was so happy when they did. In the upcoming week, I will meet with students again through Google Meet with the aim of getting them to speak so that they do not lose the oral ground we had made during the school year.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the breaking news in our province is that the opening date for schools to re-open has been pushed to 31 May. Another 5 weeks minimum of isolating will be hard on us all. I am just hoping that schools do open in June as I would love to see my group of students before the end of the school year.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my upcoming week will look similar to my past week with one difference – my daughter will be turning twenty! We are currently thinking of ways to celebrate her big day. 🙂 May your week be enjoyable – and may you have many positive moments.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Eclectic Ali and the Weekend Coffee Share)

Weekend Coffee Share: Another Week Staying At Home

If we were having coffee, I would greet you at a distance as we are still under the mandate to practice social distancing and stay at home. By now you would think that we are used to living like this. On some level I am used to it – but it is not my preference. I do miss going outside without being conscious of my physical closeness to others; and I do miss connecting with people in my everyday life.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have been keeping up with my morning walk for a week now. I leave home at 7:30am and walk for an hour. The air at that time is still crisp – especially this past week as the temperatures have dropped. There is not too much traffic on the road and the pedestrians are few. The people I pass by are out walking their dogs; and very occasionally a runner may overtake me. I do prefer walking at this hour when there are less people out and about – I am less stressed about keeping my distance from strangers.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this week of remote teaching was very busy. On Tuesday I had a check-in meeting with my principal and she suggested checking in with families. The replies to my check-in email did tell me what I suspected – that I was giving too much work to my students (who do rely on their parents to help them to read and understand instructions). And, as can be expected, many of my students are missing their friends as well as their teacher (me 🙂 ). I decided to address this issue by organising my first video conference with my class (yet another thing I had to learn how to do). The call was successful (yay!) and I plan to connect with my students again in this way during the next week.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that remote teaching takes a lot of time – and that all of that time is spent in front of the computer. By the time my workday was done, I could not face sitting in front of the screen to blog. The result is that for the entire workweek, I did not post – neither on my blog nor on my Instagram account. I had all the ideas mulling in my brain but I needed a break from the screen.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the upcoming week looks very similar to the week that just passed. I am going to try and remember to be kind to myself and to focus on the positive. May you have a good week while staying at home.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Eclectic Ali and the Weekend Coffee Share)

Weekend Coffee Share: Easter Weekend

If we were having coffee, I would wish you a happy Easter if your celebrate this holiday. We usually do in my family but, as my girls were saying last night at dinner, it does not feel like Easter. It certainly does not when the days seem to melt into one another and we have none of the usual reminders that the holiday is coming up. Usually I am talking about this celebration (as well as the Passover celebration) with my students at school. Shopping trips remind me to purchase Easter chocolate and pick up the fixings for our Sunday meal. This year everything will be low key but maybe that is a good thing as it may encourage us to focus on the reason why we have these dates on the Christian calendar.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that there have been times when I have felt boredom creeping in on my days. I have fought back by creating some goals for myself. I have also made sure that I try to exercise a little everyday. For the last three days I have started taking walks in the morning as soon as I get up. I do prefer this time to the afternoon as the streets are so much quieter and social distancing is easier to adhere to. I am thinking I will keep this as my habit as we move into the fifth week of staying at home.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am slowly getting used to working from home. I am not used to siting all day in front of the computer, however, and I often have to get up and stretch my back muscles. Oh how I miss teaching in front of my students! I miss their banter and I miss working with them on projects. At the moment we have been told that schools will open again on the 1st May. I am hoping that they will – though I do have my doubts when I see that the number of COVID-19 cases in Canada are still on the increase.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you to keep following the protocol of social distancing. We will not be living like this forever and there will come a time when things will get back to normal. In the meantime, focus on the positive and take the time to slow down. Be safe and be healthy.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Eclectic Ali and the Weekend Coffee Share)