I have felt like the job that I have loved from day one had lost its shine lately. I am certain it is a combination of Covid and all the changes that have made the job almost impossible to recognize from the elements I loved so much. The shoulder to shoulder work, the face to face discussions. Those have long disappeared if we choose to follow the guidelines meant to at least appear to keep us safe. So alterations have been made to my style. We still are having fun, we are still reading and writing it just hasn’t felt the same. Almost like it is Bizzaro world. Similar but off enough to not be right.
We came back live after an extended time of virtual and then Christmas break (6 weeks). Monday morning I realized that this will mark the first time I had taught FULL time since March. We closed in class instruction at that time until September and in September a student teacher joined us who took on half my classes. First time full time in a long while. I was excited. I had fun things planned but in the back of my mind I was still wondering if I could find what I loved again.
I did and it was hiding with my students all along.
We started an inquiry project looking at how isolation impacts our identity in 8th grade this week. Looking at Northern communities and food access is step one. We have created grocery lists and compared local prices to those of northern communities. Students were shocked at the disparity. We had conversations about why these inequities formed, we briefly touched on the history of the Canadian government and First Nations groups and the rules established that limited the ability of First Nations groups to support themselves in traditional ways. We discussed why those rules would even exist. Students talked about power and control and how the abuse of that power was the beginning of these food costs inequities through limiting movement and erasing cultures. Isolation.
Our next step will be looking at access to clean water. Researching these cases and asking why? Listening to people talk about how these water issues impact how they see themselves. How seeing governments ignore their plight impacts their own self worth. Students are currently studying water sheds in science and this discussion will blend in perfectly.
The final steps of the project will look the real consequences of these actions and ask the students to not only look at solutions but to take action. The kids are engaged, they are outraged and the next step is helping them to be empowered to try and make a difference.
I have always found joy in teaching. Covid and restriction and all these other real and immense distractions clouded that joy often but this week I have found it again. In the inquiring minds of Grade 8 students, and don’t even get me started on the awesome Grade 10 students that decided they would be making picture books for their final assignments because we can’t forget to have fun in all this mess either.