I don’t think that anybody is going to disagree with me when I say that the last couple of years have been strange ones. A lot of people had to reimagine what their lives were, and many routines that we lived by had to be thrown away as we tried to figure out a new way to make it work. Teaching was probably one of the biggest fields that really had to rethink the way it did things, and it wasn’t always easy. It definitely tainted the way that people in this career viewed their profession. It was hard to recognize how effective they were being.
Elementary school teachers told tales of students easily distracted and who were more interested in showing off their pets to the rest of class than engaging in the lesson. Middle school teachers also struggled delivering concepts that were verging on being a little more abstract and students being able to follow simple instructions. My experience as a high school teacher showed me a new perspective. I can tell you what the foreheads of all of my students look like, but beyond that I haven’t a clue. I was amazed at the amount of students that could not figure out how to tilt the cameras on their computers so I could see their whole face. Of course, this was a great way to hide what they were really doing, texting their friends, or playing video games. I completely understand why they loved this style of learning because it meant that they didn’t have to do much and then later pretend that the stress of being online all of the time was the reason for their low production.
Of course, I was not much better. There would be many times that I would stare out my window wondering what the outside world had to offer when I should have been doing some work instead. It was really hard to stay motivated in the place I had reserved for relaxation. The lines between work and home blurred, and I am still struggling to separate the two even though last night was my last night of the school year and the last time I would work at this school. I still woke up this morning thinking that I needed to check my email, grade some papers and prepare some lessons, but this was not the case. It will take a few days before I will be able to shed this feeling and see life in a different light.
I did say my final farewell to the school last night after watching the awards ceremony for the high school. It was a little bit of relief, but I will not be able to celebrate until tonight. Because I was working in Oregon at the time, 14 hours ahead of the time of the school in Thailand, it was really late at night and I just wanted to get to bed instead of unwind from the school year. Blowing off a little steam will help me make this adjustment as I say goodbye to the school.
It is something that I have wished to do for about a year now, and my negative attitude towards the school is not necessarily fair. Yes, the school has some problems that will take an uncomfortable couple of years to overcome, and I do not necessarily agree with a lot of its philosophies, I have dumped an undue amount of negativity at the school. Most of this is because I have associated the school with the problems of Covid and teaching online. I don’t think I could be at any school and spend time teaching online and look at the school favorably. It is not an easy thing to do, and I am happy that it is all over. I hope that I will never have to spend time teaching online again.
On the other hand, I do not think I can look past the pain of online teaching when I look at the school. It will always be looked at through that lens. Even during the times I got to spend teaching my students face to face, it was stressful. It gets really tiring to tell students to put on their masks correctly to stop the spread of this deadly disease while other teachers on campus make comments about how the disease is a hoax and masks are useless. It is a noble fight against a losing cause.
Overall, it is a chapter in the book that is my life. I could close that chapter and hope to never revisit again, or I could look at the pain and frustration from this time in my life and learn from the experience. It will always be what it was, but I may look back at my time with this school in Thailand with some fondness. There were always the students, some of my all time favorites in my long career, who worked hard and were so eager to learn. It was the best English department I ever worked for. And most of the time that I lived out there, I did not have to worry about this world wide pandemic in the same way that many other people elsewhere had to. I just need to close that chapter for right now, and prepare for the next one coming up at the end of the summer. It may be an opportunity to put this Covid kind of lifestyle behind us, and look to a future that resembles that happy life we all once lived.