Oh, those pesky bugs!
It's mid January and we are now fully invested...or should I say infested in Cold and Flu season. The past two weeks my classroom has been pretty much decimated by the most recent bug. One day this week 60% of my class was absent due to illness, not to mention one of my E.A.'s as well. As my teacher readers well know, our students share a great deal with us, including way too much information on bodily fluids and how they emanate from us when we are sick. I enjoy bathroom humor as much as my students do, but I have heard way too much about poop and vomit this week.
They also generally share whatever virus they get with us. I remember early in my career being told by colleagues that teachers build up immunity to most viruses after a few years, but this has not been the case for me. About 95% of the time, I tend to get whatever virus enters my classroom, despite washing my hands obsessively until they are raw, disinfecting surfaces, regular flu shots and other home remedies.
However, this time, I was the Typhoid Mary of the classroom. Everyone came back from Christmas break healthy, except me. I came back with a bug, likely picked up at the hockey arena or at a holiday function the last weekend of the break. It seems to have been an incredibly virulent virus, because no one has emerged unscathed. I have simply infected them all. After more than 20 plus years of teaching and getting all the cold and flu bugs my students have shared with me, I'm feeling a bit, "Sorry, Not Sorry."
Driving home on Friday, after having to send two more students home midway through the day with flu symptoms, I got to thinking, it's too bad I couldn't viralize other things to infect them with. I mean, wouldn't it be great if I could infect them with a love of reading or learning in general? I'd love to give them a bug that would get them to believe in themselves and their abilities, instead of listening to the negative comments of others, or their own negative self talk. What if I could infect them with resilience, so that they could take the lemons life hands them and make the most refreshing lemonade out of them every time? How about a virus that reminds them to be kind to each other, at every opportunity, in every exchange? Or a bug that gives them the courage to take risks, to try new things, to be open to new experiences? I really should have paid more attention in Chemistry and Biology class - I might have gained the ability to create these "super-bugs."
Alas, I've got to work with what I've got. Every day, Teachers are going into their classrooms and trying to give our students some sort of vaccine to inoculate them against whatever life throws at them. Through our training, professional reading and ongoing learning we improve our practice and pedagogy and hope to eradicate the bugs that ail us. Things like Tribes, Community building, Digital Citizenship, Reading programs, Growth Mindset, (this list could go on and on) are all things we are doing and trying and honing to make our classrooms healthy.
I fear I may have extended this metaphor much too far. It could be the cold medication. Maybe I've had one cough candy too many. Perhaps this is all just a fever inspired rant. However, I would love to hear what kinds of things you would like to infect your students with - and what you are currently using in place of my viralization theory. In the meantime, pass the Kleenex and stock up on Vicks Vaporub...it's only January, and Cold and Flu season won't end for months.