Kate, PhD Psychology, Year 1
Happy April everyone! Here we are in the final countdown to the end of term. For those of you graduating or taking a summer off from school: congratulations, you deserve it! It has been an incredibly tough year. I have not quite been able to wrap my head around the peculiarity of the last couple of semesters. My friend said it up best when she declared that 2020 “felt equally like the longest and shortest year in human history.” The waiting and watching and general uncertainty seemed to drag out every each and every month. Yet, at the same time, it was hard to fathom when the COVID-19 pandemic surpassed its one-year anniversary.
When the pandemic first hit, it felt like, out of nowhere, a thick smog rapidly descended over the entire world and, in an instant, obscured everything from view. Its tendrils spread wide and fast, surely tainting most if not every facet of our daily lives. At first, the panic and confusion made it difficult to adjust to, but every day the mist cleared a little more, and every day we could see just a little bit further ahead of us. As a student, I felt completely lost in the beginning, but as the months passed, COVID-19 made me reflect on a few notions I have about school and education. Join me as I reflect on how the pandemic has moulded and strengthened my beliefs about what school means to me.
I really love to teach
At the beginning of the pandemic, I remember feeling concerned that the switch to virtual classes would obstruct my ability to be a good TA. Without weekly interactions with the students, I was sure I would not be able to form a rapport with students. That has absolutely not been the case. I have not gotten to know as many students as I have in past years, but I have still been able to to foster a supportive and positive learning environment. If anything, the pandemic has made me more conscientious about answering student emails. Since students cannot ask questions about assignments during labs or tutorials, our one stable line of communication is email. That means I now typically reply to emails right away. Of course, I would prefer to be interacting in a classroom, but I am relieved to say that I still love teaching and being a part of students’ educational network, even if it is through alternative channels.
My support network is stronger than I ever realized
Secondly, the pandemic has taught me that I have a lot of people in my corner. While social distancing has prevented us from physically being with our friends and family, it has not stopped me from staying connected with them in other ways. I have always enjoyed talking on the phone, and the pandemic has only ramped up the number of hours spent calling and video-chatting with my friends and family. Throughout the past year, I have come to lean on my social circle more than ever before. They are my rock, and I am so glad I have people with whom I can reach out when I am feeling stressed or worried. While the pandemic has tested me in more ways than I can count, my devotion to “my people” has remained stronger than ever.
With the vaccination program moving steadily forward in Canada, many of us are finally able to see the light at the end of the tunnel (I hope things are going as well for those of you in other places). As such, I am finally allowing myself to imagine a return to normality. I cannot wait until the day when I can teach students in person and meet up with friends to celebrate birthdays. But for now I am content to continue giving this virtual/distanced world my all. Good luck on your final exams: remember your TAs, family, friends, and everyone at SASS are there for you!
Wishing everyone a safe, happy, and healthy spring & summer!