Earlier today, Nicholas Feroni (@NicholasFerroni) shared a post on Twitter. He tweeted, “While we are all concerned about the coronavirus, I want to remind everyone that EVERY SINGLE DAY elementary school teachers come into direct contact with mystery fluids and every germ known to man…”
It made me think about our classroom battles with germs. Maybe "germ wars" would be a
better way to describe the work teachers must put in to the classroom environment to keep it safe and germ free. Here are just a few items in my battle bunker:
As a teacher, I know that germs are active members of the environment. They are everywhere and we know it. Due to the constant exposures to germs, teachers are known to have a greater immunity to germs than the average person. Each day, our battle begins anew.
Hand washing, desk wiping, sanitizer, hand washing, desk wiping, sanitizer, until… the need for pure vinegar arises, but that’s another story.
How do we remember to do it all? It’s not so hard. I’m easily reminded with the sight of a student’s open palm wiping up and across their runny nose. Eeek! When you bear witness to something like that, it’s not too hard to remember the need for hand washing.
Yesterday, however, we all needed to stop for a moment to remember how it’s done.
“Watch me… A, B, C, D, E, F, G... “ I sang softly to my 4th grade students as I rubbed my hands together causing an explosion of suds. I rubbed my hands and sang that song all the way up to the letter Z. Then, I rinsed, rubbed, and dried my hands. They stood surrounding me. No one made a sound. They weren’t quite sure how to proceed with their fourth grade teacher singing a song better fitted for a group in a younger grade. They stared, until finally they began to crack up, smile, and giggle. It was all pretty silly, really. Reteaching hand washing to my fourth grade students, most of who are as tall as I am, was actually pretty amusing.
“If your hand washing takes 5 seconds, your hands are not really washed.” I share my last words. Blank stares, again. Silence. After just a few seconds of silence, they begin smiling again. I smile back at them. Okay, I think to myself, they get it. After a pretty good demonstration and modeling of the intended outcome, I think I’ve made my point. I’m feeling pretty good about the whole demonstration. Not only did I get my students to understand why it’s important to take your time when washing your hands, I made them laugh in the process. Score!
“I need to wash my hands,” the voice of one student calls out, in a rush towards the classroom sink. I step aside, still drying my hands in a couple of brown paper towels.
“But I washed my hands earlier!” an unexpected voice calls out in protest.
“Don’t you see?” says the student behind her, holding her palms out like a lawyer in the middle of her closing argument, “She wants us to wash our hands, so we don’t catch the coronavirus.”
“What? No. I just want to keep things germ free in here! We just need to keep our hands clean… just wash your hands, please.”