Masks

Randi Fielding Uncategorized

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My mask helps you and your mask helps me.

While masks are still controversial and even politically divisive, the CDC and the WHO have reiterated their importance in being the best prevention against COVID. Masks provide what’s called “source control” which helps prevent the spreading of respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing, and talking.  Masks are a critical part of a safe return-to-learn in-person plan.

My school is returning to in-person learning in a few weeks after a full quarter of virtual learning. We’re gearing up to teach all the safety protocols—sanitizing hands and surfaces, eating breakfast and lunch in the classroom, recess zones, traveling cohorts, and of course masks.

As important it is to teach mask-wearing, it is just as important to acknowledge (and then work around) the barriers masks pose. Since 70% of communication is nonverbal, where does that leave us with masks covering half our faces? It hides facial expressions, it muffles sound, it’s uncomfortable. Simply put, It impedes verbal and nonverbal communication. What do we do about this?

Well, we’re starting with practice.

This week, all our teachers are teaching their online classes about the importance of mask-wearing. They’ll be putting on masks during the online lesson. This will allow the students to get comfortable seeing their teachers and peers in masks since they’ve been literally face-to-face in online meetings for weeks. This also gives everyone a chance to talk about the problem of masks. It’s is as clear as the nose on your face—we can’t see your face!

Here are a few ways to rethink the challenges of mask-wearing at school:

Masks block your smile.

  • Smile bigger! How big does your smile need to be to reach your eyes? Crinkly eyes are friendly eyes!

Masks muffle your voice.

  • Talk louder and clearer. Enunciation is our friend!

Masks make your ears stick out.

  • It’s nice to meet another fan of elf culture.

Masks fog up your glasses.

  • Yeah, this one just sucks.

Masks are hot inside.

  • At least you don’t have to worry about bad breath.

Rather than seeing masks as a political statement or an endorsement of science vs. fear, I see masks as a symbol of human connection. Mask-wearing is a shared experience. Just like uniforms or school colors signify unity, masks represent that we’re all part of the same team—the same human family. We all breathe the same air and feel the same feelings. Masks don’t have to be a barrier. They are literally making us safer and allowing us to be closer than we have been in months. And that’s nothing to sneeze at.

 

My education career started in 2006 when I began volunteering in my children’s elementary school. During the time my kids were little, I attended college part-time, taught Art Masterpiece, and volunteered in their classrooms. I fell in love with education and knew I wanted to become a classroom teacher. I eventually graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree from Arizona State University and became a first-generation college graduate. I began teaching in 2013 and have worked in special and general education, in elementary schools and high school. I’ve taught everything from reading and math to English, social studies, and strategies. I became a National Board Certified Teacher in 2017. Knowing that my impact could be greater than a single classroom, I returned to ASU for my Master’s Degree in Education Leadership and graduated in 2018. I’m now an administrator in a rural school district and use every bit of my background to connect with kids, teachers, and families. A theme throughout my life has been “Always Improving.” In addition to full-time work as an administrator, I support teacher growth in my school district by leading professional development and serving on district committees, teaching Pre-Candidacy courses and coaching National Board candidates. I’m also a member of the Arizona K12 Center’s Teacher Solutions Team and blog for Stories From School Arizona. Additionally, I’ve presented professional development at the state and national level at the annual AZCEC/AZCASE Conference and at the National Co-Teach Conference. When I’m not working, writing, or reading, I enjoy bicycling with my husband, hanging out with my kids, bullet journaling, and roller skating.

Comments 2

  1. Rachel Perugini

    Coaching swimming in my mask means I’ve started signing a lot more. I usually talk with my hands a ton, but we’ve created a whole new language for swim. The kids know what I’m signaling and I save my voice a little bit.

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