monique polak

Monique Polak's Books

3 minutes reading time (607 words)

Writing -- and Teaching -- During a Pandemic

Hello out there, Wide World! Who could ever have imagined we'd find ourselves INSIDE THE STRANGEST BOOK WE EVER READ?

Usually, I write blog posts when I do a school visit, or after I interview someone inspiring. But today, I'm reporting in from the world of self-isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic. One thing I know for sure is that when all this is over, are we ever going to have a lot of stories to tell!

First, because I work with young readers, I really want to say how grateful I am to all the kids out there. By staying home, by maintaining social distance, you are protecting the rest of us. And that's pretty amazing. Thank you.

In-school classes ended in mid-March across Quebec, so that means I have been transforming myself into a "remote" teacher. That's been a lot more work than any of us could have imagined. And of course, we weren't prepared for the transition. On the positive side, we teachers have been adapting pretty well. I've been posting youtube lessons for my students, and reading their responses to study questions on-line. The biggest surprise for me is that I usually HATE correcting essays -- but now I've actually begun to appreciate it (if not quite LIKE it). That's a big change after 33 years of teaching. I think it's because, for the first time, correcting feels like a conversation. And for the first time, I have the sense that my students are actually reading my comments -- not just hurrying to the last page to check their marks!

As for the writing life... well... let's just say... it's wonderful. All of us writers out there (and that includes you, dear blog reader because we're all writers with stories to tell), we finally have TIME TO WRITE. Some of my writer friends say they've been finding it hard to feel calm and centered enough to focus, but what I find is that writing calms and centers me. So if you're feeling jumpy, maybe you should write it out... and see if after you've written about feeling jumpy or anxious or sad or worried... well, it leads you to a story.

If you ask me, stories will never be the same after this pandemic. That's because we're all deeply affected by what we are experiencing, and will experience. All of that will find its way into every story that we will ever write in the future.

Happily for me, I've been asked to do lots of on-line book-related activities. Yesterday, I took part in Blue Met's Cosy Reading Hour. It's a program in which Quebec children's writers are reading live every morning through April 20... visit Blue Metropolis's official Facebook page to learn more about this fun program. I've also posted one of my first youtube "lessons" -- it's what I like to call in the real classroom "a special treat." (I do believe in special treats on a regular basis.) It's me reading from the beginning of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland -- my favourite book of all time, and the one I'm teaching to my Stuff of Nonsense classes at Marianopolis.

I miss the "real" world like crazy. I miss my real students. I miss rushing to class. I miss saying at the end of what felt like a great class, "Okay, get outta here!" But I feel super privileged to be able to continue to connect through words -- and of course with the help of technology -- with the people I love, and that includes my students and readers. Stay safe all of you, and keep reading and writing!

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Monday, 15 April 2024

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