Today felt surreal but profoundly joyful. Penn State lifted their masking requirement in classrooms. For the first time in 2 years, I taught without a mask and could see my students’ beautiful faces. And they could see mine. The difference is hard to describe in words. We were fully present, seeing one another, and engaging with our full face in this authentic and delightful way. We heard each other more clearly as well.
My energy for teaching returned. Their energy for learning kicked in in fresh ways. We laughed. We listened to music. We celebrated with scones. The discussion flourished.
I think that teaching in a mask required more energy than I realized. I think my brain was trying to interpret so many things and worked too hard to evaluate a student’s emotions or responses to my teaching without enough data. When you see the whole face, you know immediately how a student is feeling and whether they are tracking with your lesson. For the first time in two years, I didn’t feel tired leaving class.
Today is a new day! (While some students chose to remain in masks, everyone was respectful and kind to one another.)