We are going on five months in this pandemic and still I don’t have this social distancing thing down. One would think after a certain amount of time practicing, with continual non-verbal cues from my better half, and red reminder signs strategically placed on store floors, this new expectation would sink in. But no. No, apparently, it has not.
Yesterday, my wife and I spent a good deal of the day at IKEA shopping for office furniture, where I kept finding myself in various lines – not adhering to social distancing protocol. I wasn’t doing it purposefully. I just naturally gravitated towards the group. However, from what I could see, I wasn’t alone. Everyone seemed to be “clumping.” I believe it is because social distancing is not natural. Period.
Humans are social creatures. We need others for survival, and our need to belong only strengthens our desire to connect. So, when we are called on to be socially distant and limit our physical contact with others, it goes against our basic instincts. [Incidentally, animals have this same “pack” mentality, as evidenced by our pets who appear to be exponentially happier having us around 24-7.]
Fortunately for all of us – in some form or fashion – school will soon resume. And since the way we meet our social needs is through developing and nurturing relationships, this is a really good thing.
So, teachers, though we are all frustrated with the social distancing we will have to keep once school resumes, know that every day you see your students’ faces – be it virtually or through a protective mask – and have positive exchanges, you are building relationships. And I believe that after a summer of being cooped up and isolated, these relationships will be more important to your students than anything else slated in your lesson plans for the entire school year.