I spent the first years of my life out of college — 1998 to 2005 — teaching at two Catholic schools: the now-closed St. Anthony High School, Jersey City, and Oratory Preparatory School, Summit. They were great years I recall fondly.
But in thinking back to those years, of late, I’ve wondered — could I have done it all remotely, as so many teachers are now? I’m still debating that notion, but it reminded me of the days when we had dress-down days, or tag days, when the schools’ uniforms were dropped for a fee that went to charity in lieu of wearing regular clothing — just for a day.
Something always happened, without exception, on those days — the kids were off the wall. They were hyper. It was as if every kid downed a gallon of coffee or Redbull before they walked into the building.
Ask any current or former Catholic school teacher what tag days are like.
For whatever the reason, getting to not wear a tie, a sport-coat, dress shoes, brought about a harmless yet pure silliness across the board.
So what happens when teachers must do their thing remotely, with 20-some-odd kids on a computer screen? I cannot even imagine it.
My good friend John recently told me his wife, a public-school teacher, hates extremely hot weather without air-conditioning — but she’d prefer to be in a 95º classroom teaching in person rather than doing all of this at a computer screen. I sense this kind of belief is pretty common these days.
Now I completely get the need for virtual learning. If I had kids, there isn’t a chance I’d send them to in-person learning until a vaccine for COVID-19 was well-tested and widely available around the globe.
But I give thanks I am no longer a teacher — and my respect for those who do teach is now at a level beyond imagination. Good luck, teachers, in the 2020-21 academic year. I’m thinking you’re going to need it. — Kevin Canessa
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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.