Pregnant During a Global Pandemic: Mrs.Connors

Mrs.Connors+alongside+her+dog+Beverly%2C+who+lifted+Mrs.Connors+spirits+during+the+pandemic.+

Courtesy of Mrs.Connors

Mrs.Connors alongside her dog Beverly, who lifted Mrs.Connors spirits during the pandemic.

During these unprecedented times, AICE English Language teacher Mrs. Connors was presented with a monumental life event: having a baby boy. Having a child is a stressful time no doubt, but Mrs. Connors had to go through a large portion of her pregnancy through the pandemic. Due to the uncertainties of transmission of the COVID-19 virus from mother to fetus, Mrs. Connors took no risks when it came to quarantine.

“Quarantine meant quarantine for me and my husband. I could not see anybody, I didn’t even get to see my parents. I was overly cautious for the fear of the unknown,” says Connors.

Due to the pandemic, many hospitals restricted the number of people allowed inside the building. This was the case for Mrs. Connors when visiting the doctor for checkups on her baby.

“Doctors visits, this was our first baby, and my husband couldn’t come to any of them. It was all by myself. My husband didn’t get to see any of the ultrasounds or any of the exciting firsts,” says Connors.

To keep herself busy while pregnant, Mrs. Connors exercised (until they put her to bed rest) and went on frequent walks with her dog, Beverly.

“Thank God for Bev,” says Connors.

Delivery day for Mrs. Connors was unusual, as her husband was the only visitor allowed.

“Only my husband was allowed in, no other visitors were allowed. We both had to be masked the entire time. I had to take a rapid COVID-19 test. Thankfully I tested negative and was allowed in with my husband. As soon as he left the hospital, he was not allowed to return,” says Connors.

Patrick, Mrs. Connors’s baby boy, came a month early, which prompted her husband to leave the hospital early to set up the house for the newborn baby.

“I had him (Patrick) on an early Saturday morning at 3 A.M., that night my husband went home to set up for the baby. I was left alone with a brand new baby till Sunday at 5 P.M.  Typically when people have a baby, people come to visit and bring a balloon or flowers, there was none of that, just a nurse popping in and out to check on you and the baby and that was it. It was very strange and lonely for a time in your life that you share with loved ones,” says Connors.

Having a child is no doubt one of the happiest moments in a person’s life.

“It was so overwhelming. I was just crying the whole time,” says Connors.

Mrs. Connors was on maternity leave for a total of 11 school weeks. Being a very conversation-oriented teacher, Mrs. Connors had to adapt to the new virtual learning system. Coming back from maternity leave, Mrs. Connors was concerned about how she’d teach virtually.

“It was always nagging in the back of my mind;  Am I going to be able to figure it out? Am I going to be able to catch up? Can I make connections with my students who have now been dealing with different teachers for the entire school year? Can I make my virtual assignments engaging?” says Connors.

Being able to engage her students has been a challenge for Mrs. Connors since returning to teaching. With some having their cameras off, Mrs. Connors doesn’t even know what her students look like.

“Even if they have their cameras on, their mics are muted because they have to be. There is no conversation. It takes away any kind of natural socializing that we would ever have done. Cause they’re behaving, I can’t say ‘Hey, unmute and respond’ cause they’re doing what they’re supposed to do. It’s been hard,” says Connors.

Due to the lack of socializing, Mrs. Connors worries about whether she is being effective as a teacher this school year.

“I worry about how effective any of us are being as teachers this year. There is no back-and-forth conversation that naturally occurs in a classroom, and that back and forth conversation is where a lot of the learning happens. The student can make connections to what we learned that day. I don’t think that’s happening, first of all for the sheer number of distractions at home. How do you not want to watch TV or take a nap? I think that they are missing that large component, and I don’t know how we as teachers and educators fill in that gap, and I’m not sure if I’ve figured it out yet,” says Connors.

Mrs. Connors tries to do the best that she can to provide her students with the best education that she can provide with the given circumstances.

“You try to do what you can with the platform you’re using which is Google Meet. You have the chat feature if you don’t want to talk and want to type, but that still isn’t back and forth rapid conversation. You can put them in breakout rooms, but it’s not like putting them into groups in person where the teacher goes around and gets feedback, because most kids don’t participate in breakout rooms. So that’s been a big challenge this year. I haven’t given up, I just haven’t figured it out yet,” says Connors.

Coming back to school and leaving her baby behind was very tough for Mrs. Connors but she had many things she looked forward to upon her return.

“Leaving that little baby was really really hard, but I was really looking forward to having lunch with Ms. Pinto. Five other teachers covered my classes. That I was worried about completely, each one of my classes was taught at a different pace, with different explanations, so how one teacher may explain something wasn’t how another teacher would explain something. Everything was different. How am I going to follow up behind these great teachers? What if they had a real good connection with whoever was teaching them since August? And now I’m like, ‘Hey, I’m your teacher now.’ So all of that was just clouded by how much I didn’t want to leave my baby. But my classes were in good hands,” says Connors.

Bringing her classes up to speed and all at the same pace was the first goal for Mrs. Connors when teaching again.

“I just started from the beginning again. Some of the teachers didn’t get to cover certain things that others did. I decided that a review didn’t hurt for the ones who already did it and the ones who never did it need to know this,” says Connors.

Balancing a new home life and returning to the workplace can be difficult for most but Mrs. Connors has been doing alright with the two.

“I think I’m surviving. It’s been a challenge. Homelife, which is different than it was 6 months ago, work-life which is completely different than it was 6 months ago. Trying to connect with kids and finding joy in all of it has been a challenge, but I’m surviving and on the borderline of thriving.

After graduating from FAU, Connors had no plan of becoming a teacher when graduating in 2008. Mrs. Connors decided to become a teacher and describes the choice as “the best thing to happen to me”.

“I immediately felt at ease, and in the right career for me,” says Connors.

Teaching English is no easy task. For many Santaluces students, Mrs. Connors was the first English teacher they had the opportunity to learn from. A popular book to read as a freshman is “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Connors describes the timeless novel as “her favorite book of all time alongside the Harry Potter series.” Not only is the novel her favorite book of all time but co-teaching the novel alongside Mr. Witt, is one of Mrs. Connors’s favorite memories from teaching.

“Team teaching with Mrs. Connors (then Ms. Franco) is very likely the favorite teaching experience of my career. When it came up that she was teaching one of my favorite books (which is also one of her favorites), the idea that I might come over on a planning period and lend a hand was delightful.  The themes and characters resonate with us both.  And haling from Alabama, with an accent and cadence likely similar to many of the characters, guest reading was a no-brainer.  When it comes down to it, teaching your favorite book while engaging the characters you love and drawing on your own past is fun, but doing so alongside your BFF is even better. She is an exceptional teacher,” said, Mr.Witt

For Mrs. Connors, the best part of teaching is the students.

“It has always been the students. I have been lucky throughout my career to teach the BEST students. They are brilliant, funny, and hardworking. Sure, some can be challenging, but they make for good stories too. Every day is different because of them, and that keeps the job from being dull and bland,” says Connors.

Senior Gabriella Guidi had the chance to have Mrs. Connors as a teacher for 2 years and read To Kill A Mockingbird in her AICE General Paper Class.

“As a freshman, learning To Kill A Mockingbird with Mrs. Connors was a wonderful experience. When I would talk to students that previously read the book they would always say that it was boring, so when Mrs. Connors said that we would be reading the book I dreaded it. As we got into reading the book and she would explain the chapters and we would do class discussions, I knew that the people I talked to were wrong. She was able to teach us in such a fun and interesting way yet was still able to instill the knowledge and lessons from the book,” says Guidi. 

Outside of the classroom, Mrs. Connors enjoys spending time with friends and trying new foods and drinks (pre-pandemic). Connors also enjoys kayaking, hiking, reading, and binge-watching TV.

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