another (school) year done and dusted
on celebrating small and large victories teaching in a pandemic
June 19th 2021
And just like that… the 2020-2021 school year is over! More on that later because… First thing’s first….
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Coming this week, a twist on a favourite French after school snack!
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Here we are in June again, still in the midst of a pandemic. I know many of you reading this missive have not been affected by the pandemic as much as we have or you are back to a somewhat normal life (here, restaurant patios and non-essential businesses just reopened after months closed, other small businesses like personal care are still closed) the next little bit might not be super relatable. Many of you might have Covid fatigue (hello, it me!) so you might not be interested in the next few paragraphs either. Guess what? There’s more interesting stuff further down…. Just scroll for delicious, interesting links! Next month, I’ll have this out of my system (fingers and toes crossed!).
It’s been… “a year”. A year like no other. An unprecedented year. A year of new normals. A year of new clichés ;) A year I hope we’ll never have to go through again (or at least if we do, that we’ll have lessons learned that we can put to good use).
The school year started out on a hopeful note. In-person learning resumed (we were online from March to June 2020) although it looked very different. My school kept us safe this year and I’m so grateful for that, but “school” was like nothing you’ve ever seen or imagined.
Teaching in a pandemic looks… different.
In my school we had small cohorts (of teachers and students) meaning that I was only allowed in a couple of rooms in the school (see: my “office” above, a converted waiting room in the admin building), only saw a couple of teachers in person inside and only taught 2 of my 4 classes in their classrooms (the others were on Google Meet with me in a different building). Other colleagues, I might see outside while on recess duty or crossing paths to the designated bathrooms (also strict cohorting about who could use which washroom). When the weather was nice, I took my students outside because at the start of the year we didn’t have to wear masks outside and, for a French teacher, being able to see my students’ faces (and them mine) is kind of important, you know. As the weather turned colder, we moved back inside where I taught my younger students in person, masked and distanced. In some classes some students were 8 metres away from me in a dining-hall-turned-classroom which, for Covid protocols, is amazing but for teaching makes it a bit of a challenge.
In-person > Distance learning > In-person > Distance learning = how many times can you pivot?
We made it through December with classes in-person but with case numbers in the province soaring, didn’t go back to in-person school after the winter break until the middle of February (though case numbers were still high and the rest of the province was under a stay-at-home order). Masks were now worn outside. March Break was moved to April (because, even with case numbers very high, it was “safer” to keep kids in school). We made it to Easter in person - the last time I taught my students in school was on April 1st before the long weekend.
At 8.30pm on Easter Monday, we got word that our school would be online that week until April break. Public school boards followed a couple of days later. Little did we know we wouldn’t go back to in-person learning this school year.
Online school is NOT the ideal way of teaching or learning for most people. Some kids and teachers thrived. Most found this time challenging. For the past 3 months, I’ve tried to celebrate small academic victories (everyone showed up! everyone’s camera was on! I heard every voice in my class today! everyone handed in their homework on time!) as well as personal ones (that child who was feeling down last week shared a story and smiled today!) and I have had AMAZING experiences teaching cooking online (easiest pivot ever!) but as I closed my laptop on the last Google Meet of the year this week, I won’t lie. I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Let’s hope we never have to do that again…
Along the way, sometime in about January, the possibility of vaccines became real. From hearing that it would be a couple of years for a vaccine to be developed to having them available in a few months… well that felt hopeful for the first time in a long time. I’ve shared before, what a mess the vaccine rollout in Canada (particularly in Ontario) has been and I will spare you that again but suffice to say that when a volunteer group on social media (Vaccine Hunters Canada) becomes the place to get your reliable information and how to get vaccinated, there’s something a little bit wrong. We LOVE VHC, though and are so grateful for all their work. As an aside, I was so obsessed with getting vax info that I followed them when they had something like 100 followers. Now they have nearly 300k.
Neil and I are, as of Monday, double-vaxxed and hopeful we will get to France this summer after all (Canada has just been placed on France’s “green” list meaning that fully vaccinated travellers are allowed in with no restrictions). Fingers and toes crossed. We are aware that things can (and most likely will) change. So we wait and watch (and I get to spend July working a project I’m finishing up and picking up the mess that is my house after working from home for the majority of the past 6 months!). So, onto more exciting things…
upcoming online classes!
I’m working on a handful of kids’ classes for the summer but they’re not quite ready to launch yet. I will post an update as soon as they are live but in the meantime, check out my all-ages classes in June, July and August!
Choux Pastry: Profiteroles and Éclairs for Context Learning, Sunday June 27th 1pm – 2.30pm EDT. Click HERE for details.
L'heure de l'apéro: Classic French Cocktail Snacks Part 2 for Context Learning, Sunday July 11th 3pm – 4.30pm EDT. Click HERE for details.
*For the Context Learning classes, enter the discount code MMICHELS20 for 20% off (new customers only)
Menu du Jour (three course menu), Sunday July 18th 11.30am - 1.30pm EDT. Click HERE for details!
Menu du Jour (three course menu), Sunday August 22nd 18th 11.30am - 1.30pm EDT. Click HERE for details!
**For the Menu du Jour classes, enter the discount code NEWSLETTERSUBSCRIBER for 10% off!
Know someone who might be interested in taking a class with me?
you might have missed…
These recent recipes on my blog have already been made and shared by readers a bunch of times!
Top right: Carrot Cake Cookies (gluten-free)
Bottom left: Banana Pineapple and Coconut Bread (gluten-free)
Bottom right: Creamy Coconut Curry with Vegetables and Tofu
Did you make any of these? Let me know!
summer reads is back!
Every Monday in June, July and August, I share a book review that I consider to be a “Summer Read” (you can read previous years’ posts here).The first two books for this year’s lineup are Anthony Bourdain and Laurie Woolever’s “World Travel” and Krystal Kenney’s “Paris, a life less ordinary (a memoir)”.
What are YOU reading this summer? Do you have any recommendations?
links I love
10 Kitchen Gadgets You Don’t Really Need via The Guardian. Come on - be honest… how many of these do you own? Me? Just one. My garlic press. I use it so often that many of my students in online classes over the past year have asked their parents to get one!
Why Food in Britain is So Much Better Than in France via The Spectator. Whoah. Now THERE’S a conversation starter! Do you agree that “Britain is the land of foodie innovation” and that “the decline of French cuisine has tracked the descent of the country itself?” You might need a coffee (or something stronger) to think about this!
Bryan Ford is About to Make You Think Twice Before Eating a Croissant via Huff Post. A fascinating article asking an important question: “How can we get [bakeries] to make the bread that represents the world?” (Literal) food for thought.
‘A Love Affair with Le Creuset’: How a Staple of the French Kitchen Turned into a Global Hit via Fortune. Do you own a few Le Creuset pieces? Did you buy any during the pandemic? Apparently their sales soared over the past 16 months!
The artist Ai Weiwei is inspired by the resilience and self contentment of his beloved cats via The New York Times Magazine (possible paywall). What could be more lovely than a superstar of the art world waxing lyrical about cats (bonus video content!). Cats “teach you that you can have a happy life without knowing anything at all. They take care of themselves, and they make their own fun. To be an individual, to be self-content — those are nice qualities for a life.”
Ready to Host a Gathering Again? These Tips Will Ease You In via Food 52. Excited to start hosting again but realize you’ve forgotten how? Here are some tip to help get back in the swing of things… Bust out those linen napkins and get planning!
Fermenting Philip Glass: Rene Redzepi on Music and Cooking via The New York Times. Redzepi on engaging all the senses. “I think our senses are the biggest gift we have, and we use them poorly. We don’t eat well, we don’t listen well, we don’t see well. “
We Don’t Know How to Get Dressed Anymore via The Washington Post. Getting ready to re-enter normal life? Got questions about what to wear? Unprecedented times make for unprecedented questions.
The Ghost Subway Station in Paris Where Films Come to Life via Atlas Obscura. If you can’t get to Paris this year, travel virtually through these films and learn about the metro station that probably features in them!
Photographers, Instagrammers - Stop Being So Damn Selfish and Disrespectful via Paul Reiffer. I knew that Insta-tourism had become “a thing” in recent times but whoah, this is crazy talk!
Five of Anthony Bourdain’s Favourite Food Destinations via The Guardian. Miss seeing the world through Bourdain’s lens? This is a great reminder of his outlook.
Writing the Senses: Taste via Catapult. One of Hannah Howard’s five part series exploring the five senses is some masterful writing.
what we’ve been watching
Mare of Easttown. When we first started watching, I wondered how they would make it last 7 episodes. Well, this kept us on our toes, and them some. Loved it (though I don’t know I’d ever want to visit “Easttown”. Seems a bit grim…)
The Upside A remake of Les Intouchables. An older feel-good movie because we all need that right now.
Lupin Partie 2. Watched this in 2 sittings. Now, where’s Partie 3? If you haven’t watched this yet, run, don’t walk!
Profile “An undercover British journalist infiltrates the online propaganda channels of the so-called Islamic State, only to be sucked in by her recruiter.” This was… disturbing. And hard to watch - literally, the entire movie takes place on a computer screen - through fictional social media posts and the Internet. It’s a lot.
The Handmaid’s Tale. Ok I know I said a couple of newsletters ago that I thought it was a slow start. I LOVE this show but it felt a bit disjointed to me this season (maybe this is the point?). But the finale? Just … wow.
buy my book!
“One of the best ways to have fun and bond with young people is to cook with them as partners. Kids are inherently creative; the smell and taste of the dishes produced will stay with them permanently. In the French Kitchen with Kids, a thorough, well-organized, approachable and friendly cookbook, will take your child on a delectable culinary voyage leading to a lifetime of lasting memories.”
– Jacques Pépin
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Thanks for reading! Stay safe!