New Year 2020 BCE (and here I don’t mean Before Common Era; I mean Before Covid Existed!), life was NORMAL.
Full of enthusiasm for the final push towards GCSE revision for our Year 11 students and the usual creative interpretation of the curriculum for all other students, I divided my day between the Calne and RWB branches of Launch2learning. Never suspecting that the routine interaction with students and fellow tutors, setting and marking of work, a quick dash to Sainsbury’s at lunch for a bite to eat and the habitual moaning about the coffee cups left in the sink was all about to end with LOCKDOWN.
On March 23rd 2020, Boris Johnson closed down life as we knew it and things changed overnight…..
Luckily our very forward-thinking team behind the scenes had made excellent provision for this event. We were all issued with a Zoom password and access to a previously unknown teaching tool. I confess that I.T. is NOT my strength so I approached the idea of teaching via the internet with trepidation. The students adapted much more easily, quickly finding ways to add emojis and annotations to the screen and realising that a ‘dodgy’ internet could bring a lesson to an abrupt halt!
Of course I miss the face to face contact with the students: days of staring at a black screen hoping for a rustle of paper or a sigh to let me know that I’m not just sat in my office talking to myself or wondering if I have half the household listening to my every word is not an ideal teaching environment, but I’ve been glad to be part of a small element of continuity in their lives.
Lockdown has meant that my planning has to be even more organised than it was before. Our wonderful admin team act as the go between, forwarding poems, extracts and whole exam papers for the students to print out beforehand. (This DOES make analysing a text so much easier.)
I’ve discovered imaginative ways of teaching without being able to read body language – who knew how much I relied on that? And of course there have been hilarious Zoom moments when a family pet has decided to join the lesson by standing right in front of camera displaying certain body parts! I’ve also got to meet other members of the family who just want to see a different face and several new puppies, which normally I would never see. My bonus time (without having to travel 90 mins to work and back) has enabled me to research different exam boards and texts, which I’ve really enjoyed. It’s been good to share experiences too with students, their families and other tutors, as we’re all in this together.
When ‘normal’ life ‘rezooms’, will I continue to wave to students and tutors as I leave a lesson? I think I probably will…….
Claire Jones, Tutor at Launch2Learning, July 2020