Day 1 of Apocalypse 2: Small Wins
I don’t like change. I suppose it’s because I’m somewhere on some special needs spectrum, which when I was at school was called the Lazy-Thick-Naughty Scale. So the 12 hour scramble to Remote Teaching notice knocked me sideways and not because I wasn’t ready. I was.
I had a new laptop. The old one stopped talking to School’s remote servers, and I didn’t blame it. Over Christmas, insted of working on the Work In Progress, I relearned such skills like voice over PowerPoint; video editing; Doodly. Things surrendered to The Autumn Term Of The Apocalypse – when we went back to normal teaching. I could do remote teaching -with constant monitoring the airwaves for questions, queries and emails – from the boat. Recording lessons to schedule when the internet was quiet enough to upload files and stuff. Catching a two hour nap before being at the ready for 8.30. I was in control.
Then came the scramble from our Vainglorious Education Secretary: Live! Live! Live!
That means the normal commute; learning how to use the virtual camera on the laptop. Its for gaming and streaming, not sitting in Teams with 30 virtual kids.
Thirty virtual kids who won’t need classroom management (or as I call it cat herding!).
Ooooh! There is a light at the end of this tunnel! And I can reclaim my classroom at the far end of the empire. A classroom cruelly snatched from me by Bubbles.
I’m in early. I have coffee.
Lesson 1 year 11. They know they’ll be teething problems. They’ve done this before. So have I. I set them some stuff for two lessons on Monday. They pop and say hi, via chat. There are few questions. It’s too early in the morning. You can tell.
Lesson 2. Beautiful class. Keen eager. They’re on-line before me, typing in the chat. Notifications of their excitement pinging my computer, with more regularity than an owl delivery of Harry Potter fame. It’s sweet. It’s amusing.
It’s starting to grate. “Stop using the chat, Year 7 and come into the room!”
“Yes, miss” – and all its permutations – are typed back at me.
And silence. The lobby is full.
I start the meeting. Put up the PowerPoint start talking.
Instead of one of them telling me they can’t hear me, twenty thousand pings berate me.
My brain default is shutdown. I call on thirty years of classroom experience. There’s none.
Panic. Shut down further. Stern talking to. The: you can do this! pep talk
… I can’t…. Hang on…
… I started teaching at the end of the chalkboard era. I have adaptability. I have… The Power Cut.
The memory of younger tech savvy colleagues crying at the sight of their suddenly dead computer, whilst I took out a pen, my sixth-formers took out their phones… until the Head of Department, now Principal, sent us home.
If I could do it then, I can do it now….
In front of me is a second computer. The vilified Oh-god-couldn’t-you-go-any-slower- you-neanderthal-model-with-the-sticky-keyboard.
I seize it joyfully. I upload the lesson, with the links to the video on you tube.
Go back to the never ending ping of notifications. Tell the kids what to do and tell them to come back in twenty minutes when they’ve watched the video.
The meeting room empties. I heave a…
“Do we comeback to the same meeting room?”
“Are we making notes?”
“Can I do a spider diagram?”
“Is it the PowerPoint in Files? And what’s it called?”
(There’s only one PowerPoint …deep breath)… “Yes! Lesson 1: Peasants Revolt!!
(Shuts eyes) “Look at the Tab at the top.”
“I can’t see the word document!!”
“That’s because it’s a PowerPoint!”
(Now I know its only your second lesson of the day, but for God’s sake Year Seven, read my replies!!!)
“Thanks, miss. Bye.”
“I cant get the link to work. What do I do?”
“It wants me to sign into YouTube.”
Back at the laptop, fingers resembling one of those frantic keyboard hitting computer memes, I type in YouTube downloader with one hand and try and tell Year Seven to stop using chat with the other.
Rookie error … i can’t type fast enough to counter the Piìiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing.
I’m turning into Joyce Grenfell. My celebrated cat herding skills have not prepared me for this.
Tears falling, I regroup. Grateful Mother taught me to touch type; remembering just before I push send that I’m in sensory overload. I look at the screen. One in five words bears a vague resemblance to the English language.
Swear. Delete. Start again.
Anglo Saxon words. More tears. “Come on you Why-the-hell-did-I-buy-you-you-pile-of…“
Good Laptop, shiny laptop. Almost as amazing as Oh-you-sweetheart-of-a-desktop-I-shall-treat-you-to-a-new-keyboard -because-you’ve-never-responded-so-quickly-even-if-it-has-taken-twenty-minutes.
I upload the downloaded Terry Jones video to Teams. Yeeeeees!
No! There’s ten minutes of the lesson left. It’s a twenty minute video.
“Start watching it now finish it for homework! ” I type.
“What about the poster?”
“Don’t worry about it. The video’s more important.”
Silence…. clock ticks. 5 mins. 4 mins 3..2..
“….Err Miss…?” Good kid. Always keen.
“I didn’t do the poster.”
Crumple. What hope is there if he’s having issues. “Why not? You’re a fabulous artist?”
Pause. Has he gone? No. He’s back. I read his comment. I cry.
“That video was good. So I watched it a second time, is that alright?”