Eight weeks of school closures means eight Mondays where I have emailed my form to find out how they are doing, as per my duty of care. Despite them receiving this weekly email with clear instructions that they must reply, unfortunately the response rate isn’t always great.
Some students will happily answer my questions and offer insights into what they have been up to, including one boy who said that in the half-term he had made a water slide into his pool, which I was especially jealous of. Others, I will either not hear from or get a very short reply, like the charming one last week which said “Yes, everything is fine. You don’t have to keep emailing me stop.”. To that last one, I replied that I was glad he still had his sense of humour and reassured him I would continue to email each week and looked forward to hearing from him next Monday.
Since the school closed, my interactions with students have mainly been limited to these email exchanges and answering questions related to the work on Google Classroom. The ‘real life’ interactions have only been with the ~15 vulnerable and key worker kids I have supervised when I have been in school. Although, I did bump into two students earlier on today within the space of a few minutes when I had ventured outside for a walk. One of these students was a girl in my form who it was nice to see; luckily although she had been with her Mum at the time, she was far enough away to smile and acknowledge me but respectfully let her daughter talk to me about school for a few minutes without bombarding me with questions and queries like a spontaneous parents evening- a worry I always have if I see students with their parents out of the natural and safe habitat of the school.
From next week, our school will be starting to run online ‘keeping in touch’ video calls with small groups of students, as another way for us to check in with them and see how they are doing. Although these are optional (for both the staff and students), fortunately there has been a lot of interest with kids keen to take part in this, so I look forward to seeing how they go.
Meanwhile, we are all preparing for the return of some (exact number to be confirmed) Year 10 students from 15th June. As I will be part of the team working with these students, it means I will no longer be on the rota to supervise the key worker kids, a group who in my mind I have likened to the group in The Breakfast Club. Albeit a very tame version of this group, as there has been no smoking (as far as I’m aware), this is a resemblance I see because of the different year groups and personalities that have been brought together into one room where they wouldn’t normally be together, as well as the fact that they have basically had free roam of an empty school for the past few weeks.
Although the few times I have been with them it has been relatively uneventful, I will miss the silence of them working (or not working… hard to tell when they are all on their laptops) only being interrupted by things such as:
- The comically squeaky shoes of a Year 7 whenever he got up to leave the hall we were all sat in.
- The intense slurping of a Year 8 drinking his orange juice through his mega-straw he had constructed from four straws joined together, which he assured me was to help him slow down drinking as his Mum always told him he drank too quickly.
- The loud music coming from a Year 8’s headphones, so loud she didn’t hear me shout her name and I had to come right up to her (2 m away of course) to ask her to turn it down or she may actually damage her hearing.
- This question from a Year 9: “You know this coronavirus yeah… will people in like 20 years time be learning about this, like The Purge?” (We established after this that he actually meant the plague… The Purge is thankfully not on the curriculum.)
As nice as working from home can be at times (the lie-in, the long lunch break, my bed never far away…), I am really looking forward to getting back to some short bursts of real life, socially distanced teaching soon. Whether Year 10 appreciates this time with their teachers or not, at the very least I will get some fresh blog inspiration.