Diary of a secondary teacher in lockdown

Today is my first day of remote teaching during Melbourne lockdown 5.0 because I don’t work Fridays, so I missed the first day last week.

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Monday 19th July

8.30am

Today is my first day of remote teaching during Melbourne lockdown 5.0 because I don’t work Fridays, so I missed the first day last week. I am very thankful that my own children are only two and four, so they can still attend childcare while hubby and I both work from home.

Main job for the day: create a test for year 9 Maths.

Today I am wearing a nice, work-appropriate knitted jumper with my old trackies and slippers- this is my favourite thing about remote teaching.

9am

First class for the day is year 9 Maths. None of my students have their cameras on. Of course.

I share my screen so the class can see the slideshow I made. “Can you see this?”

Silence.

I start talking to the void. “Hello? Can you hear me?… Can you see the slideshow?… Is anyone there?”

Crickets. 

Finally, a student puts on her microphone. “Yes, Miss”. Yay! We are now in business.

11.45am

First free period for the day and I see an email from the principal that the lockdown will be extended but they’re not sure for how long. Forget writing the Maths test. I now need to go through all my Wednesday and Thursday lessons to ensure they are remote learning appropriate, as they are still planned out for in-person class.

Tuesday 20th July

8.45am

Homeroom with year 11s and, when looking at my roll, I realise that one student was away on Friday, Monday and now again on Tuesday. Another teacher takes my Friday homeroom so I didn’t realise immediately that this student was absent at the end of last week. I check her class history and can see she has been absent for every class since remote learning started. I will need to call home later to check in.

12.30pm 

Lunchtime.

Hubby and I have both been staring at our screens all day and we need to take a break, so we go out for a 20 minute walk together. Yesterday I said wearing trackies to work was the best. Forget that. Having this childfree walk together in the middle of the day is my favourite thing about remote teaching.

After the walk, I put my mobile on private and call the mum of that missing year 11 student. No answer, I can’t leave a voicemail and there are no other phone numbers listed for this student. 

I open up my emails and send a quick message to the mum. Then I see several new emails in my inbox, including two particularly important ones: The learning support evidence I need to put together for a couple of my year 7 students is due tomorrow, and some mandatory online PD modules are due by Friday. I did know about them, but with everything going on, I forgot. So thankful that I got these reminders.

Ok, the Maths test will need to wait. Again.

Wednesday 21st July

10.30am

I haven’t heard back from the mum of the missing year 11 student yet, and she wasn’t in our morning homeroom roll call today. I’m starting to get worried because I know she is an ‘at risk’ student.

I call the school and ask if an office staff member can call on my behalf. Perhaps the mum won’t answer the call if my phone is on private, but I really don’t want to call otherwise. I had an incident last year when I called a parent from my mobile, and he saved my number to call me randomly about concerns with his child. Calling from school is much easier.

1.30pm

My year 8 Humanities class is a disaster! 

The task for the lesson is to highlight the different parts of a sample essay, so they know how to structure theirs. I don’t know if it is my instructions or if the task sheet isn’t clear, but no one seems to understand.

Normally I would project the essay on the whiteboard and we would highlight it together and the class would write all over the board. I obviously haven’t planned this right.

I suddenly stop the lesson and move onto some Kahoots. All hail Kahoot! I have several quizzes ready for each subject in case of an emergency. This is one of those emergencies.

I’ll need to plan out tomorrow’s lesson again.

3pm

The office staff haven’t been able to get a hold of the year 11 student. Ok, now I am really worried. She hasn’t attended any class for remote learning.

I quickly shoot through an email to the year 11 coordinator about it before logging into the whole staff meeting.

Thursday 22nd July

9am

Our two-year-old was sick overnight and we think he has gastro, so we keep him and the four-year-old home. Our daughter isn’t sick, but we wanted to be safe. Hubby has cancelled meetings for the day to look after with the kids.

Period one this morning is with year 10s. The little one is obviously having a nappy change because the four-year-old bursts into the study to describe the giant poo… While I’m trying to speak to my class.

“But it’s so huge, mum. Come see it!”

Comments start pouring down the chat thread of my online class. Thanks, mate.

11am

Hubby is really great with the kids, but they only want me when they are sick. I finally open the office door because my two-year-old is on the other side screaming for me while I’m trying to teach double year 7.

I finish teaching my year 7s while cuddling my son. 

I end my online class early for the year 7s to finish the double working on their own on the assigned work. I look down to see my son has fallen asleep in my arms and savour the moment.

12.30pm

Third cup of coffee for the day. The hardest thing about being a teacher and a parent is being ‘on’ for my classes after having a difficult, sleepless night with a sick child.

2.15pm

My last class for the day is year 8 Humanities again.

Last night I planned out the lesson again. I changed yesterday’s task into a highly scaffolded slideshow, where each slide highlights a new part of the essay.

Success! They understand my new instructions and they are ready to do it on their own. I’m so thrilled that the lesson worked out really well.

However, that happiness is short lived because I realise I haven’t heard from the year 11 coordinator about the missing student all day.

Friday 23rd July

12pm

My two-year-old is asleep so I put the television on for my four-year-old and get some work done. I do this most Fridays to minimise work on the weekend.

I see an email from the year 11 coordinator. She managed to get in contact with that student who has been missing and she is ok. The coordinator will fill me in on more details on Monday. What a relief!

I let out a big sigh of relief and set about finally finishing my mandatory, online, professional development modules. If I get them done early enough, I might be able to start writing that Maths test.

5pm

I’m exhausted after a busy day playing with my children. I don’t have the energy to get the test done tonight. That was the one task I needed to complete this week. I’ll have to work on it over the weekend.

by Catherine Mancini

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