06:30 AM – I awake to a gentle alarm, and pull on my running kit. The weekend sun has faded, but the roads are gloriously empty. A small silver lining of this current situation is the half an hour later alarm and a pre-breakfast outing.
07:15 AM – A quick shower and then on to breakfast whilst checking for comments on JUNO. Our OWL question for the week was ‘What will you no longer take for granted once lockdown is over?’. Lots of replies mention being able to hug grandparents – I’m sure the children aren’t the only ones looking forward to that.
07:30 AM – I head to the “classroom” (the spare bedroom, with a desk in the corner), and get myself set up for the day. Blue-light filtering glasses (the iPad and laptop screen are leaving me feeling shell-shocked otherwise), my notebook with positive messages and reminders for morning registration and a whole cafetière of very strong coffee.
09:00 AM : 3E join me for Form Time on Zoom. Three weeks in, seeing their smiling faces on a screen rather than in my classroom is still a surreal experience. I notice that one child, Miles, has dressed up for the occasion and is sporting a shirt, jacket and bow tie. This brings a smile to all of our faces.
9:14AM : Before we begin our Maths lesson, I notice that another member of the class, Louis, has been holding a letter so I ask him what it is. He explains that his elderly neighbour has been isolating alone so, yesterday, he delivered some brownies to the doorstep. I have to hold back the tears as he reads the thank you letter from Nick, his neighbour, explaining just how much this meant to him.
09:15 AM : We begin the day with Maths and I am struck by just how normal this all seems. Children raise their hands to answer questions, ask for help when they need it and let me know when they are ready to move on to extension work. It’s just like being as school until someone asks if they can introduce their pet hamster to the class after the lesson.
10:00 AM : Break time for the children and for me. I realise my coffee hasn’t been touched and is now stone cold. Iced coffee it is!
10:30 AM: Whilst my class have Science, I speak to the other Heads of Year and we share ideas for year group assemblies. We decide to take the brave step of making them ‘live’ rather than pre-recorded. 110 children on one Zoom call. Wish us luck…
11: 35AM: I re-join 3E for English and, much to their delight, we continue with our Harry Potter themed creative writing topic. This unit, created during lockdown by Mr Sands, has truly bewitched them (pun very much intended). Today, they are writing character descriptions which they will submit to be marked on Microsoft Teams.
12:30PM: Mr Evered (who teaches at a prep school in SW London) and I sit down for a quick lunch and compare our mornings. He has spent his explaining to children how to conjugate the verb avoir via e-mail and hasn’t seen their faces since March. I suddenly feel even more grateful for the 22 smiling faces which greet me every morning.
1:00PM: I open Teams and am delighted to see that 20 children have submitted their character descriptions to be marked. I spend the next hour being entertained by their fantastic writing and, by the time I’ve finished, some children have even edited their work in response to my comments. The children are working remarkably hard to manage this strange, new (and hopefully short-term) landscape. I try to imagine how I’d have coped as a 7 year old and know it wouldn’t have been easy.
2:30PM: The rest of my afternoon is a mixture of e-mailing, Zoom meetings with the Year 3 team and English planning. Normally, our advertising unit involves the children working in groups to plan, script and perform persuasive TV adverts. Not an option during isolation so I decide to start from scratch and come up with something new. I was told on my PGCE that you should never spend longer planning a lesson than it takes to teach it. I tell myself that, like many things, this rule doesn’t apply to quarantine!
7:00 PM : Mr Evered reminds me that we have a video call with my new-born niece Josie (a lock-down baby).
7:30 PM : I manage to resist the urge to drive to Oxford and meet her in person and instead sit down for dinner, a glass of wine and a trip to the ‘theatre’. Despite it being the third time I’ve seen it, Fleabag live manages to keep me awake even though it feels more like midnight than 7:30.
9:30 PM : After marking the last 2 character descriptions (hooray – 22 out of 22!), I admit defeat and head to bed. Whilst I wish I could be heading to Highgate to see my pupils and colleagues in person tomorrow, I feel a sense of pride in what we have achieved and decide that maybe home learning isn’t as bad as I first thought it would be. I might even miss that ‘mute all’ button once we’re back in the classroom…
Felicity Evered has worked at Highgate since she moved to London from Nottingham in 2014. Currently, she is Head of Year 3 and leads the Junior School Common Room Committee. Besides teaching, she enjoys board games, making excuses not to go on runs and eating copious amounts of cheese.