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Together Alone: Perspectives From a School During Lockdown

By now at our school, we are well underway with a most effective online teaching programme and we have all become thoroughly proficient at Meet, Zoom and Teams. In many ways we are together and in some ways we are alone.

Rolls Royce employee Ben Todd said recently of online meetings, “I’m enjoying hearing the background sounds – and sometimes foreground – of babies, kids, tv and dogs. It’s a useful reminder we’re all human, something which can get lost in a business context.”

At HeronBridge we recently held an online staff meeting and the challenge was sent out for various teachers to include certain sentences in the middle of their comments to the full staff. Amongst others I had to find a way of fitting-in “Auld Lang Syne”, Philip Venter had to include “hairy bush-pig”, Tiaan Lotter had to find a way to say, “please buy your own data” and Michael Clack “an ark only sinks when the water gets inside it.”

Not so easy, but in this way the coldness of a meeting conducted over wi-fi and cables, where no one can bump shoulders with another, humanity was created through the humour and the fact that many of us were listening for those pre-set challenges to be met.

And it is more than this too…

To see a baby on a colleague’s knee, to hear a dog bark in the background, to see someone at home in their lounge, on their patio or on an upstairs verandah with a view of the fields reflected in the glass sliding-doors behind is like a civvies’ day for our pupils, where we as teachers can see the individuality in the personal clothing choices. It allows us, in all this confinement, to be ourselves.

Much has been said and written about the need to connect with each other on a personal level during these isolating times and I don’t want to repeat the obvious by just saying it again.

But I will say this, while I am missing my colleagues and I am sure we will all relish a return to normality, I am enjoying the civvies’ days of seeing my colleagues at home and I think this window into each of our personal lives will only serve to connect us more when this is all a history book entry.

Simon Crane
Deputy Headmaster
HeronBridge College

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