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Mr Humphries' Isolation Diaries

It's 8:27 on Friday 27th March. Usually I’d be weighing up whether my bladder can handle a third cup of tea before three teaching periods on the spin. Inevitably I’d gamble and pay the price*.


Instead, I’m in my dressing gown and slippers with my fifth cup of tea safe in the knowledge that I can use the facilities with abandon all day long. When Mr Cloves asked me to write something about the challenges of distance learning, I’m not sure he had envisaged an article opening with changing toilet habits. Thank you for sticking with this; you’re in for a treat.


It has been a peculiar week. I woke up on Monday morning and logged on to Show My Homework and was fizzing with excitement to see which of my colony of eager beavers had accessed the invigorating tasks I’d set for them. I was sorely disappointed. It seems my five AM alarm was set in vain. None of the lazy layabouts had been online! I took out my frustration on two buttery crumpets and waited...


Slowly but surely, the students sprang to life and entered the brave new world of distance learning. The number of children accessing the work ticked up steadily through the day and, five days on, it seems that the tasks set are being accessed and completed (in between the odd game of Fortnite and Fifa). It is genuinely really heartening to see the thirst for learning our pupils still seek to quench in these trying times, which I think is testament to the school community and its blend of academia and togetherness.


However, as much as ‘teaching’ in my slippers has its perks, I miss the classroom. I used to be a primary school teacher and when I changed to secondary teaching, there was a lot I did not miss: tying shoelaces hundreds of times a day, the constant threat of a code brown and forever finding glitter on my face (now strictly weekends only). But I did long for the looks on their faces when something ‘clicks’, the sound of their minds racing with ideas and questions, and best of all, the gusto with which they actually laughed at my jokes. When I arrived at Sutton Grammar, I realised our pupils wouldn’t always be quite as obviously expressive in their response to learning and lols and I had to quickly acclimatise to a meagre diet of begrudging nods, knowing looks and eye rolls. As Shakespeare once said, you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone…


So at the end of week one, my advice is stay in touch with one another and us too. We might not always know it, show it or admit it, but I think, by and large, we, the staff, on the whole, sometimes, mostly, if the sun is shining, might consider the fact, that, there’s a chance, that we, ever so mildly, like some of, I mean all of you, to varying extents.


There, I’ve said it. But be clear Year 7! The rules about messaging us about whether you need to underline dates, start a new page or use a pen or pencil are still very much in place! Phew, feel better now I’ve been stern again. Order is restored.


Lastly, some recommendations for the small amount of down time you should be enduring. As an English teacher, I simply have to mention Bananagrams - it’s like Scrabble on a jumbo bag of Haribo and 3 litres of Sunny D and a great test of your vocabularic knowledge and agility. And then, with many links to the various Science curriculums, I am becoming addicted to Exploding Kittens. Me-ouch!


Keep Faith.


Mr Humphries


*the price being dashing through the hall in between classes to visit the loo...not what you might have been hoping/dreading!


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