Hello! Can you hear me?
Teaching online during the Covid-19 Pandemic of 2019/2020
by Clare Blanchard, Professeure d’anglais au CCFB,
“OK everyone, that’s everything for today. I’ll see you back here next week, don’t forget to wash your hands!” Nervous laughter. That was the last time I saw my students face-to-face. When I gave my last physical class, none of us had any idea that the next time we saw each other, it would be on a computer screen.
It shouldn’t really have been a surprise. Since January, the number of confirmed new cases had been increasing exponentially, and Italy and Spain were already putting quarantine measures into place. Still, the idea of going into “lock-down” just seemed so dramatic, something that happens in books, in movies, and OK, in China, but not in France. I couldn’t imagine that ever happening to me.
But happen it did. Seemingly without warning, one casual, little day in March, which shouldn’t have been anything special or memorable, France was given one clear order: Stay Home.
Time to adapt! I’d written the emails, created the groups, sent the instructions on how to connect; but had I been clear enough? Would everyone manage to connect? Would people even still want to keep learning English? Surely, everyone had bigger things to focus on at the moment?
“Hello? Hello? can you hear me?” a forehead appears on the screen. “Allo? Ca marche? Vous me voyez?” An ear appears next to the forehead. My boyfriend is banished to the bedroom and I’ve changed out of my pyjamas for the first time this week; English class is online! “J’entends rien !
Pourquoi j’entends pas ? Ah, si je branche les écouteurs, là j’entends !”
I really didn’t know what to expect, but the motivation, and determination from my students has been overwhelming. On their computers, on their tablets, on their mobile phones (or both at the same time… No wonder there was a horrific echo throughout the class!). With a little help from the kids, with a little help from the neighbours, without any help at all, my students were (almost) all there, in my living room, staring at me out of my computer screen, waiting for the lesson to start.
Oh right, that’s my cue; “OK everyone, let’s pick up where we left off. Turn to page 52, please.”