I’m no technician, this is for sure, and I have never had the smallest inclination for plugs and wires; as far as I am concerned what happens before pushing the power botton is a mystery.
So the morning of September 15 at 8:00 a.m., when I stepped into my class, ready to tackle for the first time the abyss of what is here called “integrated didactic”, that is the new emergency educational strategy to “safely” re-open school with half class at school, while the other one is connected at home, you may imagine my distress, when I saw that there was no computer connected on my desk, but only a key hanging from the locker as to hint:”do it yourself“.
Myself? Oh, my! With no Mr Run around, I am lost in these matters, plus I had to solve the problem quickly, as the students would have arrived in few minutes. I opened the locker and I found a tangled maze of wires, a sort of nest where the computer cozily rested. I stood there, watching that puzzle from a while, when I heard a boy say : “Hi Teach, do you want me to help you?” But for the distancing rules, I would have hugged him with gratitude: “Yes, please! ” And he quickly set to work, as I tried to memorize exactly what he was doing, because I had a feeling I would have had to reproduce those movements again and again. Fortunately, he ended right before his mates came in, and so it started that first nightmarish schoolday, a sort of madness that has become my daily routine.
Once the connection was established with those at home and after having done the call roll, I welcomed them all with the usual words (It was 8:15):
Me 😄:Good morning everybody, I hope you enjoyed your holidays, despite the restrictions of covid rules……I know this year will he weird, but I am sure………..bla bla bla.
Giuseppe at Home and the others 😩😩😩(waving trying to catch my attention ): “I can’t hear you”!
Me 😐(faking a certain familiarity with the matter using Meet chat): “Giuseppe, you should check your connection and sound options or…….”
Giuseppe at Home (politely ): “Teach, could you please check YOUR mike?”
Me 😳(blushing): “ My mike? Oh, you are right! It is off! (trying to hide my discomfort) 😊Now, can you hear me?
All at Home :“Yeeessssss”
Me 🤗(with a sigh of relief): “Splendid, splendid! So, what a start! Well, we will begin this year with a quick revision of some grammar rules, even to check if what we did during on-line learning did actually work. So let’s start with the usage of the Simple Past. I hope you remember that the Simple Past is used to….. ( taking a piece of chalk and slowly moving to the blackboard, but with a corner on my eyes I see all the faces on the screen waving again and making indinstict noises. Voices come and go), what is the matter?😩
Students in class (everybody buzzing, while Andrea says) : “I think they can’t hear you”!
Me😤: Again! (to those at home) “Can you hear me?”
Elena at Home😔: “Only if you speak close to the computer’s mike. When you move I can’t hear you. Actually, your voice sounds more like a whisper even when you are closer”.
Me🤔: “All right. What time is it? 8:35 already! Let me think, 🤔what if I use my headphones? (Taking the headphones out of my bag ) This must be the audio jack…so ….where is the audio port? Here. Let’s try……. the pink goes with the pink… 🤔( meanwhile the students in class watch me amused, how they love to see me in trouble, for once). Done, can you hear me ?😕
Students at home: (everybody but one) “Yessss. (Beatrice shakes her head)
Me: “What is the matter Beatrice?”😩
Beatrice: “I can only hear an echo”💁
Me: ” If all the others can hear me, I can’t help you.😒 There must be something wrong with your computer. Try and read my labial while I speak, I am sorry. What time is it? 8:45! So…….(speaking close to the screen so that Beatrice can see and writing in the Meet chat at the same time). In English there are regular and irregular verbs, to go, for example……oh, wait a minute! What’s going on?😭😭(Beatrice, Roberto, Maria, Sofia are leaving the meeting while the others’ images are still………3….2..1….all disconnected).
Students in class: “They have just written in our chat that they can’t manage to get back in again!”
Me😥: (visibly uneasy) “Tell them😥…tell them😥…..what time is it ? 8:55. Tell them, I’ll write what they have to do on the register” (the bell rings, I leave the classroom fretfully).
Students in class🙋♂️🙋🏼 (warmly): ” See you tomorrow Teach!”
Me:😄 “Oh, yes, see you tomorrow !” (maybe they had some doubts about it after such an exploit and definitely they must have felt pity for me. Definitely)