Zoe Paramour is a Year 2 teacher and author from London.
Switching to teaching her class virtually during lockdown has been no walk in the park. But a walk in the park has been helping her.
It is the first thing people ask. It’s a good question.
How can you begin to recreate the community of a school digitally? How do you build a virtual classroom that replicates the atmosphere, relationships and dynamics of the real thing?
The truth is: you can’t. If this lockdown has taught me anything, it is that we are a LONG way from teachers being replaced by computers. But this hasn’t stopped us giving it a bloody good go.
If you have attended a virtual meeting in the last few weeks, you’ll know the challenges it presents: frozen screens, microphone problems, wifi cutting out etc. Now imagine the average age of the people in that meeting is seven and you’ll have a better idea of my day.
My class are amazing and have adapted quickly. We are doing our best to navigate this new online world together - with regular interruptions from pets, younger siblings and the occasional stuffed toy.
One downside is it means spending all day at a screen, and eight hours hunched over a computer is no fun at all. After the first day my eyes were sore, my back ached and I was feeling slightly “frazzled”, so I decided to get outside, stretch my legs and look at something that wasn’t a screen.
I headed out with the intention of just having a stroll around the local park and I ended up walking five miles. I came home feeling energised, positive and ready to enjoy my evening.
So, the next day I did it again – five miles. And the day after that. Until I became completely hooked on my daily exercise.
There are very few problems that can’t be solved by pacing the streets and parks of London, in the warmth of the evening sun with Stephen Fry reading “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” in my ear (via audiobook – he isn’t there in person because: a) social distancing and b) I don’t know him).
That was five weeks ago and since then, I have run or walked at least four miles every day. I am fitter, happier, lighter and more energised than I have been in months.
And if I am feeling better for walking, then I know what wonders it will work for my pupils.
Every day, I encourage them to keep active. It's especially important now to help them stay motivated and energised as they adapt to this new way of learning.
For those who used to walk or cycle to school, the lockdown resources from Living Streets are helping to top up their active minutes.
Of course I look forward to the day I walk back into the classroom to work with some of the most enthusiastic and good-humoured seven-year-olds you’ll ever meet. But I will miss having a couple of hours a day completely to myself (well, to myself and Stephen). But right now, I’m not missing that commute.
Last night we applauded the NHS heroes. Tonight, I am raising a glass to teachers. I've always known we were a good bunch but the quick thinking, creativity, good humour and team work I have seen in the last few days has blown me away. You are amazing. Cheers. #Fridayfeeling pic.twitter.com/q8sqkMsIDd— Zoë Paramour (@ZoeParamour) March 27, 2020
6 year-old Hector has swapped his birthday party for a walking challenge to raise money for the NHS.
Dame Sarah Storey tells us what opportunities the lockdown has created for her family.