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Saturday, May 9, 2020

Teaching in the Time of Covid.

Week 3 of online/in class teaching is over and boy, have I learned some new stuff. Technology, never my strongest point, has taken centre stage in my planning. It has been revolutionary on a personal level as well. Just before the lockdown, I bought a Fitbit. Normally, I hate everything I buy but I am in love with my Fitbit.

Every morning, Scotto asks me how I slept. “Hang on!” I say as I reach over and check my Fitbit sleep results.

“Fair,” I answer. Or sometimes, “Poor, but thanks for asking,”.

Before purchasing my Fitbit, I thought I slept exceptionally well but now I often discover that most of the time I’ve only had a ‘Fair’ quality of sleep. Knowing this fact can completely ruin my day. How can I have any energy if I didn’t sleep well, even if I felt like I did?

I also discovered that sometimes my oxygen levels drop down dangerously low in the middle of the night, usually about 2am according to FB. If I die in my sleep it will be about 2am, I suppose. 

Scotto will wake up to a stiff body lying beside him because rigor mortis sets in about 3 to 4 hours after death.

Apparently, it takes 12 to 24 hours for rigor mortis to occur in a chicken. This is a worry because you never know if a chicken is just playing dead or not and you can easily put them in the wheelie bin prematurely (a friend told me that).
Now, I’m addicted to checking how I slept and whether or not I nearly died the previous night.

Every hour, my Fitbit ever so politely reminds me to get up off my bum. When I manage to walk 10 000 steps in a day it sends a buzzing vibration through my arm. Sparkling banners parade across the screen and I get a little dopamine rush. Being an attention seeking person, this display of appreciation gives me the people-pleasing acknowledgement I so crave.

Maintaining non-stop walking throughout the day has changed my teaching style. 

Instead of sitting at my desk doing work while the students are completing tasks, I goosestep around the classroom like a Gestapo officer, peering over their slight shoulders, pointing out spelling errors (in a German accent of course), shushing the chatters and obsessively checking my Fitbit for step counts.

On playground duty, I circle the swings repetitively as I eat my apple.

Phineas sauntered up to me on Friday as I passed by the monkey bars.

“Can I join you on your walk, Mrs Poinker?” he asked politely.

“Certainly, Phineas,” I replied, feeling slightly uneasy that he might be about to tell me off for something.

That morning, Phineas had scolded me for licking my fingertip whilst handing out a sheaf of A4 papers. He’s like the Corona Virus policeman in our classroom. Maybe he was about to blast me for eating with my mouth open.

Phineas is the reason I bought my Fitbit in the first place. He was boasting about his own one day and I developed Fitbit Envy. I know he’s only eight, but I’m very competitive. And even though he’s only eight, I find myself discussing issues with Phineas as if he’s an adult. You know, he told me once that he can see atoms. How cool is that?

“Are you trying to get your steps up Mrs Poinker,” he asked, raising his furry eyebrow at me and nodding shrewdly at my wrist.

“No!” I choked on a bit of apple. “I’m making sure all the children are playing safely of course.”

“So, what did you do on the holidays?” I asked him, trying to change the subject even though the holidays were three weeks ago and were now just a faded memory of my halcyon days in isolation far away from children.

He shrugged and sighed in disgust. “I practised my piano.” He kicked a stick in the dirt to emphasise his hatred for the repulsive instrument.

“That’s nice,” I said.

“Mum nags me all the time but I can already play all my EFFIN C’s,” he added with another violent kick in the dust.

I blinked. He didn’t actually swear but it was still highly inappropriate no matter how much he hated practising the piano.

“Phineas!” I said. “That’s terrible!”

“Why?” his eyes went wide. “I can play the Bs too.”

It clicked. He could play all his Fs and Cs. Thank God. I thought he’d gone all Gordon Ramsay on me.

“Look,” he said holding up his finger. “It’s a mood ring.”

“Wow,” I replied gushingly. “Now I can look at your mood ring and tell if you’re happy or sad.”

Phineas stopped mid step and stared at me with his pitying soulful eyes. “Or you could just look at my face,” he said. “It’s just for fun, Mrs Poinker. It’s not real.”
“Hmmm,” I agreed, feeling ever so slightly that he was talking down to me. “Where’s your Fitbit?” I asked, suddenly noticing his bare wrist.

“Gave it to my brother,” he said. “Don’t need it. I know how far I walk.” He gave me that look again. The ‘do I really have to explain’ look.

Yes, I thought. You might be eight my young man and think you know everything, BUT… you don’t. 

Giving away your Fitbit was a wanton act of carelessness. 

You might know how far you walk, Mr Phineas, but how are you now going to know how well you slept?