Sunday, August 23, 2020

A day in the life of a quarantined teacher

2020. What a year! As we sat planning our courses and curriculums at the end of 2019, could any of us have predicted how much of it would be delivered in lockdown, from home? I started this blog as a provisionally registered teacher in 2012 and have kept it up ever since. It has been a wonderful resource to show the development of my thinking, professional practice and knowledge over the years. I thought it was only right to capture some of the this latest development in practice too, that is, teaching while in quarantine.

9:30am - 10am Live Google Meet with Learning Hub in pyjamas

Every morning I have a live session with my Learning Hub. At our school, Learning Hubs have replaced form classes and tutor groups in favour of an advisory model. In a nutshell, this means I take more of a 'life coach' role than just monitoring student attendance. 

These daily hub sessions involve having a quick conversation with each of my 17 hublings (an HPSS term that has evolved to refer to the students in our Learning Hub) to check how they are doing, pass on any messages from the school or other teachers, help them set goals for the day/week and keep them accountable. We also go over their daily planner. 

The daily planner is a key piece of the puzzle for HPSS students. This helps students to manage their learning while off-site by helping them identify the learning tasks that should be completed for the day. As the hub coach, it also helps me identify when a student is not regularly checking in with what learning needs to be done. For students who do not yet have great self-managing skills, our morning check-ins involve me helping them to complete their planners for the day to ensure that the students know what they should be doing. It is important to remember that students don't all come to us with self-managing skills - we have to teach them how!

It's also worth pointing out that we tend not to turn our cameras on for this morning meeting. It's perfectly acceptable to plan your day while in your pyjamas you see...

10am - 11:30am Get dressed, check emails, schedule jobs, have coffee in the sun

After our daily hub check-in, I tend to get dressed in my lockdown work clothes. This involves some variation on my onesie, track pants, and sometimes a slightly tidier looking shirt if I have meetings where I have to be on camera. I then make a cup of coffee and sit in the sun (or under a blanket if no sun) to check my email. Email, despite being the bane of my existence, is also a key part of what helps schools function these days, whether we are together or apart. 

This part of the day also involves tending to various leadership responsibilities. For me, this involves dealing with various NCEA queries in my role as Principal's Nominee and updating my own to-do list accordingly. I also check in with my various Across School Lead tasks for our Kāhui Ako and follow up on any aspects of this work that need my attention.

11:30am - 1pm Planning time

Next, I like to spend a bit of time checking how my students are progressing in the tasks that have been set for them. To do this I use the Google Classroom grade book function to help me do this quickly or other websites that let me track student engagement. I tend to set at least one activity each week that 'self marks' so that it is really quick and easy to see who is engaging with the activities in the Google Classroom, but also who might be struggling with the basic language, concepts or skills we are dealing with. Tools I use for this include the auto mark Google Form Quiz, Quizizz and Playposit. During this planning time, I will also notify other hub coaches if their hublings are not keeping up with classwork so that they can notify their parents. 

As well as a quiz type activity, I also set an additional set that requires students to keep working on it for a more sustained period of time. This task is usually based on a SOLO Taxonomy scaffold to ensure that all students will be able to complete at least some of the task (see example task). Instructions are communicated to students in the same format on Google Classroom that I use when we are at school. I have found that using really consistent practice when in school and out of school sets my students up to be more successful for when I am not there to support them. 

Student voice that we collected during our previous lockdown indicated the students liked having:

  • Tasks set at the start of the week that they can work on for the whole week.
  • Must do, Should do, Could do tasks
  • Video instructions
Hence, I make sure to include the student requests in my planning too. 

1pm - 1:30pm Lunchtime

Since we can't travel the world right now, I am using my meals to reminisce about vacations past. Crepes have been a lockdown favourite as they remind me of the wonderful time I had exploring the streets of Paris this December just past. So much has changed in the world since then and I am incredibly grateful that we got to have one last holiday before the pandemic. Other travel food favourites include homemade pizza from scratch (because you have time to make the dough from scratch when you are home all day) and fancy European cheeses and bread. 

Of course, 1pm is also when we watch the 1pm Daily Update show - you can read the reviews on IMDB! The storyline on IMDB reads:

"Set in a dystopian world where autocratic and populist leaders are in charge of the USA, China, UK, Brazil and many other nations. 1pm Daily Update takes place in the imaginary island nation of New Zealand, a utopian society where science, facts, strong leadership and a genuine care for its people and environment take precedence over money and big business."



1:30pm - 3pm Teaching time

During this time of the day, I like to actively engage with my students online. This has involved everything from running Kahoots and running a 3 minute Art History Challenge. Most of the time, however, live teaching time is reserved for one of two things:

  • Drop-in question and answer sessions: During the regular class time, I let my students know that I will be online if they have any questions or if they need any help. Attendance is not compulsory and essentially this is just a chance for a face to face conversation if a student needs it. 

  • One on one sessions: One on one slots are usually reserved for my senior students working on assessments. Students are asked to book in a one on one session for us to check in on how they are going with their assessment. This can help the student overcome any obstacles they might be encountering and help keep the student accountable. Additionally, it has the added benefit of helping me to feel confident about the authenticity of any student work done at home as I can hear students talk to their work. We use a Google Sheet for students to make their appointment times.


3pm to 4pm Feedback and marking

As well as the usual marking of NCEA work, I spend quite a lot of time giving feedback to my students. Before beginning an assessment, I give my students a practice task. For the practice tasks, I give them an abundance of feedback that I ask them to address before beginning the assessment. This means that rather than just resolving my comment, they actually have to 'fix' things to ensure that they really take the feedback on board. Google Classroom makes giving feedback a whole lot easier these days. I love the comment bank which lets me upload common statements that I use again and again so that it is faster and easier to get through big classes. Sometimes I will come back to marking after dinner too. Usually with a hot toddy for motivation! 

4pm onwards

From 4pm I have device free time. So much of the day is online at the moment in in reality, I'm finding this quite difficult. Hence, I make sure that when I finish the workday, I try to get off my computer for a few hours. During the many weeks of lockdown this year, non-screen time activities have included flexibility training, circus training and conditioning, drawing, reading, sewing facemasks and cooking.

What about the next day?

I'm not really a creature of routine. So while the above might be one day's schedule, it is definitely NOT every day's schedule. Our daily 9:30am hub meeting happens every day (to help our whole hub get out of bed and get to work at a reasonable time), the other things shift around in the day based on meetings, my motivation levels and when the sun is out to go for a walk. 


  1. What a wonderful account of a day in your life as a teacher! Thank you for sharing!

  2. You make your day sound very easy Danielle, I think that you are doing yourself an injustice. As a beginner teacher I am in awe.