Time to dust off the blog as I really believe I may forget how this era in my life unfolded. Nothing revolutionary here, more a diary for my own purpose.
A few weeks ago, I was completing what I now know was my final work road trip visiting amazing teachers around Victoria. The ‘Coronavirus’ was news in other parts of the world and not having any significant impact on life in my little pocket of the world. We really had a lovely naivety of the things that would develop so quickly over the next few days and weeks. Australia was still impacted by the devastating bushfires and drought was still high on our minds.
Sitting in a cafe in a small country town, I remember overhearing chats about toilet paper shortages but in general, life was still ‘normal’. I think this was the time when many Aussies were aboard a cruise ship off Japan awaiting news that their enforced isolation was coming to an end, and perhaps it coincided with many Aussies returning from China spending some time in quarantine on Christmas Island. It is already getting tricky already to remember the chronology of the events.
I returned to Melbourne and life started to change – little by little. The situation overseas was starting to make major ripples in our lives. As a teacher, I was acutely aware of the evolving debate over potential school closures and could see schools working towards what started to appear an inevitable period of time where schools would operate in a severely altered format.
In mid-March (that’s two weeks from when I am writing) we had friends over to our house for dinner and I remember it being that awkward time when we didn’t know whether to hug each other when they arrived. No rules enacted – social distancing was just about to emerge in our lives.
A few days later, in my immediate family, ‘working from home’ was first discussed, then planned over a number of days and then enacted. My adult children adjusted very quickly, there were no complaints – a ‘just do it’ attitude.
My elderly father who lives is Aged Care is being cared for by a wonderful doctor who had what I realise now was very forward thinking conversations with her patients and families about possible scenarios – conversations that make us confident that he is in good hands. The opportunities for visiting him have moved through a number of small increments as the situation in the outside world altered.
Coffee meetups at the local cafe with my friends slowed and then ceased – we did not know that they were the last face to face catch ups for a while. It just seemed to naturally blur into our new normal and transfer into the virtual world. I’ve watched family members return from overseas and go into important isolation periods.
Now I join most of the people I know who are lucky enough to still have work (at least for a while), to be working from home and using so many different digital tools to maintain connections with my colleagues and friends.
Yesterday I interacted with colleagues, friends and family via all these tools in some way or another.
- Direct phone call – landline
- Mobile phone from car
- Twitter DM
- Instagram DM
- What’s APP
- Facebook Messenger
- Google Drive
I’ve watched my work team, adapt and co-ordinate actions in new situations. Our final team meeting was moved from a face to face catch up in Adelaide to a team meeting via Zoom from our homes around the country. CSER has always used technology in innovative ways so it was not a great stretch for us to adapt and create new actions to replace our face to face work.We are now preparing resources to help keep the excellent outreach work of CSER Adelaide available to teachers around Australia.
I have also witnessed so many little simple reminders of the goodness of humanity – the humour being used to manage our emotions, the Random Acts of Kindness, Teddy Bear Hunts, Chalk the Walk – all small but powerful indications of the good in people.
It is no surprise to me that through this technology, is what is helping us stay connected. I have been espousing it’s value for that since I started this blog. It is one of the main reasons I started this blog. I summarised those in this article in 2016. The innovative ways it is being used now are my silver lining.
Here’s hoping for more positive news in Part Two – at some later date.