A Teacher's Corona diary

Rachel Platt

Monday 9th March: our big concert in the Guildhall. They phone at 8.30am - are we coming? We say yes, the students perform brilliantly and it’s a great success. I shake hands with four members of our audience.

Rumblings around us. Big sporting events in Cheltenham and Liverpool are in the news - can we go on like this?

Monday 16th March: I feel a sense of elation after the morning double lesson with my U6. We’re still here. We wash our hands a lot. Lots of countries going into lockdown, some schools closing, we carry on.

Wednesday 18th March: the L6 are going home, we are keeping our U6. Oh heavens.

Thursday 19th March: we are closing down at 4.35pm tomorrow. I don’t know what to think. I teach my last double lesson that afternoon and say ‘we’ll be in touch, we’ll teach you online, don’t worry...’ What else can I say? Evensong, the Jazz Night and the last Chamber concert are all cancelled, after months of work.

Friday 20th March: I tidy up and gather what I need to take home. My U6 students come in to say goodbye. For the first time I am overwhelmed with emotion. I try to hide it. They have been so brilliant. All I can think of is ‘we will do our best for them.’

Monday 23rd March: first day working from home, that evening the ‘total lockdown’ speech from the PM. We still assume our students will somehow take the A level remotely and we’ll teach them from home.

My laptop crashes during my first Google Meet seminar. They say it’s beyond repair. I buy a new laptop on Amazon, it comes the next day, plus a printer/copier/scanner. New router, faster broadband, four visits from the engineer. Eventually I am up and running.

Now comes the real blow – there will be no A level exams at all. We’ve got to assess the students on ALL their work instead. I wonder how they are feeling. I am amazed at my reaction - I’m devastated. I’ve lost the two months of my year when I have total laser-like focus on intensive revision for that exam.

We get on with it. We start to use Zoom - much better. We finish the assessment - the most important job I’ve ever done in my teaching career. The L6 get into a routine. We offer the U6 optional ‘seminars’ – it’s the highlight of my week. We are overwhelmed by emails.

I’ve got a salary, I’ve got a structure for every day - I know how lucky I am. My freelance musician friends have no work at all.

Thursday 25th June. I go into college for the first time for tutor 1-2-1s. Dreading it, but it’s fine. I meet two staff and four students in person, and it feels remarkably normal.

Thursday 2nd July: 2,600 students join us for our virtual Welcome Day. Powerpoints, videos, poll questions, Q and A - we try hard to make it welcoming and colourful!

Friday 10th July. End of term. Our students have managed incredibly well – I’m proud of them. September won’t be ‘normal’ but we are positive and determined to make it work. Wish us luck!

Rachel Platt, Head of Music