Joining WA in Covid, Home Schooling, Uncertainty and Hope
Working from home with a school going child
As a parent of a child going into her las ttwo years of secondary education and being a university tutor myself, the happenings of this year with regard to education have been hugely concerning to me.
My own child's learning this year was very disrupted because of connection and equipment problems, not least with her having to learn in the space of a week, how to navigate the many different Office 365 apps which her teachers were using and having no computer at home that would run them only an ancient thing that crashed every five minutes in Office 365 (we eventually after about three weeks got a loan of a laptop from school).
Homeschooling and my own work
This was all going on whilst i was also trying to continue my own work as a tutor and navigating my own steep learning working out how to engage with students and colleagues through Teams, Zoom, Canvas and Google Meet, at the kitchen table. I actually enjoyed the new learning element of the whole thing because I was upgrading my skills and playing with technology, which I enjoy.
The students that could log onto my live classes really appreciated the engagement with us because they were all in states of panic about trying to finish their assignments and exams with only sporadic engagement from some Lecturers (who themselves were probably struggling with the new situation)and some with time zone difficulties and some with connection and equipment problems.
There were the other jobs of course like marking and course coordination and supporting students through email, all while while the cat was sitting on my lap or jumping on the keyboard and the dog needed a pee or whatever the demand of the hour was! However, I did enjoy not having to worry about what I was wearing every day and just threw a scarf on over my tracksuit or PJs and put on some lippy and earrings, fixed the hair and I was away!
Moving out to my tent to work
However, whatever pleasure I got from the new learning and having my cat on my lap whilst doing that, there were far too many distractions in the house andwith it being an old cold house (that I try to only heat when it is arctic becasue it literally DRINKS fuel oil), I decided eventually to move out into my trailer tent in my front yard because it was the only place that I was; 1) warm and 2) had some bit of privacy (I locked the kid and the dog and the cats in the house...no I didn't.... joke....JOKE!....really!). This 'new normal' for me working in my tent incidentally, was highlighted by Irish University Association the link is here if you'd like to see the video and those of other #lockdown, #workingfromhone experiences recorded by teachers and students all over Ireland.
This incidentally was all going on whilst I have been in the process of trying to write up my PhD this year, which of course went straight on the 'back burner' & Covid extension applied for!
No Summer Gigs!
As i am only employed in term time at UCC, I usually pick up other part time 'gigs' during the summer until the term starts again and I go back to my hourly paid roles at UCC. However, none of those summer 'gigs' are available this year, so neeedless to say financial worries top my list this year, (although that is always top of the list to be honest).
On a positive note (there always is one!), I have discovered that there is a great community of women who are on 'Van Dwellers' and 'Car Dwellers' FB pages. They all assure me that living in a van or car is life affirming and wonderful and liberating, so if I was ever faced witht hat scenario I know that I would have great support from those women.
I don't feel so worried now about the prospect of homelessness (that I did when faced with it two years ago and two years before that again), but I do have every finger and toe crossed that I don't have to deal with that scenario and go looking for a 'car bed' for another while longer.This is where I am hoping that my WA training will come into its own by providing me with a steady income throughout the year no matter what other work I do or where I live.
Other nice Covid things
On another positive note, it has been lovely to see so many people out walking and cycling and spending more time with their children instead of running around like headless chickens trying to juggle all the usual balls as I always am too, with my three part time roles at UCC during term time. I have enjoyed the Zoom yoga sessions and I have loved (and needed) the mindfulness techniques provided by our lovely Student Health and between those and 'sleep' audio books, Rescue Remedy ,Kalms and constant rubbings of lavender for tension headaches (along with the constant hand washing and hand rubbing and face mask wearing and all that palaver), I'm just about still here and smiling but some days it is a struggle tbh and I know I am not the only one.
Long term...who knows?!
So, here I am at WA doing a little bit of training most days and tryign to navigate how to set up my website, content, keywords and so on. I am surviving on a very small welfare payment which, if I dont' go anywhere or do anything, I can just about survive on! So I go out every day to my tent and do a bit more WA training or edit my posts so that they look a bit more polished.
What I find the hardest is to try and focus on what I should be doing every day in that ever growing long list of things that need to be done here and around the house or with family etc etc. I am not the best at prioritising my time and would love some advice and help with that.
I love the fact that the training takes me step by step through the every process and I have bought my domain and set up a website and learningmore every day!
The community here seems very supportive so there are interesting times indeed!