Different ways of Talking and Listening to Voices

Many thanks to Suzanne Smith at ReconnectingYou for hosting our WISETribe meeting today via Zoom. It’s always good to share problems and solutions.

Some take-aways:

  1. Many of us are working flat-out to get our businesses online. In the post-pandemic lexicon, this means that we are pivoting, creating new events, products and services. You might hate the word, but pivot! you must.
  2. We’re home-schooling kids or looking after students who have bounced-back from University. This means managing resources, creating boundaries and instilling discipline so that everyone can continue to function.
  3. We’re teaching and learning life new skills, particularly around conversations and chatting. This means using Zoom and getting kids to interact with teachers via email so they can get their voices heard, giving and getting feedback on their learning.
  4. We’re thinking about how to look after our homes and other properties we manage for other people, making places safe and sustainable to live in.
  5. We’re looking ahead at building communities to support people who are struggling with the changes and challenges wrought by social isolation.

Tutoring Testimonial

A Year Ago – When my son was the same height as me!

I think my son has grown 6 cm since lock-down started. He’s taller than me now! I asked him for a few words about how I have helped him with his learning, especially with his English. This is what he said:

“tutoring makes me feel sure of my ideas”

“and helps me to include the right words”

“…saves time because I know I’m doing it right”

My son

If you are looking for a tutor for your child during lock-down, give me a call on 07504007740 or email me at ruthmcintosh9@gmail.com. Sessions delivered via Zoom.

How is Home Learning Going? Want to Learn Some Short-Cuts? Get Your Child Reading for Pleasure the Good Apple Way! 8 Things You Can Do… 3 Things You Need to Avoid!

Top Tips Below!

At home in lock-down with The Good Apple we’re having mixed results with the home learning… The biggest plus is getting my youngest reading more for pleasure. Actually, it doesn’t matter if your kid is struggling with some areas. READING WIDELY is the single most significant indicator of future success. So… what can you do if they’re not reading?

DO – some of my favourite methods:

  1. Let your child choose the book. Choice is the greatest motivator. This is reading for pleasure so it is additional to the class reader. Reading their own choice will also help your child with techniques for reading set texts. *I’ll drop some tips for getting free access to books during lock-down at the end*.
  2. Context or picture prompts: take time to establish the context. Do the images help your child feel more curious about the setting? Enjoy the getting started bit and take your time to have a chat about what they’re expecting.
  3. Go down a level: sometimes fluency and confidence are more important than moving up a level, especially if you are helping your child become an independent reader… this is about establishing a reading habit so it becomes don’t-tell-the-teacher FUN!
  4. Turn-taking: your child reads a line or paragraph or page then you do the same with them. It is a simple and amazingly effective technique. It forces you to share the same story space and keeps the pace moving. Aim for a number of pages which is fairly low, say 15 for a twelve year old and they’ll want to do 20 or 30 and maybe manage another 20 on their own before they put it down for the day. Now is the time to up your ninja-warrior mind-control game!
  5. Make the dialogue come alive: get them acting and give them the best lines!
  6. Find a comfortable spot to share reading. This might be away from the place where they do their home learning. Remember snuggling in the reading corner when you were a kid? Get yourself a tea or coffee and settle in with a rug and your feet up.
  7. Read after food. Maybe after breakfast when you are slowly warming up for the day or after lunch or supper? Reading is a reward for doing the busy-busy stuff. If necessary, bribe your kid with chocolates, raisins or slices of apple. Try to avoid doing it when they are super-tired or grumpy and bear in mind that kids with reading problems like dyslexia will be more or less affected at different times of the day and less stress means more success.
  8. Get a tutor… I am available for Zoom sessions, ruthmcintosh9@gmail.com

DON’T – some not-so-favourite methods:

  1. Audiobooks: OK, this might be controversial… whilst your child is an emergent reader I would STAY AWAY from the audiobooks. What your trying to foster here are reading skills. Readers need to see the shapes that words make in print or on screen. How are kids going to get used to print if they don’t see it?
  2. Adults reading alone out loud. No. Nay. Never. This is too passive. Always. Imagine my consternation when I heard that teachers in Primary schools had text read aloud without the kids having their own copies! No wonder modern kids struggle to read! All learning in our schools had become too passive and teacher-led as kids are silenced in the name of classroom control. YOU CAN FIX THIS. And when they are back in school maybe you could make sure that, at the very least, teachers use visualisers (Ladybugs) which allow them to share their copy on screen?
  3. Watching films. As any English teacher worth their salt will tell you, NEVER WATCH THE FILM before you have finished the book! I am a firm believer in this. Your goal is to get your kid to learn what a book can do that a film misses. When reading, understanding grows over time so a film can feel like a bit of an anti-climax. Even stuff like Kes where they miss the back-story out. Your ultimate goal is for them to say that the book is better than the film!

*For FREE ONLINE libraries search through your local authority, for example mine is DERBYSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL>LIBRARIES>Ebooks… Thanks Dad for getting me started on this one.

Please get in touch if you are interested in my GOOD APPLE TUTORING SERVICE to cover reading for pleasure at all levels… I can also cover texts for A Level or GCSE English Literature and Language to all levels and my goal is to get your child involved in active learning which will increase their confidence and improve their life-long learning skills.

Stay-at-Home Problems

Funny things happen when we stay at home or lose our positions in the wider world.  When these things happen, our identity “slips” in to the unknown because we are no longer defined by external forces.  Having the time to worry and feel low doesn’t help but that’s where we are right now.  We’re afraid, we lack courage.  It’s OK, we’re only human. 

Some thoughts on COURAGE by Glenda Strong,

courage for me can be picking the phone or simply walking out of my front door to greet the day. Sometimes that takes huge effort.  For the small things in life I am very careful.  For the big things in life I will risk it.  Big acts of courage have been moving countries, for example immigration to the UK and starting over, establishing a new identity as an illustrator and leaving behind the security of a regular salary and job description.  Courage is a work in progress and the will to simply keep going… the courage to be me”.

Looking from the outside in, or from a distance, it is easy to see the journey.  This is enough.  Most of us have been through MASSIVE CHANGES before.  So, the good news is…YOU CAN DO IT!

Interview with Ruth McIntosh at The Good Apple Copywriting Service for Kumi Osawa

Total Word Nerd

Tell us about your business!

I’m a total word nerd!  I love sharing stories so I offer copy-writing, content writing and proof-reading services through my business Good Apple Copy. 

I blog for business and have two WordPress blogs. I also publish posts by guest writers so anyone looking to collaborate is welcome to contact me.  Interested?  I’ll proof-read and publish your post free of charge! Goodapplecopy is a vehicle for brand stories and new content whilst Slow-Cycle.com is a just-for-fun blog for lovers of experiential travel.

What made you start your own business?

I was a teacher of English in secondary schools for 20 years before I took time out in 2018 to volunteer in a book shop at a National Trust Property.  Following that, I worked for youth and disability charities, primarily as a support worker.  I also had fun by teaching creative writing, organising events and updating social media so I thought… In my next move, I’ll do more of that!

What advice can you give to those that are looking to start their own business?

Like many people starting their own businesses, I’ve found getting started a lonely and tricky business.  You never know how it will work but sometimes there’s a spark that you can nurture in to a flame.  I’ve found Networking a valuable source of information: when people come together, they can collaborate and exchange skills.  I’ve learned not to be shy!  When you have a small business, you are your brand so you’ve got to SHOUT about what you do and put yourself out there.  I’m confident in myself and my abilities, I think you’ve got to be. 

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I’ve got two children in secondary school so I spend my spare time supporting them with their learning.  I’m also in to Art, walking, cycling very slowly, salsa dancing, mooching and eating.  I read a lot, sometimes a book a day.  I spend a lot of time day-dreaming! 

What’s your favourite song and why?

I’ve been humming American Pie recently!  I remember the original version by Don McLean. I don’t object to Madonna-mother-of-reinvention’s rendition but the story doesn’t read the same as the lyrics are about a young musician losing his idol. 

A long long time ago
I can still remember how
That music used to make me smile…
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And maybe they’d be happy for a while

But February made me shiver
With every paper I’d deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn’t take one more step…

Sure, the lyrics tell a story and there’s that feeling of loss and sadness which starts to subside a bit when you get to the chorus before returning with a vengeance.  It’s sad to think of a world without music or dancing.  Impossible too.  There are so many other things that are touched on in this song: missing people, thinking about collective experiences.  I’m not a muso but my current boyfriend got me hooked on him when he played guitar and sang a soppy song.  Yes, I am a sucker for emotional blackmail!  He’s also an excellent salsa dancer with cool friends so that’s all good.

What have you learned from lock-down?

Since the world went in to lock-down we’ve been learning so much so quickly, once we recovered from the culture-shock that is. We’re constantly being bombarded with challenges so I think that the corona-coaster will be one hell of a ride with twists and turns a-plenty.  On a basic level, I’ve learned how to breathe in a smaller space without losing my mind and how to open up to the wider world with my writing. I still have the odd wobble every now and again. This crisis has made me feel vulnerable and grateful for what I’ve got.

What help do you need to develop your business?

Reflecting on my business and personal growth I’ve realised that I’m not yet “a big sharer” beyond my current circles.  Hello reader!  Please can you help me with this?  The most important thing I’ve learned is that health comes first. As long as you’ve got that, you’ve got time on your side.

What’s new for you in 2020?

Ideally, I’d like to pick up a range of regular clients from different kinds of businesses, charities and service providers. 

My big vision is that my writing will, in some small or massively-successful way, reduce social isolation, stress and other nasties.  There’s also a desire for me to hear and share diverse voices, tackling issues around sustainability and kindness so that we can look towards the future with confidence.

Copyright 2020 @goodapplecopy.com

Adrian Mole and the Coronavirus Lockdown

A Spoof by Ruth

March 10th

Rat Wharf, Leicester

Dear Boris,

You may remember me.  We met at the Rat Wharf HS2 redevelopment project in Leicester.  We had a brief conversation about bees before you were called away to ruffle your hair for an urgent sound bite.

I am writing to ask you to write a letter about the threat posed to all citizens by the Coronavirus.  I am booked on an Easyjet flight to Rome for March 13th at a total cost of £87.51, which I paid on January 7th.  Imagine my alarm when I turned on the television today to see people in Rome confined to playing violins on their balconies!  My problem is this: international flights to Italy are still operating on the date I am supposed to travel.  Being a man of 53, with the possibility of underlying health conditions, I could not happily take my seat.  Even better, perhaps you could provide a back-dated letter to my personal travel adviser Jonny Bond of Latesun Ltd explaining my special circumstances?  I can ill afford to lose £87.51.

I remain, sir,

Adrian Mole

March 14th

I went to see Daisy today at Fair Green Cottages and Holiday Homes, formerly The Piggeries.  It might be a long time until I see her again and we’re not really on good terms after the Marigold texts.  That was fifteen years ago and somehow she’s perkier than ever since the divorce.  When Daisy was digging in the garden I could see her taut frame under her White Company shirt and camisole, her hair blowing in the breeze.  The green fields beyond sparkled and birds danced through the fruit trees in the orchard.  I asked her what she thought about the virus.

“I think we’ll go in to lock-down and everything will close for twelve weeks or more,” she said.  She then went on to tell me that she was closing her AirBnB and monetising her blog so she could expand her virtual counselling business.  

“What will happen to the sale of Rat Wharf?” 

“I don’t know Aidy, only time will tell.” 

She looks so beautiful when the corners of her mouth turn up. She reminds me so much of Pandora Braithwaite.  I wonder where she is now?

“No, there won’t be a lock-down Daisy, don’t be stupid.  What will happen to the economy?  Planes are still flying you know and the government will be meeting up to talk about it. I’m sure Boris has got a plan.”

“Aren’t you supposed to be meeting Rosie in Italy this week Aidy?  What happened? 

We didn’t talk much after that. Daisy was busy taking snaps of her homestead for Instagram.  Clouds were gathering and I thought I’d go home and watch a bit of afternoon tele.  I don’t like thinking about bad news in the afternoon.

Inside the Hospital and the Life of the Coronavirus Ward – guest post no.2 by Ed Stonecliffe

Happy to be alive and breathing oxygen

This account in 98% true. I have made certain factual changes to protect the anonymity of the people involved. Some of them don’t want a mention and others I was unable to ask.

The admissions doctor decided that I should go on Coronavirus ward so I was moved on a trolley to a holding room where a nurse hooked me up to a drip, took a blood sample and inserted tube in my vein through which I would receive intravenous antibiotic injections over the next three days.

“Antibiotics?” you say, “but they don’t work on viruses.” Indeed they don’t but they will knock out any secondary bacterial infection, including the possibility of a bacterial infection causing my pneumonia, and let my body concentrate on tackling the virus.

I was then moved up to the ward and my bed installed in a bay closest to the window but furthest from the bathroom. There was a strange bright blue feature on wheels it looked like some sort of robot. It was a machine that measured blood pressure, pulse rate and most importantly, the oxygen content of the blood.

This contraption seemed to come around once every four hours with a nurse assisting it. It gave me something to look forward to. Very often, especially at night I’d see the silhouette of the monitor and think that it was a person. A silent Florence Nightingale watching over us and caring for us in the dark times.

I’d also been given an oxygen mask. This was made of clear plastic and fastened over my head with two elastic bands. It had a tube extending from it which made me look a bit like an elephant but made breathing a lot easier. It made a lot of noise and the additional oxygen flow came out of holes at the side of the mask which dried my eyes. At least I wasn’t on a ventilator.

There were four other people in my room. One was very loud, one was very angry, one was quietly observing what was going on around him and the fourth just seemed to lie in his bed and moan occasionally. I smiled at them all when I could and said the occasional word. Sometimes they responded, but not all the time. The quiet observing man seemed to acknowledge me the most.

A doctor visited me and drew the curtains around my bed, this must have been what happened as I didn’t leave my bed for three days. In my memory, I was sitting at large refectory table in a huge dining hall. He asked me when my symptoms started and I told him. “You’re at a critical point,” he said words falling heavily on my ears, “you’ll either start getting better or start getting worse, but there’s a lot we can do with ventilators”. Strangely I don’t remember being scared or worried. Maybe I was too ill. I was just accepting, or the illness has confused my memories.

I told the people who needed to know about my predicament: my parents, my girlfriend and my next-door neighbour. They seemed understanding but very worried. I don’t live with my girlfriend and hadn’t seen her for a couple of weeks before I’d been hospitalised. It can’t have been easy for her as she has two children and her parents and sister to think about. I really didn’t want to be an additional burden to her worries.

I got a text message on my phone. My next-door neighbour is a retired warrant officer from the Tank Regiment, a tough no-nonsense guy with a heart of gold. The message read “Hi mate, I’m giving you the rank of trooper in my regiment so the next is LCpl (Lance corporal). You take care, try to sleep, drink water and be good to the young nurses. Take care and sleep now mate.”

I replied, “A high honour, I’ll text you in the morning for that stripe”.

I don’t remember sleeping. The angry patient was angry and the loud patient was loud and I tried to keep breathing and drinking water. I also produced a lot of urine and regularly filled up the pressed cardboard bottles I’d been issued with. I really didn’t want to dehydrate as I’d read that kidney failure could be an additional complication.  

When I awoke, I sent my neighbour a text “Just letting you know to get the stripe tin open” I’d survived my first night and made Lance Corporal. Throughout my stay in hospital my neighbour and I played this game. Each morning I got a new promotion and I rose through the ranks. But no promotion was a sweet as the morning I got to sew my first stripe on my hospital pyjamas.

The loud patient was taken away that day to another ward. He was elderly and I overheard the conversation he had with the doctor. There was nothing more they could do for him. They must have taken him to another room for palliative care.

I washed myself in a pressed cardboard bowl and was ready for breakfast. For the last week or two I could hardly eat but my appetite had returned with a vengeance and I began a six-day love affair with hospital food. I ate everything. The food was delicious, especially the custard.

A different doctor came to see me. He told me I’d been responding well to the oxygen therapy and that they hoped to have me home soon. Then from behind his mask, “I know you, you used to drink at the pub I worked at when I was an undergraduate.” I didn’t recognise him, probably because of the mask, and maybe I was usually drunk when I went to that pub and certainly was when I left. We talked about the pub and the characters that used to go there for a few minutes. It was nice to recall happier times.

That night was a tough one. The angry man was very angry and tried to walk out of the ward. He was fastened to a drip and had a catheter in also I don’t think he was strong enough to get out of bed and he started to fall. I pressed my alarm and a nurse came in. She turned off my alarm, called for help and went straight over to the angry man. “I want to go home” the angry man kept shouting. “Well, start working with us and we’ll get you home,” said a nurse.

The morning came along and I got another stripe for my pyjamas. The angry man was subdued and a Doctor came to see him. It sounded like he was doing well but non-cooperative. When the doctor went away the quiet patient, who up to now had said very little, started to talk and the angry man opened up as to why he was so desperate to get home. He had no mobile phone and had been unable to contact his wife. He was elderly with existing health problems but he didn’t feel too bad despite having the virus. He just wanted to talk to her.

Each bed had a phone and television unit next to it. The quiet man, who I’ll call Brian, explained how to use the phone and the now not so angry man, who I’ll call Dave, rang his wife. A period of peace entered the room. Dave lost all his anger and really started to cooperate with his treatment and Brian started talking a lot. I think I was talking a lot too. There were now just four of us in the room: Dave, Brian, myself and a man I’ll call Eric. Eric was barely conscious and surviving on teaspoons of ice cream. Dave cooperated with the nurses. He used a zimmer frame at home and the nurses got him one to use in the ward.

That night I encountered a new phenomenon… Night terrors!

It was three in the morning and I awoke suddenly. The hospital was on fire, all the staff had left I was terrified. I was dehydrated but my bladder was full. I tried to call for help but couldn’t make a noise. My bladder was really full and I couldn’t reach for a bottle. I couldn’t move. Then, suddenly my bladder let go and there I was, lying in a burning hospital, with no staff, drenched in my own warm urine.

Somehow, I found myself able to move a little. I pressed my alarm button. Just in case someone in this hospital inferno was still around. A very calm nurse appeared and turned of my alarm. “What’s the problem Edward?”

“Isn’t the hospital on fire?”

“Not as far as I’m aware.”

“Oh… That’s good…erm… I… er…I’m afraid I’ve wet the bed.”

She didn’t seem at all shocked. She got me some clean pyjamas and helped me clean up. Then she stripped and re-made the bed like it was all in a day’s work. Which, let’s face it, it probably was.

The night terrors continued until a couple of days after I left hospital with decreasing intensity. The second one was pretty terrifying too but thankfully none were as fearful as that first one and thankfully with no more bed wetting. I think it’s the shock of waking up in an unfamiliar body at three in the morning. Not a good time for anyone.

The next day was so much better. Dave was quieter and concentrating on using his new zimmer frame. Brian was talkative and told me many things about himself. The doctor reduced my oxygen supply and I ate hospital food.

It was around this time I called a very good friend of mine to let him know how I was doing. He’d been in contact with my girlfriend and he’d sent me a text wishing me well. I wanted to talk to him. My friend is a physiotherapist with his own practice. He took a great interest in how I was doing. I hadn’t rung him as a physio but as a friend.  He’d treated my tennis elbow in the past and given me some good advice when I cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats last summer. I wasn’t looking for medical advice so I was surprised by what he said next.

“How much oxygen are you on and how much oxygen is in your blood?” He seemed ever so knowledgeable about my predicament. I told him I’d find out next time I was monitored.

After the next round of monitoring I called my physio-friend. “I’m on two litres of oxygen, the second lowest dose I believe, and my oxygen level is 95%”

“Right we need to get you walking, can you get a zimmer frame?”

“I’ll see what I can do”

“And get used to taking your oxygen off for a while and breathe normally. Then put it back on but get your lungs doing some work.”

Understand this: the hospitals are very busy and the staff are very stretched. Normally I’m sure that there is all sorts of help on hand to get people home but these are not normal times. I needed to get myself walking and on the advice of my friend I took a few short wobbly steps.

“What are you doing?” the nurse called Mary asked when she saw me.

“I’m going to walk to the end of my bed, then I’m going to turn around and walk back.” This wasn’t a discussion, it was a statement. I could see she wasn’t happy but I did it anyway. She clapped, probably more in relief than approval. I sat in a chair.

I have a very stubborn streak which usually I find to be a great asset but sometimes a curse. I needed to keep this in check, and I knew it.

Having seen the angry Dave, I could see how destructive a stubborn streak could be. People talk about fighting illness but I’m afraid that is codswallop. You don’t fight illness, your body does that for you. In my case with a good dollop of help from the medical profession. It was their help that saved my life.

I was actually a passenger in all this. All I had to do was take my medication, eat my meals and drink lots of water. I didn’t fight anything in hospital. I laid no clenched fist on anything or anyone. I just did as I was told and tried to cause no problems for anyone. The fighters were a pain. They kept trying to get out of bed before they were ready. They complained they weren’t being treated properly. Dave was behaving himself now and was a very pleasant man. And he was going to be discharged. But we’d got a new patient in our room now, Clive; a younger man with pre-existing medical problems.

Dave went and we wished him well. Clive required more specialist care and was moved off the ward and transferred to another hospital.

Another bonus for me, when Dave left his zimmer frame had been left in our room. Oh what a shame, I’d got my zimmer frame now!

The doctors reduced my oxygen still further and I just had some tubes now instead of the oxygen mask. I spoke to my friend.

“You need to ween yourself of the oxygen. Take it off when you walk. Try not to panic and put it back on straight away when you’ve finished. Let your lungs recover naturally before you put the oxygen back on.”

He also gave me some breathing exercises for my lungs. Four deep breathes every hour using the diaphragm. I was more than happy to do this and feel my lungs waking up each time I did it.

The other piece of advice he gave was to trust my legs. He told me that if my legs felt strong then they would support me and to try not to be fooled by a wobbly head. My legs did feel strong and they did support me.

I started to use the frame to get me to the bathroom at the opposite end of the room. Putting the tubes back on, but not immediately, when I’d finished and returned to my bed or armchair. I was spending longer sitting in the chair as it was comfortable and supportive and felt very secure.

I had to check my bullheadedness. It would’ve been easy to do too much and tire myself out, so I started speaking to the nurses and they seemed happy with what I was doing although I never let on about my secret physiotherapist. I also got plenty of rest. Before I tried anything new I told them what I was going to do. I didn’t want to scare them like I scared Mary when I walked to the end of my bed and back.

Sometimes I’d forget to put my oxygen back on. It didn’t seem to make much difference anyway. Brian was making good progress too, walking further, getting to the bathroom on his own. He told me that as a young man he’d had tuberculosis and was using the same techniques to recover from coronavirus as he did from TB. I shared with him some of the advice I’d been given and we became quite a team.

Eric lay in his bed eating teaspoons of ice cream.

We got a new patient also called Dave. Dave 2 had a terminal illness already and had months to live. Now he had coronavirus as well. He also could use a zimmer frame to get himself to the toilet so my purloined zimmer was given to him. Just as well as it forced me to walk without it. The doctor reduced my oxygen to nothing and the nurses continued to monitor my oxygen levels.

I could walk but my steps were slow and deliberate. I’d place my foot in front of me and then let my body follow it. Step and arrive, step and arrive. I’d done some Argentine tango a few years ago. My steps were the same as the basic tango walk. So, like an Argentine Gaucho, I tangoed around the room.

“What are you doing? It was Eric. The first words he’d said in six days. It must have been a terrible shock for him to see me dancing the tango without a partner.

“I’m going home Eric, I need to practise walking”

“Oh” and that was the only time I spoke to Eric.

Brian and I listened to Dave 2. We spoke to him too of course but we listened. He knew he was dying but that didn’t seem to mean he wasn’t alive. He was very good company. Funny, interesting and God was he brave.

I was told I could go home. I was sure that I wasn’t ready but I organised a lift. The doctor advised that I was very unlikely to be contagious at this stage in my illness but just to be on the safe side I should wear a mask. I asked for one for my driver as well.  I cleaned myself up and for fear of contaminating the car I was going home in. I ditched all my clothes in the hospital’s bin, with their permission of course. I got a pair of fresh clean pyjamas and a pair of slipper socks.

My lift was in the car park. I went and washed myself all over and put on clean clothes. Molly, the staff nurse, came and I said I was ready to go. I said my goodbyes to Brian, Dave 2 and Eric and walked out of the room. Dave 2 was singing, “Oh for he’s a jolly good fellow, For he’s a jolly good fellow, For he’s a jolly good fellow, And so say all of us” I’ll remember that for the rest of my life.

I walked past the nurses’ station and all the staff applauded me. It must have been a lift for them to see me leave but they’d done all the hard work. I’d just sat about waiting to get better and done as I was told. I applauded them back and shouted my thanks. It was a long corridor to the exit and I couldn’t walk it. Molly got me a wheelchair and pushed me out of the hospital. My lift was there with the car door open. He was already wearing a filter mask. I put on my mask and thanked Molly again. I got into the nearside rear passenger door of the car and opened the window. I was going home. I’d got a network of friends and family lined up to help me through the first few days out of hospital

The world seemed so big, bright and quiet because everyone was on lockdown. I got home and was confronted by the first staircase I’d seen since I’d been in hospital. No dramas, I could do stairs… and I did. I went into the bathroom and had a shower.

For Teachers and Parents: What Have YOU Learned About Teaching and Learning Since the Covid-19 Lockdown?

Please let me know what revelations you’ve had since the lock-down and how the learning is going.

Good Apple Copy and Tutoring

Over recent years our kids and teachers have been under increasing pressure. Over-stuffed specifications and examinations with rigid mark schemes have changed teaching and learning…and not for the better!

So how does Covid change our understanding of teaching and learning?

  1. Children and parents get an enormous amount of work set by school. This is a great way to show parents just how much the school system has changed! Most parents are also amazed by the level at which our kids are expected to work.
  2. Children start to log on and complete their favourite tasks first showing us that they are capable of some independent learning.
  3. Children and parents work together to complete longer and more complex tasks including making arguments, developing ideas and understanding more difficult concepts. This is where useful learning can take place…but

View original post 662 more words

For Teachers and Parents: What Have YOU Learned About Teaching and Learning Since the Covid-19 Lockdown?

Over recent years our kids and teachers have been under increasing pressure.  Over-stuffed specifications and examinations with rigid mark schemes have changed teaching and learning…and not for the better!

So how does Covid change our understanding of teaching and learning? 

  1. Children get an enormous amount of work set by school.  This is a great way to show parents just how much the school system has changed!  Most parents are also amazed by the level at which our kids are expected to work.
  2. Children start to log on and complete their favourite tasks first showing us that they are capable of some independent learning.
  3. Children and parents work together to complete longer and more complex tasks including making arguments, developing ideas and understanding more difficult concepts.  This is where useful learning can take place…but
  5. We stop and reflect.  Some of us might think: SHIT!  I DON’T KNOW IF I CAN DO THIS!
  6. Then, the realisation: WE DON’T NEED TO HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS! 
  7. School learning can be narrow.  Home learning is also pretty important…
  8. On a basic level: can our kids wash their hands properly, make sandwiches and do chores?
  9. Go outside and marvel in nature?
  10. Fiddle and build stuff out of what they already have?
  11. Fix things in the house or paint?
  12. Maintain relationships over the telephone or use technology to keep in touch?
  13. Understand the Biology behind Covid?
  14. Calculate the maths behind budgeting?
  15. See how we’re all connected by globalisation: similar and different?
  16. Use art, music, drama and humour?
  17. Read widely?
  18. The list goes on…

So I’ve not been too hard on the kids.  Fortunately, they seem pretty resilient.  All their needs are met and they’ve got loads of resources at their disposal.  We’ll do what we can because children WILL learn, they are brilliant at it! For now the future is uncertain and our kids will need tools to deal with that: to live sustainably, responsibly and respectfully, meeting their basic and higher needs with hard work, creativity and good humour.


In recent years our children have been silenced whilst teachers have been banging on about how to pass exams.  In some places this has had a hugely detrimental effect on the mental health of teachers and pupils.  This effect is less likely to happen to the children of the elite in private schools where there is less pressure to follow the National Curriculum and no fear of OFSTED. 

At the same time there has been a movement undermining the professionalism of teachers and a rigorous script to follow for those who remain in the classroom (reader, I left).  Being a teacher, especially in many of the prescriptive and punitive academies, has been a thankless, soul-destroying occupation.  The strict pedagogy of right and wrong seems such a crazy way to curtail discussion, particularly for those of us in the arts and humanities.  And how does it equip children to find their voice and place in an increasingly complex, dynamic and changing world?

Whilst for many of us, memories and school and learning have a golden or rosy quality, we don’t all need or want the faux Govian-experience of education forced on state schools in the last decade.  

My personal experience of education was probably pretty average or just above.  I went to an enormous mixed comprehensive in Cheshire in the 1980s with around two thousand other pupils.  My teachers were a mixed bunch, many of whom had gone to University in Manchester or other red-bricks in the 1960s and 70s… so today they might be described as radical hippies (who knew stuff) and they certainly wouldn’t hold with the prescriptive nonsense that teachers of today have to deal with.  We did lots of coursework, fieldwork, group work and a fair bit of mucking about.  We held debates, gave talks and scribbled in rough books. There were occasional strikes and strong Union action at the time so after-school and lunchtime activities were out of the question.  My parents can’t remember me ever doing any homework.  This didn’t stop me from achieving, far from it.  Blessed with wise parents, adequate (sometimes good) teachers and a fair amount of confidence, I breezed through examinations and managed to secure top grades without breaking in to a sweat or bursting in to tears with my mental health intact.  Just in case you are wondering, it wasn’t a fluke, I managed to go on to University and gain a First Class BA Hons in English Language with Linguistics despite my non-Grammar schooling!

Thankfully there’s a growing recognition that we will need to re-group our thoughts and attitudes towards education after Covid.  Let’s learn from period of reflection that the lock-down has provided and build a system that is more flexible and useful for our children and future generations.

From Self-Isolation to the Coronavirus Ward by Ed Stonecliffe Guest Writer

I think it was the Thursday 19th March when the headache began.  Not a slight, dull headache; not a “has anyone got any paracetamol?” headache.  Satan was pounding my head with his special head-hammer.  I took some paracetamol anyway and called in sick.

I’d been self-isolating for a few days because I felt sinusy and had a bit of a cough. The lock-down had just started. I was working from home and alone.

The next morning things were different: Hallelujah!  My headache had gone!  But that was the last of the good news.  It felt like my lungs were only operating at one quarter of their normal capacity and I knew this wasn’t good.  I packed a few things I might need in to a bag and rang 111.

It was about five in the morning and I got through relatively quickly. On describing my symptoms, the health professional on the end of the phone said they were calling me an ambulance and it would be about 15 minutes.

The ambulance arrived and I think that I was able to walk in.  The crew made a few checks: they listened to my chest, that sounded clear and took my temperature, slightly elevated.  My blood pressure was a little on the high side but nothing to worry about.  Then they measured my heart rate… high.  And the dissolved oxygen in my blood… low.

“Which hospital do you normally go to?”

I didn’t know the answer.  I have only been to hospital once in the last twenty years and that was to have a wisdom tooth removed.  That had been at Chesterfield.

“Chesterfield I suppose,” I replied and we took off with the blue lights flashing.

When we got to the hospital medics ran the same tests with the same results plus they took a blood sample and a chest X-ray.  A doctor appeared and said what he’d seen wasn’t much to worry about but they’d seen some changes in my lungs that could be consistent with Coronavirus.

“We’re going to send you home,” he said. “But if things get worse, just ring 999.”

Before I left they swabbed me for Coronavirus testing.

“If you’re positive someone will ring in three days’ time.  If not, you don’t have Coronavirus and you’re clear.”

“You’re young,” he said (I’m 48) “With no pre-existing health problems, you don’t smoke and you’re fit.  You should shake it off in a few days.”  And with that he disappeared. There was no-one I could ask to pick me up and I told the staff so.  They kindly arranged for a free ambulance to take me home.

The next three days were a bit of a blur to be honest. My breathing became more normal for a time.  I lost my appetite but tried to eat three meals a day, they were small and hard work to eat.  I had to swallow each bite separately because if I took a bite before I’d swallowed the previous one the chewed food would build up in my mouth and be almost impossible to swallow.  I also felt very, very thirsty and drank bottle after bottle of water.

On the third or fourth day my breathing returned to what felt like normal and I felt tired but recovered.

Little did I realise… That night I felt my bowels announce that they were going to do something spectacular.  I got out of bed and just made it to the lavatory.  It felt like the entire contents of my intestines fell out in about one tenth of a second.  I went back to bed and noticed I was becoming very short of breath.  I worried about whether I should call and ambulance or die in bed.  I felt that bad.  Fortunately, I decided to call the ambulance, 999 this time not 111.  I couldn’t be bothered packing a bag so I pulled on some clothes, picked up my phone and waited for the ambulance.

The crew arrived and put me on board.  They ran the same checks as the time before. Heart rate… high.  Dissolved oxygen in my blood… low.

“Let’s get you back to hospital,” the paramedics were reassuring.  I knew that hospital was where I needed to be.

The checks in the hospital were the same, with the same results except the chest X-ray.  “I’m afraid you’ve got pneumonia” said the doctor.  “We’ve also just got the results of the swab and you’re positive for coronavirus. We need to get you on the ward.”

I knew I was going to be looked after.  That’s another story.  (Part 2 to follow)