EPAA in Lockdown
It is now over 5 weeks since classes were last held at the Imperial Hall. In some ways it’s hard to believe it’s so long, in others it seems like a lifetime since we were last there. That last lesson, knowing that, more than likely, it would be the last for who knows how long. That strange feeling of packing everything away, but taking things home I might need before being able to go back (annoyingly, I didn’t think to bring home one of my many pairs of tap shoes – I’m so tempted to order some). This was a time before ‘Zoom’ was widely known, online classes weren’t really thought of and it felt a bit like that was that, at least for the time being.
Fast-forward a week and a half, and zoom was now downloaded on to many a phone, tablet and laptop. Meetings and classes were being set up left, right and centre. In some cases people were actually now having to turn down meetings due to prior arrangements, all without even leaving their homes! This world has scarily quickly become the norm. Logging on to watch Facebook and Instagram Live sessions, joining Zoom meetings, watching filmed tutorials via YouTube was fast becoming an everyday activity in most households.
So, how does this affect me and EPAA? Primarily, we have a means to communicate, to see each other, to keep in touch. In some ways, I find this more important than the dancing, singing or drama. Of course, I don’t want students to be regressing, and would love to see progress being made at home, but the last thing I want is for classes to be an added stress in an already very strange and stressful time. In all honesty, that goes for me too.
I am currently living alone. Due to being identified as someone in the high-risk category who needs to ‘shield’, Noah is staying at his dad’s house for the foreseeable future. Because of situations like these, we have all come to be so grateful for the video-calling technology available to us. You might think that this means I have all the time in the world to prepare for classes, and, I suppose it does, but having nobody to bounce ideas off, talk to (or at), in those moments when a thought pops into your head, or seeing a real life reaction to a class can put a real strain on creativity and productivity and mental health in general. This is why I completely understand why some children are just not feeling like joining in with the online classes. Life has been turned upside-down for us all and, while some children find the classes give a sense of normality, for some it may well reinforce the fact that things are very different.
I can genuinely say hand on heart, that class times are a real highlight of my week. Sometimes, I really don’t feel like loading up Zoom and starting the meetings but, once we get going, it’s an escape from the world, I’m smiling, I’m not worrying. Despite being a completely different set up, and the occasional lagging issues, and difficulty keeping in time to the music over varying network connections, it’s just like being back in class (with the added bonus of being able to mute the students!).