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Life During Covid-19
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A mosaic of community stories about life during Covid-19

 

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Lisa Cooper (LGB teacher)

Posted By Alumni Office, lundi, 25 mai 2020
Lisa Cooper What do you teach and how long have you been at Ecolint?
I am actually an ex-Ecolint student. I was at Pregny first and then came to LGB in Year 4 and did all my schooling through to year 13.
I have taught at LGB for about 30 years now, having taught from Reception to year 6, and even Drama for Years 10 and 11 during the 90's. I am currently teaching Year 2 in Les Marronniers.

What has been your greatest challenge as a teacher, in facing the coronavirus pandemic?
One of the big challenges was how abruptly it all happened, and with a lot of our teaching material stocked in our classrooms, we didn't have much to work with. However we had many ideas and set about creating work using a program/app called Seesaw which we had already been using in the classroom so the children were familiar with it.
The other big challenge was learning how to use all the software needed to make everything accessible to the students, like organising google meets, creating links, thousands of emails and phone calls back and forth between my other Year 2 colleagues, parents struggling with how to access and use the material, making sure all the children were pursuing some/all of the school work and the constant search for more material which I couldn't get from my classroom.

What have you learned during this time?
Initially it was tough keeping everything afloat; it was a real learning curve for both parents and myself. However, with time, parents seemed to settle as did I, and we all found a routine which seemed to function for all parties involved. 
I slowly began to notice the quality of the work that the children were submitting was improving and a lot of effort was clearly being put into what they were learning.
As strange as this sounds, I feel that a lot of the children have actually benefited from learning away from school. There have been no time constraints for them, everything could be done in their time. If parents felt like their child needed a break they were able to have it and continue their learning later. The children also had many fewer distractions than in the classroom and one-to-one help if they needed it from their parents, which created a very safe and calm environment to work in.

How do you think Covid will change teaching primary school students?
With the return to school on 11 May, I will approach the way I structure my time with the children in the classroom differently, though with a timetable that chops the day into various lessons, it can be quite difficult to let time flow as leisurely as at home.
With the Covid-19 threat unfortunately still around, we will have to try and maintain social distancing and therefore the set up in the classroom will have to change as will the simple routines for washing hands and eating lunch or being in the cloakroom together. Hopefully we will all be able to learn the simple routines to keeping healthy quickly and will be able to resume a happy, relaxed classroom with a lot of learning happening.

A word of advice to your former students?
My word of advice would be that ultimately, even if you are a little less active with your learning and your school work, what I believe is more important at this time, is for everyone to be happy, content and relaxed in whatever they are trying to do. In the grand scheme of things, a little hiccup in their school attendance which will have lasted two months of their lives, will not have an enormous impact on any student's academic learning. However the vibe and atmosphere at home and the time that they will have spent with their parents and siblings, will definitely carry more memories of these few months in 2020 than any school assignment ever will.

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Beatrice Hoesli (La Chât teacher)

Posted By Alumni Office, lundi, 25 mai 2020
Beatrice Hoesli

What do you teach and how long have you been at Ecolint?
I have been teaching Visual Arts at Ecolint since January 1987… believe it or not… this is for 33 years now and for the past 15 year I am also one of the University and Career Counsellors at La Châtaigneraie.

What has been your greatest challenge as a teacher, in facing the coronavirus pandemic?
The distance, the sudden change of style. My greatest challenge has been the well-being of my students and being able to help them learn, but from a distance. What I mean is that in Visual Arts feedback, formative evaluation, is the essence. With the distance, it is more difficult, as you cannot really “see and feel” students’ reactions. All feedback needs to be even more positive and effective than usual. Being physically away from my students, talking to them at fixed time, but virtually, not being able to quickly see them in between classes has been difficult, but it works, believe me, it does work. One has just have to be even more understanding and positive as usual, which you can understand, is heavy.

What have you learned during this time?
Tons of digital stuff. Living with less, making do with less. Telling students how to be creative, making inks and paints out of coffee, onion peel, making glue with flour, etc...  Strategies for keeping students engaged. Only seeing people virtually works as well, I was not convinced of that before.

How do you think the world of art will be affected by Covid?
I really believe this type of incredible situation fosters creativity. Our brain needs to cry out and create. People have been forced to live with what they have and make do with it. This is when creativity is enhanced. Just seeing the way so many people around the world have created a daily diary, photographing moments, empty spaces, looking at spaces, being bored. Not having enough to do enhances creativity. Virtual exchanges, social media, communication. Communication is greater these days than before. People have the need to exchange, to “see” and to “talk” to others, to “communicate” and people do so in a creative manner. I am sure the world of art is going to change after Covid, like the rest of the world and our lives.

A word of advice to your former students?
Stay creative, the way you have always been and the way you are!
Those who know me, please do keep in touch. You will never know how important you are/ have been to me, even if you were painfully difficult in Year 9 or 10. I work with teenagers and know they change. This is one of the great pieces of advice I can actually give. Have faith in people. 

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Georgia Gollogly (La Chât student)

Posted By Alumni Office, lundi, 25 mai 2020
Updated: lundi, 25 mai 2020
Georgia Gollogly How long have you been at Ecolint?
I’ve been at this school since Year 1, so almost 12 years this June! 

What has been your greatest challenge as a student, in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic?
My greatest challenge as a student dealing with the coronavirus pandemic has been the uncertainty and resultant stress of being isolated from my school community and no longer being sure of my path from high school to university. However, during this time my teachers have offered great support, and I have learnt that no matter the circumstance they will make sure we achieve our full potential and graduate into the world! 

How do you think Covid will change education (at Ecolint, and after Ecolint!) in the coming years?
I think this pandemic will change the way we structure time and the location of education; the idea that children should physically be in classrooms from 8 to 5, and that everyone has to commute at the same rush hours seems ridiculous now. 
A week before schools were closed in mid-March, I was out in Geneva with friends on a Thursday afternoon, when our classes finish earlier, and I remember us talking about how great it would be to sleep in and just do school from our bedrooms. It was a gorgeous sunny day, and we were crossing the lake on the pedestrian bridge. People were feeding the swans, biking across in colourful shirts, and hanging out in the blissful sunshine that turned the lake water turquoise. It was just a regular spring day for me… I was in no way ready for the world of freedom I knew to disappear so quickly and completely. 

A favourite TV show, book, piece of music, or song that you have discovered during this time?
Watching the evolution of this pandemic can be frightening, especially when it reveals the incompetence of certain politicians. I have started watching Seth Meyer’s Closer Look videos on Youtube, and leafing through my mother’s New Yorker magazines for the cartoons. I think both are excellent lighthearted commentaries on current events for anyone who needs a reason to smile. 

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Isla Gordon (Early Years Principal, Campus des Nations)

Posted By Alumni Office, mercredi, 20 mai 2020
Updated: mercredi, 20 mai 2020
Isla_Gordon

What is your role and how long have you been at Ecolint?
Currently I am the Early Years Principal at the Campus des Nations - Pregny site. I was also a student at La Châtaigneraie from 1980 to 1985  and joined Ecolint as a teacher in 1999. From 2004 to 2014 I had roles as Assistant Principal and PYP Coordinator, before becoming Principal at Pregny in 2017.

What has been your greatest challenge as a principal, in facing the coronavirus pandemic?
I think that each Ecolint family and staff member’s experience of COVID19 school closure has been unique. The school had to move to distance learning from one day to the next and staff had to adapt quickly to providing a new version of school for families. Families in turn had to adapt quickly to make time during their days to support their children at home, whilst often juggling other responsibilities, including professional ones.  In fact, many of our Ecolint staff had to teach from home whilst looking after young children. Though some enjoyed aspects of the confinement experience, it was also stressful for many.
As a school leadership team, we were not always aware of how people were getting on as we could not necessarily see, even virtually, our colleagues, students and families on a daily basis. It was challenging to know whether someone might need help or support. We did make sure we had a system for getting in touch with colleagues, particularly those living at home alone, as well as online ‘drop-in time’ for families.

What have you learned during this time?
I think we are still very much in the midst of learning to work and live with COVID-19 and there has been little time to stand back and fully reflect on what we have learnt! What I do know is that the team here at Pregny has been incredibly professional and I have witnessed how quickly as a staff we can respond, adapt and change in the face of a crisis. I was also initially concerned that the requirements for technology to cope with the demands for providing our remote learning programme might not work owing to the numbers across the globe needing to use it at the same time! However, I learnt that it was fine and we have seen how quickly our youngest of students have developed their skills in using it!

How do you think Covid-19 will change our education system?
Teaching IB programmes, ongoing investment in professional development, reflection, change and openness to new ideas has always been a constant at Ecolint.
With the impact of the recent COVID19 school closure, it is exciting to see discussions on online forums between educators talking about what schools should consider changing post-COVID.  IB exams this year were cancelled and students will still receive diplomas based on other aspects of their learning.
Just last week we reopened school and have had to re-organised our teaching teams, having each team focus on a specific group of students. We have also staggered the start and the end of the school day to allow for more fluidity for people arriving and leaving school at a time. We are providing ongoing options for distance learning for students who have had to stay at home. These are just some concrete examples of new experiences for us to consider that could become a new ‘normal’ for schools in the future.

Any new books, musicians, artists, or hobby you discovered and would recommend during this time?
At Pregny, we set up a ‘service minimum d’accueil’ for Ecolint children whose parents work in the healthcare field or had other COVID-19 related professional responsibilities. As well as supporting Pregny moving to remote learning, I also set up the service d’accueil, and hence spent my days at school. There was not much time left in a day to learn a new hobby, but I did enjoy getting into the garden to do some weeding and knitted a few hats whilst at home during the Spring school break!

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Cameron Byrom (La Chât student)

Posted By Alumni Office, mercredi, 20 mai 2020
Updated: mercredi, 20 mai 2020
Cameron Byrom

How long have you been at Ecolint?
I've been at Ecolint for 13 years.

What has been your greatest challenge as a student, in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic?
My greatest challenge as a student during COVID19 would involve remaining productive and keeping a positive mindset when thinking about and organising my future as a university student and adult.

What have you learned during this time?

Throughout quarantine, I have learned the importance of media and staying in contact with others as it is so easy to lose contact. 

How do you think Covid will change education (at Ecolint, and after Ecolint!) in the coming years?
I believe that COVID will change Ecolint in the sense that students will cherish little moments such as lunches and breaks all the way up to much larger scale occasions such as graduation. Often we take those things for granted but I believe that students will be playing outside much more, talking to teachers and socialising instead of keeping to themselves.

Since you're a musician, are there any songs or bands you think we should be listening to these days?
There are definitely many songs, bands and albums you could be listening to during this extended period of quarantine. As a well-taught musician of La Châtaigneraie, I have always been told to listen to everything and keep an open mind when it comes to music. This is why I suggest that everyone tries to listen to a new artist every day from different genres. Although it is important to keep listening to new things, it is also advised that you listen to what makes you feel good and brings your mood up. Here are some of my personal suggestions from different genres: 

        Pop / Alternative
        Twenty One Pilots - Level Of Concern (a song about quarantine)
        Declan McKenna - Why Do You Feel So Down
        Anderson Paak - Make It Better 
        Samm Henshaw - Broke
        
        Rap        
        Brass Tracks - Opposite Ways
        Kendrick Lamar - Alright (explicit)
        Kanye West - Everything We Need
        Makala - Savannah

        Rock / Alternative
        Lenny Kravitz - Dig In
        The Strokes - You Only Live Once
        Foals - The Runner
        Roosevelt - Losing Touch

        Jazz / Fusion
        Avishai Cohen Trio - Beyond
        Ashley Henry - The Mighty
        Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet - Big Rig Jones
        Billy Childs - Backwards Bop

        Reggae
        Raging Fyah - Rebel
        Bob Marley - Waiting In Vain
        Kiko Bun - Stay Bless
        UB40 - Red Red Wine

And last but not least, an album that I would suggest that everyone go listen to: Tom Misch & Yussef Dayes - What Kinda Music

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Catherine Newton (ESP teacher at Campus des Nations)

Posted By Alumni Office, mercredi, 20 mai 2020
Updated: mercredi, 20 mai 2020
Catherine Newton

What do you teach and how long have you been at Ecolint?
I have been working in the ESP at Campus des Nations since the school opened in 2005, and in the role of Lead Teacher of the Post-16 ESP since 2012. We currently have fifteen students from year nine to year thirteen in our programme.

What has been your greatest challenge as an ESP teacher, in facing the coronavirus pandemic?
My main concern has been the safety and well-being of our students as well as ensuring that the staff in the team are comfortable and confident with the new working conditions. Many of our students find change difficult, so this has certainly tested their ability to cope in different situations and learning environments. They have, however, managed remarkably well and they, like us, have developed new skills and ways of working. We look upon our students as part of the Post-16 ESP family, so what has been difficult for us as a team is having three year thirteen students complete their schooling abruptly. This year we have not had the possibility to prepare them well for this transition and complete the course of life skills and preparation for their next steps that we usually do. 

What have you learned during this time?
I have seen that young people with additional learning needs can adapt to new situations surprisingly well and they have remained positive and cheerful throughout. I have learned the importance of personal connection and how much I have missed the students and colleagues, it’s just not the same by Google Hangouts! 

How do you think Covid will change our education system, specifically for ESP programmes?
We have all seen the importance of interactions and relationships during this time, and where these have not been able to take place in person, we have needed to make sure that we connect in other ways. The strength of the ESP teams are not only our personal connections with the students and families, but also our flexibility and creativity and having the ability to adapt lessons according to each student's need.

Any words of wisdom as schools slowly start up again? 
Kindness is the first word that comes to mind and a deep compassion for our fellow humans. We have seen that, as communities, we have developed a realisation that we must watch out for and nurture our most vulnerable citizens. In school we hope that all students and staff retain this spirit of looking out for their classmates and colleagues. We have also seen the benefits to our environment of “having a little rest”, therefore we should ensure that the more positive side-effects of this terrible virus are maintained.

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Meghna Anand (LGB student)

Posted By Alumni Office, mercredi, 13 mai 2020
Meghna Anand

How long have you been at Ecolint?
I've been at Ecolint for almost six years.

What has been your greatest challenge as a student, in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic?
My greatest challenge as a student in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic has been managing my time. Whenever I have something I need to do I think to myself, "I have time now. I can do it later," and I get stuck doing the minimum at the last minute. I think I'm getting better at it, though. I've started to find a rhythm. 

What have you learned during this time?
I've learned how to better interact socially with other people online and make sure I keep reaching out to people to make sure I stay in touch with them.

How do you think Covid will change education (at Ecolint, and after Ecolint!) in the coming years?
I think this experience has made everyone more comfortable with technology, and it will probably lead to teachers using more online teaching resources in the future.

A favourite TV show, book, piece of music, or song that you have discovered during this time?
Since school closed, I started listening to music by a band called Screaming Females, and they are now one of my favorite bands. 

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Alexandra Juniper (Campus des Nations teacher)

Posted By Alumni Office, mercredi, 13 mai 2020
Updated: mercredi, 13 mai 2020

 

Alexandra Juniper answers the following questions on video:

What do you teach and how long have you been at Ecolint?
What has been your greatest challenge as a teacher, in facing the coronavirus pandemic?
What have you learned during this time?
How do you think Covid will change our education system?
A word of advice to your former students?

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Mandy Thomas (La Chât parent)

Posted By Alumni Office, mercredi, 13 mai 2020
Updated: mercredi, 13 mai 2020
Mandy Thomas

In what year are your children at Ecolint?
Years 5, 7 and 9.

How has your everyday life changed since the lockdown was put into place?
Everything has changed. Five of us together in the house trying to find enough quiet space for my husband’s never ending calls and the kids being homeschooled. We’ve moved desks into the lounge and dining room so they are not isolated in bedrooms. I teach yoga and have moved my classes online and changed my class times so I can supervise online learning.
And of course with 5 people home the food shopping, cooking, cleaning etc is never-ending. We are sharing household chores including the deep house clean and bed-changing. My kids have certainly learned new skills - like how to clean a toilet - but not without some moaning! We have tried to insist on outside and exercise time and tried to limit screens but this gets increasingly difficult. In the last couple of weeks the kids have been seeing one or two friends outside  to try and increase their physical activity and give them at least a small social outlet.

What has been your greatest challenge as a parent during this time?
I
t's a long list but at the top is trying to support schooling without falling into the role of school police. It continues to be difficult and schoolwork sometimes becomes a bone of contention and somebody falls apart a bit. (Or perhaps it's just an excuse to fall apart a bit!) The other huge challenge is getting them to move and be physical. They all did 4-5 sport sessions per week plus PE and cycling to school before lockdown. It is so much less than that now, just when they need it the most and it is getting harder each day to motivate them. We’ve just come up with physical challenges with financial bonuses for the month of May!

What have you learned that you would like to see carried through beyond confinement?
In some ways I think we have all enjoyed the slower pace - less rushing around in general, although we desperately miss many of the things we normally rush to!  Getting into nature pretty much every day has been vital. We already did that regularly but with even more requirement to get out after all the time inside on screens - it has become a vital lifeline to our mental health and general sanity.  And we have appreciated the lack of cars and incredible birdsong.

What do you think about remote schooling, and are there parts of it that should continue after confinement?
I think school has done a great job - remarkable given the speed of the lockdown. But for us, the whole experience has highlighted the parts of physical school that can’t be replaced. The kids need each other. They need to play and touch and move physically. They need group activities. They need interactive learning (some subjects/ teachers have done this better than others) and someone checking in, supporting and holding them to account. And most of all, sitting on a screen all day is exhausting and is not positive for anyone's mental and physical health. At the end of the day there is a general malaise.
And this is when we miss organised physical activity the most. Receiving lessons online seems to make it easier to disengage, to not ask questions, to not finish the work, to do less rather than more. Perhaps we have found some new tools - like Razzkids in primary - and my kids are certainly managing online fora like seasoned executives. But I don’t want them to be like seasoned executives. They are kids! Overall I have seen the losses more than the gains. 

Any thoughts on how the pandemic might impact people's views on family life, teaching, and school? 
Despite the shared circumstance I do believe we are all experiencing things differently depending on our family situation and roles. The fear to re-engage in society right now surprises me. Although I’m not critical of that, given how many unknowns remain.
For our own family I think it has reinforced that at this age (especially 14 and 11) the kids should be out there exploring the world, developing their independence and learning with friends. Much as I love having them around and doing things together more, this has not been easy for them. It has firmly reminded us that school offers so much more than ‘just’ academic learning. And however well this is delivered at a distance the kids are missing all the other aspects of the experience. We are looking forward to the return in whatever shape it can take. 

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Riham Youssef (LGB parent)

Posted By Alumni Office, vendredi, 8 mai 2020
Updated: jeudi, 7 mai 2020
Sarah Hathorn

In what year are your children at Ecolint?
I have twins who go to two Reception classes at LGB. 

How has your everyday life changed since the lockdown was put into place?
It has been turned upside down!
Life had been tough on me as it is, being a single mother of twins who works full-time in a foreign country without any support network whatsoever. I was barely coping even before the lockdown. But then to find myself overnight responsible for the children 24/7, taking care of every aspect of their lives all by myself and still getting my work for the UN and my housework done was intolerable and it has been affecting me physically and emotionally. I'm racing against time every day, sleeping no more than 4-5 hours a night and am still not getting things done.  

What has been your greatest challenge as a parent during this time?
Being the perfectionist that I am, I'm constantly frustrated by the fact that I'm giving it my absolute best and am working my absolute hardest, but it's still not enough! Despite my best intentions and efforts, nothing is done the way it's supposed to be. And it's breaking my heart to see my children, who are otherwise extremely energetic and active, feeling bored, asking me if I could take them out, even for a short walk, but I've often had to turn them down because of work or other deadlines that I was desperately trying to meet.

What have you learned that you would like to see carried through beyond confinement?
I discovered that my children are more mature and responsible than I have ever given them credit for. Since the beginning of the confinement, I have been entrusting them with additional duties around the house, which they are carrying out impressively well. Who would have thought?     

What do you think about remote schooling, and are there parts of it that should continue after confinement?
I don't enjoy the remote schooling experience, though I know it's the best that could be done for the children under the circumstances. And the teachers are doing a superb job to help the twins and help me whenever I need their pedagogical guidance or technical support.
Having said that, parents are not qualified teachers, and, no matter how hard they try, they just don't have what it takes, nor do they have the time for this huge additional responsibility that has been suddenly thrown on their shoulders without them having any say in it. In my particular case as a mother of two 5-year-olds, I find it especially tough to be drowning with responsibilities, and yet to sing and dance and jump around, and to come up with creative ways to complete the arts and crafts assignments for example, while being in a completely different mindset.  

Any thoughts on how the pandemic might impact people's views on family life, teaching, and school?
The pandemic has made me more appreciative of them all: I appreciate my children, their health and well-being, and I don't take either of them for granted, because I've come to realise how volatile and unpredictable everything really is. What we have now could be snatched away from us unexpectedly, so I've learned to appreciate everything I have while it lasts, especially my children who are the most beautiful thing in my life.
And I've really come to appreciate the school and my children's teachers even more, because I've seen firsthand what an extremely difficult job they're doing. Struggling this much with "just" two children makes me appreciate the numerous things those teachers have achieved with 15 children in their care.  

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