Who’s Zoomin’ who?

How has technology changed your job?

I am a teacher, and I have been doing the job for long enough to remember The Old Days before online learning. If I, or the students, were out of school, we were not expected to catch up with each other in real time; it was perfectly fine to wait until we were all back at school again. I have especially fond memories of February 2009 when we had not one but TWO Snow Days, back to back, and I was able to just stay at home and do nothing.

Now, with the use of Zoom, Google Classroom and all the rest, a day off is no longer a day off. Throughout lockdown, I taught live, online lessons all day, with varying levels of success. And the main factor determining that level of success was Louis Catorze.

Catorze loves visitors, and I truly think he noticed the difference during lockdown when people stopped coming to the house. It is perhaps not surprising, then, that the shrill adolescent voices emanating from my laptop drew him like iron to a magnet. Once he knew that he would elicit a reaction by presenting himself to the kids and screaming at them in front of the camera, that was it. And there was one class in particular that he harassed more than others: my all-male Year 11 group, during the graveyard shift of last period on a Thursday.

Wherever Catorze was in the house or garden, somehow he knew when it was 3:10pm and time for the lesson to start. He would appear, stick his face into the camera and scream absolute bloody murder, causing the kids to abandon any vague semblance of work and even, on one occasion, causing THEIR cats to respond to the racket by screaming back.

During an online staff meeting, he even retrieved a bell toy from under the sofa, which he appeared to have hidden there for this very purpose, and messed around with it on our wooden floorboards. Merci à Dieu for the MUTE button.

For me, it was a blessed relief to return to school and resume normal lessons. But I know that my students missed Catorze, just as I missed seeing their (much better-behaved) cats and dogs. My favourite was Tobo (“like “hobo” but with a T, Miss”), an enormous, long-haired cat so fluffy that, when he was picked and held up to the camera, I could only see the kid’s knuckles and the top of his head.

This was the face that greeted my students – especially my Year 11s – during lockdown. (Yes: for added comedy value, Catorze spent a couple of months of lockdown in a cone.) It’s a wonder any of those kids managed to get any work done that year.

“Just ignore the screaming vampire cat, kiddos.”
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11 thoughts on “Who’s Zoomin’ who?

  1. mcmcneil1 says:

    Glad to see Louis and his fangs again. My internet went out April 12 and has just been restored today, so I have gotten behind in following your adventures.

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