Maureen Birkett has been a CAFOD primary schools volunteer for over 12 years and she shares with us her recent new experience of making her first virtual schools visit this term.
Well I’ve finally done it! After months of listening to the distant talk of ‘virtual visits’ I finally got the email:
“One of your schools has requested a virtual visit.”
Not wishing to be daunted by this I immediately took up the challenge and made, what was to be, my first mistake. I instantly bombarded the school for information and admitted I had not actually done one before. Communication suddenly went dead but I had learned my lesson.
Sophia is a Gap Year Volunteer with CAFOD and shares with us some of what she has experienced over the past few months.
This academic year I am taking part in Step Into the Gap, CAFOD’s gap year programme. In a usual year, I would be working with schools or in a retreat centre and we would be taking an international trip. The times being what they are, I am working from home doing tasks for the education section, and there is no international trip.
Yet, sometimes a loss can be a gain: instead of focusing on learning solely about the country that we are due to visit, we have instead been meeting a country representative or programme officer from a different country each month, which is giving us a fuller picture of CAFOD’s extensive work around the world. This Lent, I shall be sharing some reflections from these calls.
In the event the school set up the Zoom invitation and shared screen to allow the PowerPoint to be shown and it was no different to joining all the other Zoom meetings we have become so accustomed to over the last year. There were a few glitches at the beginning from the school’s end but they sorted it out quickly and the assembly went ahead with each class of the children who were in school watching from their own classroom.
The advantages were that I could do it from my own sofa with no travelling and getting lost trying to find the school for once. Also it was slightly easier to concentrate on the script and be word perfect when not in front of a live audience. However it is not so easy to be interactive and each time I asked a question our contact had to ask a year group to unmute themselves to answer the question. She felt the children who were in school enjoyed it as it was something different from what they have been doing.
On balance I am looking forward to returning to in person visits to allow for better interaction with the children and staff, but virtual visits are a great way of maintaining contact when this is not possible.