It is 12.30pm here in Redbridge, north-east London, and I am about to start teaching my first English lesson of the day to a group of primary pupils at Paysandú 45 in Uruguay.
I am one of 10 teachers at Video Conferencing for Global Learning (VCfGL), assisting in English teaching using high-quality video-conferencing technology. We currently work with hundreds of schools across Uruguay, Brazil and Africa.
I greet my level 1 class with “good morning” and a big smile, as I hold up Coco the class teddy bear. The children, aged 8 to 9, reply in chorus, “Good morning, Naza and Coco.” They are sitting behind their desks, proudly wearing white shirts and navy-blue bow ties.
I grab my remote control and point at the HD camera on top of my screen. I press the zoom button to control the camera in the classroom, so I can see the teacher, Leticia, who speaks to me in Spanish. We are on lesson 12 of a 30-week English course, put together by Plan Ceibal, a Uruguayan initiative to implement a one-to-one model for ICT in primary public education. I teach the first lesson out of three and support Leticia in the two lessons of English that she teaches on her own.
To get the lesson started, I share my laptop screen with the children and play a video that they are familiar with: we call it “the hello song”. After we sing together, I use the visualiser connected to the video-conferencing hardware to share images and words from a storybook about animals. The children see my hand as I point to the words and the illustrations in the book, as if I was right there in Paysandú with them. Thirty minutes later, I say goodbye and disconnect the call. I have 10 minutes to prepare for my next class, Tacuarembó 145, also in Uruguay.
I am the coordinator for all the remote teachers at VCfGL, so during my lunch break (at 4pm) I email class teachers support for the next lessons and grab a healthy snack. I catch a glimpse of Annette, one of my colleagues, teaching young girls conversation classes in Tanzania, and another colleague, Debbie, teaching English to children in São Paulo, Brazil. We are a creative bunch, and Annette and Debbie always have great teaching ideas to share.
By 9pm, I have taught my last English class. It is winter holidays next week, so the children in Uruguay have a week off, which means I will also get a break.
I love my job because even though I am 5,000 miles away, I still recognise all the children. I know their behaviours, personalities and abilities, and form a similar relationship with them as if I were there in Uruguay.
I love that I now get to work in London – for me, the best city in the world – and can still travel home to see my family in beautiful Cádiz, Spain, any time I want.
For more information on VCfGL and their work, visit www.vcfgl.co.uk
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