The country is in another lockdown. Schools have adapted – remarkably well – to remote learning. Even parent’s evening is being held virtually. Learning looks very different to how I thought it would be by this point in the pandemic. I think we all had that slither of hope that that we’d be back to some kind of normal by now.
But, like it or not, we’ve been forced to adapt. Teacher or not, many of us have turned to remote working. I’ve already discussed my first thoughts on teaching from home, but that wouldn’t have been possible without a solid desk setup. Here’s the rig that’s been getting me through remote learning.
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The daily driver
My daily driver has been a five-and-a-half-year-old laptop from HP. It served me well for the four years I undertook at University but, with only 8GB of RAM, it’s past its best. There have been a few instances where a live lesson has crashed and I’ve had to quickly switch over to an iPad to continue the lesson, but that’s not to say I wouldn’t recommend it. HP offers a solid line-up of laptops, and lots of them come with touch screens too – so handy when used in school alongside Google Jamboard! This is the one I would personally opt for if I were to upgrade mine: https://amzn.to/3u2B5PG
The second screens
Despite its huge bezels, my 27-inch monitor more often functions as a second screen than a TV, which has been invaluable for dedicating a whole display to screen-sharing, making the picture much easier for the kids to view. I did have to adjust the screen resolution, meaning the setup looks a little janky, but it works – and that’s the main thing. These days, you can buy dead cheap monitors to connect to your device these days: https://amzn.to/37gKmJX
Pictured above is what I’ll call my iPad/third screen. These were supplied by the school with the intention of them being used in the classroom, but it’s proved invaluable during lockdown for tracking student engagement and learning. We can now even use it as a substitute for SIMS, so that awarding credits for excellence needn’t stop just because we’re no longer in school. You can buy your own iPads here (I’d recommend anything but the Pro model if you’re only planning to use it for work-based purposes): https://amzn.to/3dehDth
The stylus also came with the iPad and, in short, I really like it. You can buy that here, or you may want to wait until I’ve reviewed it in full later in the year: https://amzn.to/3ubDFmy
The ultimate accessory
Where would I be without this keyboard? It’s foldable, big enough for my huge hands, lightweight and easy to transport. I can pair it to two devices at once, making remote working a dream. What’s not to love?
The keyboard is a little pricey these days, so I’d opt for a larger, less foldable version if you’re hoping to do much working with a tablet. But if you fancy treating yourself, find it here: https://amzn.to/3plKnmb
The way in the dark
I was given this as a gift for my birthday last year, and it’s been brilliant so far. This is a three-colour lamp, with multiple brightness settings, a clock and indoor thermometer. Oh, and did I mention that the base doubles as a wireless charger? So cool!
With an adjustable arm, I can move the light about to shine brightest on any piece of work that I’m struggling to see. Invaluable. I can’t find my exact model, but there are loads of really affordable alternatives: https://amzn.to/3dgvNdl
Despite having decent speakers, I much prefer using a pair of Sony headphones when teaching from home. They’re noise cancelling, which is perfect when I’m not the only one working from home, and my voice carries over Google Meet really well. The other day, a student even commended me for having a headset as a teacher – so that’s a win! They’re also really affordable: https://amzn.to/3jXYe0X
Finally, I’ve got 5 pen colours (blue, red, green, purple and black) for mixing up marking, a whiteboard to help with tracking monthly tasks and engagement, a standard Microsoft mouse and an in-and-out tray. All good stuff for staying organised. Oh, and a giraffe chamois for ensuring that my screen stays in tip-top shape.
I’ve actually made a few upgrades since writing this blog post, so stay tuned for my NEW and PRODUCTIVE teaching-from-home-setup, coming soon.