Online Work

Taking the Edinburgh Fringe’s Madcap Energy Online – The New York Times

LONDON — David Chapple began planning his trip to the 2020 Edinburgh Festival Fringe a year ago, since you can’t be too prepared when you hold the world record for the most Fringe performances attended in one season.

Having seen a record-breaking 304 shows in 27 days in 2014, he was planning another Fringe viewing marathon this year for his wife’s 60th birthday. But in early April, the event — the world’s largest arts festival — was canceled for the first time in its 73-year history, because of the coronavirus.

For Chapple, a civil servant who estimates that he spends half of his income on watching live comedy and keeps chickens named after British stand-up comedians, it was devastating. “Edinburgh is everything, really,” he said. “It’s the focal point of our year.”

ImageDavid Chapple, a record-setting Edinburgh Fringe attendee, with the comedian Jayde Adams at the 2018 festival. 
Credit…Steve Best

The festival’s cancellation has been a big blow to long-term fans — and to the 30,000 performers who travel to the Scottish city each August to show their work. To fill the gap, some artists have gone online to try to capture the anarchic, diverse and somewhat overwhelming experience of being at the Fringe.

Among them is Francesca Moody, a London-based theater producer who took the original stage version of “Fleabag to the Fringe in 2013 and had planned to stage three plays in Edinburgh this month.

When the festival was called off, her fellow theater-maker Gary McNair joked that he would have to stage a “Shed Fringe” from his garden instead — a pun that “set cogs whirring” in Moody’s producer brain. Six weeks ago, she came up with Shedinburgh, an online festival of comedy and drama that streams live from a garden shed for three weeks starting on Friday.

In fact, there are two sheds, each measuring six feet by eight feet: one onstage at London’s Soho Theatre, the other at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh. Both venues have been closed since March, when the British government ordered theaters to shut to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Credit…Richard Lakos

Setting up the sheds inside is a nod to the questing spirit of the Fringe, which takes over every corner of the city of Edinburgh each August, transforming pubs and gardens, gyms, parking lots and lecture theaters into performance spaces.

“The cancellation of the Fringe has left a massive hole,” said Moody, who has attended the festival for 17 years. “This is an opportunity to acknowledge how magical the festival is, how important it is to me and to a lot of the artists who have had success there.”

Thanks to social distancing rules and space restrictions, the “Shed-ule” is dominated by one-person shows, from artists like Jack Rooke, Deborah Frances-White and Tim Crouch. Audiences will watch on Zoom after donating at least 4 pounds ($5) per ticket, and profits will go toward a fund for artists aiming to stage a show at the Fringe next year.

Before planning was halted because of the pandemic, this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival had confirmed more than 2,200 shows from 48 countries in about 230 venues, said Rebecca Monks, a spokeswoman for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society. They were preparing for a similar-scale festival to last year’s, in which over 3,800 shows were staged and more than three million tickets were sold.

Credit…Karla Gowlett

Edinburgh is “the way that arts organizations, venues, TV production companies find new work — the fact that it doesn’t exist this year will have a significant impact,” said Moody, who knows how life-changing a successful Fringe can be.

When she and Waller-Bridge took “Fleabag” to a dank vault under Edinburgh’s George IV Bridge seven years ago, they raised money on Kickstarter, didn’t pay themselves, and gave away tickets for the first week to fill the 60-seater room. It became one of that year’s most talked-about shows, which led to a run at London’s Soho Theatre, where it caught the attention of the BBC’s head of comedy.

This year, such opportunities have essentially vanished. “For all those artists who were taking their first shot at the Fringe this year,” Moody said, “that work might never resurface, because they might not have the strong foundations, or the support, to carry on.”

Credit…Esme Allman

“Shedinburgh” is just one way theater makers are keeping the Fringe flame burning. Fringe on Friday is a weekly hourlong cabaret streaming from performers’ homes; Edinburgh Unlocked is a comedy festival in audiobook form from Penguin Random House, featuring 15-minute sets from stand-ups whose shows were canceled; Zoo TV is offering on-demand streaming of past Edinburgh performances; and Fringe of Colour is screening daily films by artists of color.

Corrie McGuire, a comedy producer and agent who has staged the raucously interactive midnight show “Spank!” at the Edinburgh Fringe for the past 15 years, estimates that her agency lost £60,000 “overnight” when the theaters closed in March. A quarter of that would have come from Edinburgh.

Last week, she staged the first online “Spank!” with the stand-up comedians Lauren Pattison and Emmanuel Sonubi performing from their bedrooms; Magical Bones, a break-dancing magician, doing tricks in his kitchen; and Vikki Stone singing songs from her attic.

To combat the “Zoom fatigue” that many people are feeling amid the plethora of online events and meetings during the pandemic, McGuire said, she created a virtual front row in which 10 audience members could volunteer to “sit up front” and have their microphones taken off mute so that performers could hear their reactions.

“Being able to have people from all over the world watching the same gig gave it real Edinburgh energy,” she added.

Credit…Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

The comedian Mark Watson — who made his name in 2004 with a 24-hour comedy gig in a basement in Edinburgh’s Old Town — has embraced the festival’s madcap, have-a-go, collaborative essence more than most, over 20 years of performances.

Having staged a number of marathon shows, Watson now plans to host a 24-hour Fringe gig from his sofa in south London at the end of the month to raise money for comedians whose livelihoods were flattened by the pandemic.

His plan, which he describes as “insanely ambitious,” is to recreate the feel of the monthlong festival in a day — its “general mayhem and the wild outpouring of ideas” — by hosting the gig on the livestreaming platform Twitch, with guest spots from well-known comedians and newer talents.

The Fringe is a sort of “state of the nation for comedy,” Watson said.

“I don’t think we can let something like the Fringe die,” he added. “It’s gone for now, but the spirit of it needs to stay alive — for good.”

Online Work

Strategies for Engaging Students in ‘Meaningful’ Online Learning Experiences – Education Week

(Today’s post is the first in a three-part series.)

The new question-of-the-week is:

What are effective instructional strategies to use when teaching an online class?

This new series continues a 25-post “blitz” that began on Aug. 1 supporting teachers as we enter a pandemic-fueled school year.

You can see all the posts from this month, as well as the 60 from the spring, at All Classroom Q&A Posts on the Coronavirus Crisis.

Today, Doug Fisher, Nancy Frey, Gina Laura Gullo, and Vivian Micolta Simmons share their suggestions.

A framework for designing learning experiences

Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey are professors of educational leadership at San Diego State University and teacher leaders at Heath Sciences High.  They are the authors, with John Hattie, of The Distance Learning Playbook, published by Corwin:

This column is not about tools and apps, even though those are important considerations in online teaching.  Instead, we would like to focus on ways to engage students in meaningful learning experiences.  Naturally, this will require tools and apps, but that’s not our focus here.  As we have observed over 70 teachers rapidly move to distance teaching, we noted a pattern in the ways that they engaged students.  Lessons were no longer contained in an hourlong block (or two-hour literacy block).  Instead, time became more fluid.  Thus, we had to rethink an instructional model that would accommodate this change.  We modified the gradual release of responsibility framework for online distance learning.  We believe that there are four categories that are useful in designing learning experiences, all of which center around the learning expectations. 

  1. Demonstrating. The first area that we’ll explore we call demonstrating. What do students need to see or experience from their teachers? What modeling, worked examples, or think-alouds would help?  This is where students receive input and information but with the thinking provided.  It’s not simply a lecture (it can be recorded or live) but rather a demonstration of the cognitive or metacognitive skills students need to develop.  We particularly like tools that allow students to be assessed on the information provided during demonstrations, such as PlayPosit, which allows teachers to quiz students about the information in the video recording.  We encourage teachers to allow students to watch segments again if they do not respond correctly to the questions.  We have learned that frequent, low-stakes assessments are more likely to keep students engaged in learning online.
  2. Collaborating. Student-to-student interaction is an important aspect of learning and should be integrated into online learning experiences. Unfortunately, too many online courses are piles of independent work with limited opportunities for interaction.  We particularly like the breakout-room function in Zoom.  We use protocols to hold students accountable for their interactions, such as Text Rendering in which students read a piece of text and then, in their groups, each share a significant sentence, then a significant phrase, and then a significant word.  They scribe these in Google Docs so that the teacher can see the progress of the groups.  Next,they discuss the patterns they noticed in their collective responses to determine what the text means.  We also like five-word summaries.  After reading, each student locates five summarizing words from the reading. Next, we place students in pairs in breakout rooms where they compare their lists and reach consensus on a revised set of five words. Then we collapse the rooms so that each pair joins another pair. Here they work as a foursome to reach consensus on a final list of five words that represent the group’s thinking.  Each student then individually completes a summary paragraph of the text using the final list of five words.
  3. Coaching and facilitating. This is commonly done in smaller groups and allows teachers to provide needed direct instruction or guided learning experiences.  From our experiences, these are often done in a synchronous environment so that the teacher can adjust to the needs of the students. Typically, this process begins with a question, either from the teacher or the students. Teachers can prompt and cue students, providing just enough support for students to experience cognitive demand. We are still looking for tools to do this.  Right now, this is the heavy lifting of teachers in online learning.
  4. Practicing. This provides students an opportunity to replicate and apply what they have learned. There is no shortage of independent tasks students can complete online. They can take quizzes, write papers, complete labs, and the like.  We also like tools such as Achieve3000 (Kidbiz, Empower) that provide students practice with reading while also receiving corrective feedback. This system assigns texts aligned with students’ current reading performance. This system adjusts upward as students demonstrate success in comprehending the texts.

There are an abundance of ways that teachers can engage students in meaningful learning experiences online. We find it useful to design these experiences with an instructional framework in mind so that each module or learning unit develops students’ understanding in an intentional way.


Modifying face-to-face instruction for a virtual setting

Gina Laura Gullo is an educational equity consultant with GLG Consulting and a researcher of unintentional bias and interventions that serve to lessen the impact of such biases. She also adjuncts and mentors in educational leadership at several Mid-Atlantic universities:

As the need for effective online instruction grows, teachers must learn new strategies to keep students engaged in learning. Several strategies for effective face-to-face instruction and classroom- management work in online settings as well. The list below provides several common in-person strategies teachers often implement to keep students engaged in instructional content with descriptions of how to use each in an online setting.

Strategies for Synchronous Learning:

  1. Think-Pair-Share: Teachers can use the breakout-room feature available in many video-conference formats, such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, to have students discuss learning in pairs or triads. To do this, set the program to randomly assign breakout rooms of two to three participants each and share a screen with the content for discussion and a timer during the breakout sessions.
  2. Proximity Control: While teachers cannot walk around the classroom in a virtual setting, they can highlight students or listen in during small groups. During full-group synchronous teaching, use the private chat feature to check in with students individually. When in breakout rooms, move between the rooms as the host to listen in to discussions.
  3. Random Responses: Teachers who typically select student names from a jar to see who answers the next question can do this using a numbered list of student names and a random number sequence generator. Call on students based on their number in the list using the order shown in the random sequence to keep students engaged and include the entire class.

Strategies for Asynchronous Learning:

  1. Learning Stations: When students cannot move around a classroom to visit different learning stations, they can participate in different learning activities during asynchronous learning in a self-chosen order. Provide online content that includes several activities but allow students to select the order of the activities. For example:
    • Station 1: Vocabulary Matching Game can help students develop academic vocabulary and language.
    • Station 2: E-text Chapter can continue reading development and offer direct instruction. Many also offer “essential questions” to guide student reading.
    • Station 3: Learning Modules offer adaptive learning that often include formative assessment and targeted feedback.
    • Station 4: Virtual Museum Tour offers a field experience and nonlinguistic learning on a topic.
  2. Inquiry-Based Learning: While inquiry-based learning remains difficult asynchronously, the “flipped classroom” format offers a tool for offering a level of inquiry in the classroom. Provide students with topics to research online during asynchronous class time that are required prior to synchronous class time. Then, use this learning to guide a collaborative discussion where students serve as “experts” on each topic. After class, during asynchronous work, students can work together (virtually) or independently to merge learning during class with their inquiry topic and make sense of the content.
  3. Guided Note-Taking: Synchronous learning can offer the same note guides or graphic organizers that would be used in a traditional face-to-face setting. Rather than using these during teacher lecture, the guides can focus inquiry-based learning using the internet or streamline reading and summarization of text-based materials.

These strategies for effective online instruction reflect only a few of the face-to-face modalities that remain applicable with online instruction. While learning new instructional strategies remains critical to developing the best online learning environments, teachers can also use these familiar, time-tested instructional strategies to keep students effectively engaged in instruction.



Take a break”

Vivian Micolta Simmons was born in Colombia and has been in the U.S. for seven years. She has been a teacher for 14 years and is currently working as a ESL/DLI lead teacher for the Iredell-Statesville schools in N.C:

As a former DLI (dual-language immersion) teacher, ESL teacher for K-8, and recently becoming an ESL/DI lead teacher in the county, I teach students and work on administration duties as well. At school, the administration gave us directions to set up private Facebook pages (per grade level), which parents can only access by request. Teachers are using different resources to keep the learning going. For instance, some teachers are using the Facebook private page to post links to Zoom meetings. Some are posting links to sites like the Khan Academy, and others are creating videos ahead of time to teach a lesson.

Creating these videos has been both challenging and rewarding. At first, it wasn’t comfortable deciding what to do and how to contribute to online teaching. Also, given the new responsibilities, it was imperative to find a quick, useful way to teach to set up the daily routine. The answer was: video recording. QuickTime Player is an app that allows voice and screen recording. It is easy to preview vocabulary and work on listening, speaking, reading, and writing activities.

To sum it up, here are some important points to share:

– Even though times are difficult and uncertain, we are fortunate to have a job still and do what we love.  

– Be flexible with yourself and the students: think about the due dates set and the amount of information sent. Remote learning and teaching are new for ALL of us, and some families still do not have devices or internet service. Less is OK for now.

– Check in on students. A phone call can do wonders and will strengthen positive relationships.  

– Send frequent emails or announcements but do not overcommunicate. Keeping families informed is a must right now, but do not flood them with tons of information. It is not about quantity but quality.

– Stick to just one form of communication (email, ClassDojo, Class Tag, Talking Points, Facebook closed pages) to give parents and students a sense of consistency. 

– Start small and keep things manageable.

– Provide support and feedback for students. If unable to get hold of some families, communicate with the school administration to provide guidance.

– Watch tutorials, read blogs, or check out webinars (simple K12, Cassie Create abilities, Saddleback, Edmentum, Larry Ferlazo) if you need advice or work on your CEU credentials.

– Reach out to peers and ask for help if needed, simply to reach a consensus on what is working for others.

– Follow your school administrator’s guidance and ask for help when needed. We are all in this together. 

– Take a break and rest. Self-care is a must. Unplug from social media periodically and abstain yourself from reading negative stories online. 



Thanks to Doug, Nancy, Gina, and Vivian for their contributions!

Please feel free to leave a comment with your reactions to the topic or directly to anything that has been said in this post.

Consider contributing a question to be answered in a future post. You can send one to me at [email protected]. When you send it in, let me know if I can use your real name if it’s selected or if you’d prefer remaining anonymous and have a pseudonym in mind.

You can also contact me on Twitter at @Larryferlazzo.

Education Week has published a collection of posts from this blog, along with new material, in an e-book form. It’s titled Classroom Management Q&As: Expert Strategies for Teaching.

Just a reminder; you can subscribe and receive updates from this blog via email or RSS Reader. And if you missed any of the highlights from the first eight years of this blog, you can see a categorized list below. The list doesn’t include ones from this current year, but you can find those by clicking on the “answers” category found in the sidebar.

All Classroom Q&A Posts on the Coronavirus Crisis

This Year’s Most Popular Q&A Posts

Race & Gender Challenges

Classroom-Management Advice

Best Ways to Begin the School Year

Best Ways to End the School Year

Implementing the Common Core

Student Motivation & Social-Emotional Learning

Teaching Social Studies

Cooperative & Collaborative Learning

Using Tech in the Classroom

Parent Engagement in Schools

Teaching English-Language Learners

Reading Instruction

Writing Instruction

Education Policy Issues


Differentiating Instruction

Math Instruction

Science Instruction

Advice for New Teachers

Author Interviews

Entering the Teaching Profession

The Inclusive Classroom

Learning & the Brain

Administrator Leadership

Teacher Leadership

Relationships in Schools

Professional Development

Instructional Strategies

Best of Classroom Q&A

Professional Collaboration

Classroom Organization

Mistakes in Education

Project-Based Learning

I am also creating a Twitter list including all contributors to this column.

Online Work

Adventist Pastor Awarded Romania’s Order of Merit – Adventist Review

August 14, 2020

Corneliu Benone Lupu decorated as Knight for his work during the pandemic.

A Seventh-day Adventist pastor serving in Italy has been awarded Romania’s Order of Merit for his philanthropic work and community involvement during the current pandemic. Corneliu Benone Lupu, who serves the Seventh-day Adventist Romanian community in Italy, was appointed to the National Order of Merit with the rank of Knight, according to a decree signed by Romania’s president, Klaus Iohannis, on August 6, 2020. 

The recognition was shared with Athanasius of Bogdania, vicar bishop of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of Italy. According to the official release, both Romanian citizens working in Italy will be decorated “as a sign of great appreciation and gratitude for the solidarity and dedication shown in their intense social and philanthropic activity in favor of Romanian citizens living in the territory of the Italian Republic.” The government release added that the assistance work carried out by both members of the clergy “helped limit the impact that the current epidemiological crisis has had on the Romanian community and especially on vulnerable social groups.”

According to sources of the Romanian Orthodox Church, many Romanians working in Italy have a precarious financial situation. “The effects of the coronavirus crisis have brought them to the limit,” they said. Orthodox and Adventist congregations catering to Romanians in Italy have provided not only food but also medicines, hygiene products, and even cash to cover unpaid apartment rents.

In comments to Notizie Avventisti in Italy, Lupu said that it is a prize that he shares with many others. “This honor is not only mine but of all of the Roman churches and pastors who have worked together during this period.”

Lupu explained that it was awarded to him mainly for the work accomplished in these last months of the coronavirus emergency. “But we have always worked as a team, so the merit is [for] all of us, but above all for God, who accompanied and supported us. God is the only one who gets all the credit for everything we have accomplished,” he said.

The National Order of Merit is an honor of ancient tradition in Romania. Abolished after the communist revolution, it was restored by a public act in 2000. According to official sources, the two honors have been awarded under the “Order of Faithful Service.”

Lupu and his family have lived in Italy for years. He has served the Romanian-speaking Adventist communities of Turin and Rome. He is currently serving the Italian-speaking churches of Rome Lungotevere and Rieti and the Latin American community in the capital.

The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-European Division news site.

We reserve the right to approve and disapprove comments accordingly and will not be able to respond to inquiries regarding that. Please keep all comments respectful and courteous to authors and fellow readers.
Online Work

Being a postal worker during lockdown has shown me who really values our work – The Guardian

My duty begins with a long, tree-lined “dead walk”, so called at my office because there are only houses along one side of the street. Unlike the usual delivery loops, where you walk up one side of the road delivering to all the odd numbers, for instance, then cross over the road and deliver to the even numbers on the walk back to the van, dead-walking posties must return to their vans empty handed, alone with the thoughts about life, work and lockdown that busyness keeps at bay. My thoughts return to the crushing fatigue, and how much longer I can last in this job.

As lockdown began in south Wales, friends and family, stuck indoors, often asked me about life outside. Knowing how hard it has been for some, I’ve been quick to say that things are great: I’m paid to be outdoors several hours a day; the weather has been superb. Customers are never less than lovely: posters and messages of thanks are taped on to windows and doors, or chalked on to drives in bright colours; cold drinks are left on windowsills, and kids and their parents wave from front-room windows. Friends and family joke that they wish they could be me for a day.

The truth is, since lockdown started in March, my days begin with nausea. The job looks so good on paper, but the reality is barely tenable. Like many postal workers hired since privatisation and an increasing number of people in my office, I’m on a part-time contract with little to no chance of full-time hours. My annual take-home income, due to the part-time hours, is so low that I simply can’t pay the bills. Even before lockdown forced everyone indoors, causing a huge surge in online parcel deliveries, the workload was backbreaking. A colleague showed me his pedometer – he had walked 16 miles that day. Despite only being in his early 30s, he has received cortisone injections in his feet and shoulders to work through the pain. His situation is not uncommon; plantar fasciitis is endemic, and I see a lot of illness, injury and burnout.

Lockdown has only compounded this; despite a drop in letter volumes, the enormous increase in parcels is well in excess of what we handle at Christmas. This unrelenting work stress has brought new aches and pains, as well as bouts of insomnia, depression and disordered eating. I’ve moved through the summer in a high-functioning torpor, sleepless with stress-related stomach ache, and failing to convince myself that I’m coping. After four months of breakneck pace, postal workers and managers alike are exhausted and demoralised.

Before Covid-19 swept every other subject aside, all talk in my office was of the vote to strike won in January. Royal Mail Group has been dying a slow and painful death in the wake of privatisation, and the feeling on the ground has been one of uncertainty and fear of the future.

People’s suspicions seemed to be confirmed when, shortly following National Postal Workers Day on 29 April, Royal Mail announced it would cut Saturday letter deliveries as a temporary measure to cope with staff absence and self-isolation (the Communication Workers Union estimated that about 26,000 people, or 20% of staff, were off work at that time). This was presented as a way to ease pressure on postal workers but, in practice, made our jobs much harder. Our Saturdays were still brutal shifts full of parcels, only now we had to deliver twice as much mail on Mondays. The sheer volume of work required us to go in early, work at a manic pace, skip breaks and work overtime most days.

To many in my office, this move – which came to an end in June felt like a cynical ploy to undermine the universal service obligation (Royal Mail’s promise to deliver to every address in the land six days a week at a uniform price), and part of a larger scheme to sell off Parcelforce and leave the mail delivery business to rot, something the CWU fears could lead to thousands of job losses.

There is a problem in this country about the kinds of work we value. In Know Your Place, one of the writers, Andrew McMillan, laments “the idea that we should all be striving toward middle-class living” as “such a narrative means that working class becomes something you’re meant to not want to be … ” This is something I was reminded of in my interview. My manager was baffled as to why I’d want to take on such a physically demanding and relatively low-paid job; I have a degree from Cambridge, I read three languages, I’ve lived and worked all over the world. Surely, I’d want something “better”?

And I used to. I grew up on a council estate, was the first in my family to go to university, and felt a pressure to find a job commensurate with my skills and experience. I worked hard at various white-collar jobs in my 20s and early 30s, but, in spite of the good money, I felt unchallenged, unvalued and bored senseless once the learning curve had levelled off. When I found the postie job, I wanted something simple and stable. This was so condescending in hindsight, as well as indicative of those mixed feelings about being working class, as though it would be some low-stakes day job I could coast through while I worked out what I really wanted to do with my life. In truth, the job has proved to be a lot harder and a lot more fulfilling than I could have ever expected. I’m more content, grateful and satisfied after a day’s work than I ever thought possible.

This is why lockdown has been so heartbreaking. The pandemic has exposed how essential the services carried out by key workers are, and how callously the government has treated the working class at every stage of the crisis. According to data from the Office for National Statistics in May, the highest death toll has been among men in low-skilled jobs. My dad, a factory worker, returns to work in a few days. My siblings, who have screen-based jobs, will not. With the layoff of 2,000 Royal Mail managers announced in late June, as well as tens of thousands of jobs threatened at British Airways, British Gas, Rolls-Royce and a long list of household names, it’s hard to know what to expect.

The roads are refilling. As social distancing is relaxed life is returning to normal, although “normal” is only that which we’ve forgotten to notice. The Thursday night applause for NHS and key workers was encouraging, but awareness is not action. Unless we protect our essential workers over the coming months, confront issues of pay, precarious contracts and working conditions, we will lose this moment of solidarity and hope for change, and the chance to reconsider the kind of country we want to live in.

Dan Bradley is a writer and Royal Mail postal worker

Online Work

Don’t kill your lunch break because of COVID-19 — use it to advance your career – The Next Web

To say that 2020 has been a strange year is undoubtedly the understatement of the century.

As a result of COVID-19, we’ve had to change and adapt at lightning speed — in most cases swapping offices for spare rooms (if you’re one of the lucky ones), and kitchen tables (or beds) for desks.

These changes come with their own challenges. For example, struggling to stay focused and motivated when working remotely, dealing with countless video calls, and communicating effectively with peers and managers from a distance. The list goes on.

[Read: 7 tips on lockdown career advancement — for employees and managers]

Working from home can also mean you’re working longer hours and even though there’s plenty of literature to suggest that humans work more effectively when they take timely breaks, it seems that most workers are foregoing them.

A recent study by Liberty Games (also covered by Stylist) found that 41% of British people were likely to work through their lunch breaks while working remotely — and this isn’t OK.

Here’s why:

  • It’s your right. Unless your contract states otherwise, you’re entitled to a lunch break. Again, it depends on your agreement but most lunch breaks aren’t paid, so why on earth would you want to work for free for an hour each day? Remember you’re giving your employer 5 hours of your time every single week. FOR FREE.
  • It’s actually good for you. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that regular breaks are good for your concentration levels — and lunch, my friend, is no different.
  • You need to eat. It’s so easy to sit at your desk all day and forget to do so, but guess what: it’s not good for you. So, don’t do it. Get up, make something delicious, eat it, and savor it.

Try and be as organized as you can. So, meal plan for the week and if you’re able to, make your lunch the night before or make sure there’s plenty of leftovers from dinner so you don’t have to worry about cooking.

The choice is yours … but make lunch count

Planning is key — or else you’ll get bored easily and be tempted to get back to work as soon as possible.

So here’s how to make the most of your break and how to use this time to advance your career.

  • Exercise during lunch … but make it fun

Have you ever wondered whether you’d enjoy running or pilates? Well, now’s the time to find out.

The likelihood is that you’re probably spending more time sitting down (because, well, your commute is probably a thing of the past) so there’s never been a better time to get moving and why not have fun while you do.

Think about what kind of exercise you enjoy and try and find online classes. You don’t even have to spend, you can find plenty of free exercise and stretching routines online. If you go down this route, try and watch them on a different device, such as your smartphone, to make sure you reduce work-related screen time.

If classes aren’t your thing, create your own workout routine. Personally, I’m a big fan of the sanity squat. This way, you can get your daily exercise done and also get those endorphins going, meaning you’ll return to feeling happier and refreshed — and be way more productive.

  • Do your house chores … but quickly 

Have you ever stopped to think about how much time house and life admin steals away from you? No, me neither, but I guarantee it’s (probably) a lot.

So, even though this might sound weird, you should totally consider taking care of household chores during your lunch break.

By getting this out of the way at lunch, it means you’ll be able to focus on work during working hours.

I mean, I know I’ve certainly been distracted by laundry while working from home.

  • Dream … but make your desired career a reality

Listen, there’s nothing wrong with daydreaming or thinking about how you can change and improve certain processes or solve big problems.

The issue here is that many of us spend way too much time thinking about how we can do something as opposed to actually doing it.

So, if you’ve been thinking about changing careers or starting a new business, use your lunch break to plan it out.

Say you spend 15-20 minutes eating, that means you still have approximately 40 minutes to sort yourself out — which by the way, should be plenty to work on your online portfolio, trawl through jobs, or improve your CV.

If you take that forty minutes a day, by the end of the week, you would have spent 200 minutes working towards your next career move or goal.

  • Unwind … but learn

Use part of your lunch break to learn a new skill.

This doesn’t have to be something obscure or complex, it can be as easy as watching online tutorials about useful things you’re interested in.

A few examples — to inspire you — can include SEO, email marketing, writing for the web, honing your pitch skills. You name it, and I guarantee you’ll find a credible source online.

If you have the budget, spend some time researching suitable — and accredited — courses and get learning.

You don’t have to restrict your learning to just job-related skills. In fact, you can always use this time to learn completely new skills that may eventually inspire a career change or a side hustle.

  • Network … but be smart 

Thanks to COVID-19, offline events are a thing of the past — at least for now.

However, this doesn’t mean you should put your networking on hold.

There are still plenty of things you can do to put yourself out there and meet people with similar or relevant interests.

If you’re really passionate about something, find a relevant online community to plug into.

You’ll get to delve into something you’re passionate about and forge important connections in that space.

Ultimately, I’m not advocating that you spend every waking second planning your career because it’s also important to relax.

But, the bonus of doing this kind of planning during your lunch is that once work is over, you can focus on things you enjoy doing. Picture that mojito.

So you like our media brand Growth Quarters? You should join our Growth Quarters event track at TNW2020, where you’ll hear how the most successful founders kickstarted and grew their companies.

Published August 14, 2020 — 09:00 UTC

Online Work

Call for application for cohort 2021 ECDC Fellowship Programme EPIET and EUPHEM paths, EU-track – EU News

The ECDC Fellowship Programme has the following programme objectives:

  • To contribute to strengthening the prevention, preparedness, surveillance and control of infectious diseases and other cross-border health threats or issues of public health concern in the EU/EEA Member States and at EU level, supporting the implementation of Decision 1082/2013/EU
  • To contribute to enhancing response capacities for effective field investigation and communicable disease control at European, national and community level to meet public health threats, in particular for the EU response to cross-bored threats to health
  • To contribute to strengthening the European and global network of public health professionals through the use of state-of-the-art, shared standards and methods, good practices and common public health objectives
  • To contribute to knowledge transfers and  capacity building within and between Member States;
  • To facilitate innovative inter-disciplinary and multi-sector cooperation and communication to achieve the above objectives while adjusting to emerging needs
  • To contribute to the reduction of disparity across Europe in the prevention, preparedness, surveillance and control of communicable diseases

Training and practical experience are provided in two paths:

  • Field epidemiology path (EPIET): in intervention epidemiology at the national and regional centres for surveillance and control of communicable diseases in the European Union.
  • Public health microbiology path (EUPHEM): in laboratories with public health functions or training sites with a consortium of different laboratories in Europe.

Who can apply?

In order to be eligible for the ECDC Fellowship Programme, candidates for both paths need to fulfil the following set of formal requirements:

  • Have a thorough knowledge (minimum B2) of at least two official languages of the EU/EEA, one of which shall be English;
  • Be a national of a Member State of the EU/EEA; and
  • Be entitled to her or his full rights as a citizen

In addition, depending on the path they apply for, candidates need to fulfil the following formal requirements:

Specific eligibility requirements for EPIET Path:

1. Completed post-secondary education (university studies) of at least 3 years attested by a diploma1 in medicine, public health, epidemiology, veterinary medicine, nursing, biology, microbiology, pharmacology, biomedicine or other health and social sciences, at the level of graduate diploma, Masters’ degree or equivalent;* and

2. At least one (1) year of work experience in public health or applied epidemiology..

Specific eligibility requirements for EUPHEM Path:

1. Post-secondary education attested by a diploma3 in medicine, biology, microbiology, veterinary medicine, pharmacology, or biomedicine, at the level of graduate diploma, Masters’ degree or equivalent; and

2. At least three (3) years of work experience in microbiology; or a PhD degree in microbiology or equivalent (e.g. clinical microbiology specialisation, veterinary medicine specialisations, or a specialisation in any microbiology field).*

For applicants with a background in laboratory sciences, previous experience in public health and epidemiology is an advantage.

* Only diplomas and certificates awarded in Member States of the EU/EEA, or that are the subject of equivalent certificates issued by authorities in an EU Member State shall be considered.

Selection of cohort 2021

The selection process is described in the Administrative Decision on ‘Rules governing the EU-track of the ECDC Fellowship Programme, field epidemiology path (EPIET) and public health microbiology path (EUPHEM)’.

Preliminary timeline*

Online Work

13 Tips for Manufacturing Employees Restarting Work – Occupational Health and Safety

13 Tips for Manufacturing Employees Restarting Work

13 Tips for Manufacturing Employees Restarting Work

As standard operations and the pace of production starts to revert to normal, both employers and employees must consider the possibility of physical deconditioning.

Manufacturing jobs are often physically demanding. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many employees with “non-essential” jobs spent months either not working or working reduced hours. As standard operations and the pace of production starts to revert to normal, both employers and employees must consider the possibility of physical deconditioning—negative changes to the body that develop over time due to reduced physical activity. Restarting work after physical deconditioning occurs places employees at higher risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). It can also affect production standards by reducing employee productivity and product quality.

As you restart work, you may notice some of the following:

Reduced muscle strength

The average adult can lose up to three percent of muscle strength per day. Over the course of multiple weeks, it is easy to see how a noticeable reduction in strength might occur if an individual is maintaining sedentary behavior.

Reduced cardiovascular fitness and physical endurance

Much like your muscles, over time your heart can lose strength with a lack of physical activity. A weaker heart makes it more challenging to quickly pump blood to working muscles during physical activity. This will cause the body to fatigue more quickly due to less oxygen and energy molecules getting to the working muscles. Less oxygen getting to your muscles and tissue means lactic acid build-up; this will contribute to earlier muscle fatigue and delayed-onset muscle soreness following the activity.

Reduced range of motion

Extended periods of time with reduced activity will likely limit one’s ability to extend or bend certain body segments. Your body’s joints will have less elasticity and you’ll experience increased muscle stiffness. This may require you to change the way you complete certain tasks when returning to work in order to reduce the risk of muscle strain.

Online Work

Voting during 2020 election: What you need to know about vote by mail, online ballots, polling places – CNET


How will vote by mail work this fall?

Sarah Tew/CNET

This story is part of Elections 2020, CNET’s coverage of the run-up to voting in November.

This Nov. 3, with the states still reeling from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, record numbers of Americans are expected to vote by mail to avoid the lines at their local polling places. For those who will decide to cast their ballot in person, however, states will allow that too, but voters should expect confusion about the location of polling places, long lines and social distancing.

Adding to the uncertainty are concerns that the US Postal Service may not have the funding necessary to handle a surge of absentee ballots this fall. “Now, they need that money in order to have the post office work, so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” President Donald Trump said during an interview on Fox Business. “If we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get their money. That means we can’t have universal mail-in voting. They just can’t have it.”

Most states already allow mail-in voting, and in 2016 nearly a quarter of ballots were cast by mail. But this year a handful of states are taking additional steps to make it easier to use a mail-in ballot to vote this fall.

The process started this spring with primary elections, when states began adjusting the way people could safely cast their vote, either in person or by mail. So far, the results have been mixed. 

In Georgia, for example, a shortage of poll workers, new polling procedures and a surge in mail-in votes created delays in primary voting. Likewise, in Pennsylvania, election officials were still counting votes a week after its June 2 primary, which saw an increase in mail-in ballots and an unexpected jump in votes cast at polling stations. And in New York’s recent primary, with more than 10 times the number of mail-in ballots received over recent elections, election officials are still counting absentee ballots six weeks after the election, the New York Times reported.

To head off bigger problems in November, many states are urging eligible voters to sign up now for mail-in ballots alongside other plans to hold safe elections. Here’s how states are preparing for the uncertainties of voting this fall. To register to vote in your state, head to the federal government’s voting website to find out how to register and check your registration status.

Now playing: Watch this: Here’s why global election hacking is on the rise


What is mail-in voting?

The idea of voting by mail is straightforward. You receive your ballot in the mail, complete it at your convenience at home, then put the prepaid envelope in the mail in time for the election.

Across the US, postal voting is widespread. According to Open Source Election Technology Institute — a nonprofit election-research firm — every state offers some form of mail-in voting, ranging from absentee ballots limited to those unable to vote in person to a 100% mail-in voting system used by five states. Here’s more on the differences between mail-in and absentee voting.

At the state level, mail-in voting is a bipartisan effort: 22 states with Republican governors offer vote-by-mail options to all voters as do 24 states led by Democratic governors, the election institute said. Four other states require voters to meet certain criteria to vote by mail, such being over 65 or out of the area on Election Day. To check the rules governing your state’s mail-in voting, head to the federal government’s voting website and follow the links to your state.



More people are expected to vote by mail in November.

Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Why are state and federal officials talking about postal voting now?

Holding a national election under the best of conditions can be challenging. But as some state primaries have shown, voting during a pandemic can strain a state’s election resources and present challenges for citizens to cast votes while practicing safe social distancing. 

To up the ante, in 2016, an estimated 138 million people voted in the November general elections. A report prior to the start of the pandemic predicted up to 160 million voters could participate this fall. Health authorities are already warning that without effective treatments, the US could see a rise in infections this fall, creating a surge of both infections and voter turnout.

If election officials can make it easier for tens of millions of voters to cast their ballots safely from home, fewer people will show up in person to vote, which could help slow the spread of disease.

What are the benefits of mail-in voting?

Voting by mail has other benefits besides helping people practice social distancing. 

A mail-in election can be cheaper to run: Colorado, which is 100% vote by mail, cut election administration by 40% after it switched to mail-in ballots. 

It can increase voter turnout: According to a Utah study, voting by mail can result in higher voter turnout. In the Georgia primary, some voters stepped out of long lines instead of waiting to vote. Lines could be worse in November, increasing the frustration of voting in person.

They increase voter engagement on more initiatives and candidates: From the same Utah study, those who voted by mail filled out more of their ballots then those who voted in person.

They are convenient: Voting by mail can save you from taking time off from school or work to travel to your polling station and stand in line to vote. You can also send in your ballot days and weeks ahead of an election if voting on the day of the election is inconvenient or impossible.

During the pandemic, keep voters safe: By using a mail-in ballot, voters can stay away from voting places, reducing their chance of infection. “You shouldn’t have to choose between your health and your ability to cast your ballot,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said about voting by mail.



Many states are working to make voting by mail as easy as possible.

Angela Lang/CNET

What are the arguments against voting by mail?

Despite the system’s advantages, some have raised flags about mail-in voting. 

Concerns of mail fraud: President Donald Trump has repeatedly talked about the risks of voter fraud with mail-in ballots.

While cases of mail-in voter fraud exist, such as in a 2018 North Carolina election, the instances are extremely rare, said Amber McReynolds, CEO of the National Vote at Home Institute, and Charles Stewart III, the director of the MIT Election Data and Science Lab.

Writing for The Hill, the two reported that in the last 20 years, there have been 1,100 criminal convictions for voter fraud. Of that, 143 were for mailed ballots. That works out to one case per state every six or seven years, the two wrote, or about 0.00006% of total votes cast over 20 years. To dig into the details, the Heritage Foundation keeps a sampling of recent election fraud cases. States also use a variety of methods to ensure the integrity of mail-in ballots, including signature verification and post-election audits.

May benefit one party: Trump has also suggested that voting by mail could benefit Democratic candidates. Whether voting by mail benefits one party or not, a study this spring out of Stanford University found that while voting by mail increases turnout rates modestly, it has no discernible effect on increasing vote shares for either party. The New York Times also found no evidence to support the claim that mail-in ballots favored either party. And recent surveys suggest that Trump’s attacks on mail-in voting could suppress voting for his own Republican party.

May not be available to everyone: A report by the National Conference of State Legislatures found that citizens who move frequently or live in areas without street addresses can be at a disadvantage with a mail-in system.

Postmarked rules applied differently at the state level: While some states accept a ballot postmarked before Election Day — even if it arrives after the election — a majority of states don’t count mailed-in ballots unless they arrive by the election. 

Some states may not be ready to handle mail-in ballots by November: States shifting to mail-in ballots will need to design, print and distribute the ballots and then train both voters and election officials on how to use and count ballots. States that already use a mail-in system have spent years preparing for this. States that are just now shifting to the process may have just months to get ready for a surge in mail-in ballots.

Now playing: Watch this: CISA director: Paper record key to keeping 2020 election…


How are states and districts handling postal voting this year?

While every state offers some form of postal voting, the rules for who gets to vote and how varies state by state. Five states entirely vote by mail and send an absentee ballot to each registered voter; on the other end, four states require voters to submit an application with an excuse to be able to receive a ballot by mail. In between are no-excuse states that send an mail-in ballot to anyone who requests one, without a reason. 

What about voting in person?

As some primary elections held this year have already shown, voting in a pandemic can be challenging, with long lines and understaffed polling places causing delays. But even with a push to get voters to cast their ballots by mail, states will still allow them to show up and vote. 

Hawaii, for example, is one of the five states that vote entirely by mail. It also offers voting centers for those who prefer to vote in person. But don’t expect voting in person to be like previous elections. 

Election officials predict a shortage of poll workers for the November election, and some in California — which hopes to conduct the November general election largely by mail-in ballot — have put out the call for younger voters to help run polling places, which are historically run overwhelmingly by older citizens who this year are at higher risk for infection.

For more: See our guide to the 2020 elections.

What about voting online?

While some states let voters cast their ballots online for state and local elections, in federal elections, you can’t vote online and will need to vote either in person or through the mail this November.

For more details, here are the differences between mail-in voting and absentee voting, why the pandemic may get worse before it gets better and what part social media may play in the fall election.

Online Work

Shopping at Home: How I Avoided Delivery Fees With Co-op Bank –

Not working for the day, I was woken up by the sound of loud banging on my bedroom door at 11 am that Friday.

Reluctantly leaving the warm embrace of my sheets, I opened the door to find my older sister Jeri, all dressed up and impatiently looking at me.

“I’m off to work. I hope you got all the stuff you were supposed to get for tonight from town as we agreed,” she told me.

Damn! I’d forgotten all about the surprise party I’d been tasked with planning for our mother that night. Unable to tell Jeri that I might have messed up, all I could muster in response was “Of course”.

An aerial photo of Nairobi

An aerial photo of Nairobi

Eddy Mwanza

As she closed the door on her way out, Jeri took a second to let me know just how much she was looking forward to the party. I sighed and opted to make breakfast as I contemplated my options.

I couldn’t make it to town and back because we simply lived too far and I couldn’t afford the party supplies we needed as well as the fare. I also honestly wasn’t ready to spend my off-day dragging heavy bags through a crowded Central Business District (CBD).

The end of the month was approaching and I was broke. After some quick mental calculations, I knew I only had enough for the supplies and transport for the rest of the month. 

I had to get creative. We couldn’t let our mother down, she single-handedly raised Jeri and I and we’d made a tradition of giving her the best birthdays ever.

I decided to first get the few supplies on the list that were available at our local shop, Mama Halima’s. Mama Halima, a good friend of my mother’s, struck up a conversation with me as I picked out the balloons. I ended up telling her of my woes as the clock kept ticking before my mother returned home after a long day.

“What kind of predicament is that? If your issue is the delivery fee why don’t you shop on the Naivas website and pay with your Co-op Visa Card? You’ll have your items delivered to your door and you won’t pay any delivery fee,” she told me.

It sounded too good to be true, so I pulled out my phone and checked for the service on the supermarket’s website. I couldn’t believe it.

For purchases of goods worth over Ksh1,000 paid with a Co-op Visa Card, I was entitled to a total refund of the delivery fee.

The delivery fee refund was to be credited to my Naivas e-wallet within 24 hours of the transaction, and could be spent on other purchases.

Having gotten a Co-op Visa Debit Card months earlier when I visited one of the bank’s branches, I was good to go. I often used the card to make a myriad of payments including when eating out, paying for utilities, and shopping in stores. Wherever I saw the Visa sign, I pulled out the card. There were no extra costs.

I went back home and ordered everything I needed to be delivered from the supermarket for my mother’s party. I had two hours left before she came back home.

Jeri had just gotten back home from work when we had a knock on the door. We were both worried my mother was home early.

Luckily, it was only the delivery guy who handed me my package full of supplies. We rushed to set up the decorations around the house and quickly called my mother’s friends to come over.

Looking at the smile on her face when she walked in to a chorus of “Surprise!” I couldn’t help but think how my Co-op Visa Card saved the day.

A photo of a Co-op Bank Kenya branch in Nairobi

A Co-op Bank Kenya branch in Nairobi


Online Work

A Photojournalist Teaches Online Classes to Keep Working – The Swaddle

In Work, Re-cultured, The Swaddle brings you a snapshot of what work-from-home culture looks like for Indian professionals across industries. In this installment, a 28-year-old photojournalist, A.J.

I have been a freelance photojournalist for six years.  It’s not difficult to guess that my work is entirely in the field. In non-Covid times, I would get at least four assignments per week, and on the other days, I’d shoot my own photographs and pitch them to different publications. 

I’ve never felt the need to apply for a full-time role, because freelance assignments were floating my boat and paying my bills. I live alone in Mumbai, and so far, I’ve not needed any help from my parents in paying the rent or for other expenses. 

I’m a lot into technology, gadgets and accessories for the camera, such as different types of lenses. So most of what I made has gone into buying these things. Hence, I don’t have a lot of savings. 

Therefore, the last four months have been extremely difficult for me, and I’m sure for people in my field. Work has dried up amid this pandemic. Publications have cut down on their freelance budgets, so I’m not getting too many stories to work on.

Unlike other professions, my work isn’t about Zoom calls or teleconferencing. Because I’m not in a permanent role, I have no office meetings to attend or bosses to send updates to. Earlier, I’d be out of the house for at least 12 hours, changing trains, hopping from one part of the city to another on assignment, six days a week. For the first three months of the lockdown, I couldn’t establish a routine. I’d wake up at different times, dig out my old photographs and put them up on Instagram to keep it active. I also went back to a few wedding shoots I did, edited them and sent them to clients. That got me some money to pay rent for two months. 

Related on The Swaddle:

Work‑From‑Home Policies Are Popular in Theory, But Succeed Only in Ideal Settings

Finally, I got assigned a big project. It was to shoot the state of municipal hospitals in Mumbai. I did that but ended up testing positive for Covid19. Luckily, I had to quarantine at home, and I was fine within a few weeks. Soon after I started feeling better, I began making portraits of people on an iPhone, while video conferencing them. This wasn’t for any monetary benefit but just to create something new. You know there was a lot of pressure on us ‘creative’ people to also keep creating. I shot a lot of photo stories of everyday objects and posted them on social media, but it was stressful after a while. On some days, I just lay down, curled up with a book, without the phone or the camera next to me all day.

When I felt like I was getting too lazy, I thought of giving classes for basic photography skills for children 15 years and up for a fee. Online classes aren’t fun at all. I would want to be in front of students to show them different parts of the camera, accompany them to different locations as they shoot, help them set up angles, but I’m helpless now. Everything has to be on screen and my teaching has to be crafted accordingly. I’m not sure how much students are learning but nobody’s dropped out yet which I’m guessing is a good sign. 

As told to Anubhuti Matta.