As life slowly begins to return to what feels a bit like normality, we wanted to hear from your stories about your life in lockdown. How being out of the classroom has affected both teachers and students, what the main differences have been and positives about returning to school when it’s safe for all to do so.
We sat down (virtually) with a teacher from the North West who helped shed some more light on what life in lockdown has been for them.
Firstly, how have you coped during the lockdown, has it been more stressful and how supportive have your school been throughout?
In my setting, which is in a catholic secondary school in the North West of England, I would say the school has been very supportive. They’ve been very flexible in allowing staff to decide when they will be working, which I am aware is not the case for all schools, with a lot of others having their staff work between set hours, but our school has been very supportive. They appreciate different peoples home lives, with some people having commitments during lockdown, such as looking after children, therefore it’s easier for them to work in the evenings.
Because we haven’t been doing live lessons, it’s made things easier. Instead, we have opted to set work remotely and digitally. Where we would normally teach in a lesson, we have pre-prepared a stream, where the teacher narrates over a PowerPoint for the students to watch. Meaning students can re-watch any parts which they don’t understand.
The only stress I have come across is the learning of new technology and new applications on the computers, such as recording lessons. If anything, it feels as though workload has been reduced compared to what it is normally like in school.
How have you adapted your teaching throughout the lockdown?
Videos have become the new normality for our school, which means lessons are pre-pared with extra detail because I do not have a whiteboard available. I haven’t been able to differentiate my lessons as often as I would of liked too either, because setting the work remotely does take longer than distributing it in the classroom.
I’ve also tried to make my instructions much more thorough for students who may need more explicit instructions or guidance about what I want them to do.
Do you feel comfortable returning to the classroom?
Yes and no. Yes because our school have put safety measures in place which are extensive and fantastic, with all students staying 2 metres apart from each other at all times. Our site team have done an amazing job in marking out zones for students to sit in and for us teachers to ensure we’re 2 metres apart in the classroom. If they weren’t there, I would have felt much more anxious about the return.
What have you learnt from the lockdown, is there anything you will be putting into practice in the new school year?
Even when we do return to normality, I still like the concept of the stream lessons, so it is something I would be keen to continue to record for students, so they are able to access lessons anytime they want. It would also allow students to catch-up on lessons they may have missed if they were absent.
For many students, it was an important time for their GSCE & A-Levels, how have they been affected by the lockdown?
Our GSCE and A-Level students I have a lot of sympathy for. There seems to be a lot of talk surrounding these students with many saying they have it easy, without having to sit external exams, but in reality these students have been robbed of the rigor of what a full exam series will give them and now they are progressing on to further education without the experience that a tough exam period brings and that is a worry because it means those students may not have developed the same resilience that previous cohorts have done.
Coming out of lockdown, what are the next steps for you on your return to the classroom?
For me, establishing where the students are up to, which doesn’t mean a test as soon as they sit back down, but teaching lessons as I normally would do with added awareness that they will have gaps in their knowledge. It might well be that a while class doesn’t have that gap, but certain students who have struggled to access work remotely will do, which needs to be catered for.
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