Olivia is a year 6 teacher at Chesswood Junior School in Sussex. Since lockdown began, she’s brushed up her computer skills, used her fridge as a whiteboard and got to know her class even better than she did before. She tells us why she loves teaching from home.
If you’d have asked a group of people pre-pandemic which jobs were most suited to working from home, teaching would most definitely have been at the bottom of that list. It’s an alien concept for such a people-facing profession to have shifted to teaching remotely. And, I must admit, when this began I was sceptical.
However, over the past few weeks I’ve found new ways to love my job, even if it has meant having to do it virtually. The COVID-19 outbreak has thrown up many challenges for schools and teaching staff. My experience so far is that my colleagues have risen to the challenge with creativity, compassion and care in a way that has made me proud to be a part of the same team. Adversity always has a way of showing what people are truly made of.
Reconnecting with families
One of the key priorities for my school during this lockdown has been to maintain contact with our families and children. This has been one of the true highs of the experience so far; a relief to be able to speak directly with my children and see how they are managing with the change of routine and grasping learning from home. It’s been great to hear how the children are engaging with the resources and I must say, the children in my class have handled the pressure of speaking on the phone with their teacher a lot better than I would have aged 10 or 11!
Keeping the kids motivated
We’ve all been finding our own way to keep our kids engaged and one thing that I’ve found really useful has been the supportive little communities that have popped up all over the place. As well as being great places to go for good tips and ideas, it’s just nice to know you’re not alone! In that spirit, here three things I’ve found really helpful:
- My school set our children up with their own school email accounts, providing a link between teachers and students to share their work. This has been a great way to see what the children have been getting up to and checking that lesson resources are accessible. It’s also helping the children to stay motivated as they know that we care about what they are doing and can share positive messages of encouragement and congratulations. Side note: there is a certain joy to including animated GIFs and emojis in my marking feedback!
- Another way we are celebrating the children’s achievements is by having class pages set up on our website. This is helping to reconnect them with their peers as they can all log on and see each other’s work.
- Along with sharing academic achievements with the children, I’ve encouraged them to write to me about what they have been enjoying doing with their families at the weekends and I have been doing the same. I’ve loved being able to share some aspects of my home life and better understand theirs. I also created a scrabble board from things lying around the house to highlight to them that there are plenty of ways to keep their minds active – there is an extra sense of satisfaction when you can use old and unused things!
Reflecting on my teaching practice
One of the biggest things I will take from this time are the skills I have picked up. It takes a lot to change habits, and even more to step outside of your comfort zone – but this has done just that. My children would be the first to say that Miss Pye lets them take the lead in our computing lessons normally, but this experience has changed that as providing video tutorials has really helped to improve my computer skills. There is a solution to every problem and I very much hope I carry this way of thinking forward when I’m back in the classroom – for example, in the beginning I was missing my classroom materials, so I used my fridge as a whiteboard! Thankfully though, I have now managed to procure a whiteboard and save my fridge from any more vandalism.
Looking ahead to the future
Thinking ahead, I am very much looking forward to being back in class to see my children again. This is especially important for me because, as a Year 6 teacher, my class are in a transition period where they will be moving on to secondary school in autumn. I want them to leave feeling confident in the progress they have made and ready to take on the new challenges that lie ahead for them. My message for them will be to believe in themselves, follow what they feel passionate about and ask for help when they need it. And if it turns out that I can’t do this in person I’m sure I’ll find another way to make sure they know!
Show your appreciation for teachers
Thank a Teacher Day is on Wednesday 20th May. Find out more about how you can celebrate on the Thank a Teacher website.