Mel Mycroft is a reception teacher at Woodseats Primary School in Sheffield. On 15th June, she welcomed her pupils back into her classroom. Mel describes her first week in school – the similarities, the differences, the nerves on Monday morning and the children’s happy faces by Friday. It’s been a very different first week back at school…
I was nervous about what to expect walking back into the classroom I’d left 12 weeks ago. Although I’d been in contact with the school throughout the lockdown period, I had not been in school myself as I had my own young children to look after.
Coming back into school on 15th June I walked into a bare-looking classroom. The senior leadership team had been working hard to clear our classrooms and lay out the tables so that the children could sit two metres apart. Most of the toys had been removed. The tables were set out with a plastic wallet for each child including a pencil, writing book, whiteboard and pen. The displays had been taken down and the room looked uninviting. But my teaching assistant and I got used to our surroundings before the children were due to start their new way of schooling.
The children came into the room in single file, looked around unsure of what to do. The first of many hand washing sessions began before they were directed to a table which would become their place for the remaining days at school.
My teaching assistant and I felt that the children’s social skills should be a focus and needed to develop after being away from school for so long. So we started with smaller input sessions. These are small periods of time where the children sit spaced out on the carpet and we teach something new or go over something that has been previously taught. As teachers, we watched the children play, we recapped old learning from before lockdown, we noticed where children have missed learning opportunities whilst being away from school. But we noticed what they have gained too. Watching the children play together it was clear that, even after all this time apart, friendships had not been lost and new ones were being forged.
Throughout the week, we began to add more colour, drawings into the room to make it more early years friendly. We were looking at the story of the Billy Goats Gruff, so we set up painting activities on the tables to create our own goats and trolls. The room began to look more friendly and inviting.
By the end of the week, the children began to settle into their routines and were more relaxed and happier when coming into school. Parents have told us the children want to come to school, and it has helped them get back to some kind of normality. It is lovely to see our children again - to see how happy and excited they are to be back with their friends. All the nerves and apprehension about coming back into school has gone and it is like we have never been away.