How will British teachers evolve through the coronavirus lockdown?
One thing we all have in common is that COVID19 has made a direct impact on all our lives. I do wonder how it will shape the future of teaching as we move towards lockdown…
I’ve been in touch with a few teachers working in the Far East. Those teachers who are now coming out of their homes and schools after 8 weeks of coronavirus lockdown. I’ve been reading several blogs from teachers, who have not only shared the tools they’ve been using online, reflecting on what has worked best, but also reading up on their reflections having made it to the other side…
Adapting to a new way of living and working…
Last night, I met online with two schools in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to work with 100+ teachers from The British School. As they reach the end of week two, they are already experiencing unprecedented levels of workload, email notifications from pupils and parents, and endless planning issues as they switch from physical to online teaching and learning. As a result, I’ve seen a shift in website content to support teachers, adopting efficient edtech solutions and strategies – if I cannot reach teachers physically, I’m going to do all I can to work with them online.
In the last week alone, after facing the initial shock of losing all of my physical teacher training work, I’ve been asked to write curriculum plans, conduct whole-school webinars, support teachers and school leaders in workload/coaching sessions to online advertorial work, writing my new book and finding what time I have left to write up my doctoral progress (as well as being a father and husband working from home). It’s a challenging time for us all.
The immediate future
Online commentary offered a glimpse into what we may expect over the next four-to-eight weeks. It said:
“We are just finishing our 7th week of eLearning; weeks of being mainly housebound and seven weeks of uncertainty. We are healthy, we are happy, and we are humbled. Today, we are allowed to move around freely with a green QR code that we show to get our temperature taken everywhere. It has become part of our daily routine. Most restaurants and shopping centres are now open, and life is coming back to our city.”
Some words of wisdom are offered are the rest of the world goes into lockdown:
- Accept that you have no control over the situation. Let go of any thoughts of trying to plan too much for the next month or two. Accept that this is what it is and things will get easier.
- Try not to listen to, read or watch too much media. It will drive you crazy.
- The sense of community I have felt during this time is incredible. I could choose who I wanted to spend my energy on – who I wanted to call, message and connect with – and found my relationships have improved.
- Appreciate this enforced downtime. When do you ever have time like this?
- Time goes fast. [Use the time to complete DIY jobs or watch box-sets; perhaps write that book?]
- As a teacher, the relationships I have built with my students have only continued to grow. I have loved seeing how independent they are; filming themselves to respond to tasks while also learning essential life skills such as balance, risk-taking and problem-solving; the things even we as adults are still learning.
- You will appreciate the little things; the sunshine through the window and the flowers beginning to blossom.
“To those just beginning this journey, You will get through it. Listen to what you are told, follow the rules and look out for each other. There is light at the end of the tunnel…”
The distant future
For all of us, the things we do subconsciously are now being questioned: Examinations, primary to secondary transition, curriculum plans online and more. With teachers shifting their work to online, with little or no notice as a result of the pandemic crisis and government action, managing hygiene and safety with 1,000s of email or notifications has seen teacher-workload shoot through the roof, far-beyond the normal day-job requirements!
My greatest fear is teacher recruitment in September, school budgets and the long-term impact of this on our mental health (from pupils to headteachers). I’m also confident that we will all return to our schools sooner rather than later, and that parents can return to working from home or at their place of work. And although some will have shared some incredible moments with their children, equally, we will have seen not-so-great things happening on social media with our young people. Can you imagine our children being left on their devices for over 12 hours a day? Well, I guarantee you that this will be happening in some parts of the country and it’s a worry…
The world needs teachers…
Society will never replace the role of the teacher, and if there is one thing the pandemic has taught us, is that everyone has a place in our society to make our communities functional. Our teachers manage relationships and support the cognitive development of the child, they develop a child’s knowledge of the world and question with rigour, holding pupils to account for their learning. In terms of the physical connection and concept of a school, our teachers engage our pupils, keep them off their devices so that they can learn to communicate, play and also sit an examination.
Today, as we enter into a second week of lockdown, I suspect you (as am I) are currently navigating between anxiety and indifference, hygiene and workload issues from home. I know that the teaching profession will come back stronger and better prepared, and one thing we do know for sure, is that our parents will be thankful.
I am optimistic that the profession will bounce back, and I do hope that the crisis will reshape how we live and work, as well as make us rethink about how we work and live.
(Inspired by reflections from ex-pat Cilla Murphy, emerging from 7-weeks of lockdown in China!)