COVID-19 brought the necessity of a lockdown and 2 months of school closures, here in Greece, along with huge challenges for teachers, parents and pupils. No, it was not a holiday for teachers – it was far from it.
Not having a definite work schedule meant: working till late at night; having to change and condense the curriculum to make sure that the children would still be able to move to the next year having covered all the required curriculum targets; learning to navigate through a new online platform; creating online engaging lessons for all pupils to be able to work through independently on their own with less adult guidance; spending endless hours on the computer; finding new ways of reaching out to your pupils; all that topped with the uncertainty of tomorrow were just some of the challenges that teachers encountered.
Faced with a steep learning curve, we all did what we had to do to ensure quality teaching and learning for all, through these uncharted waters and we mastered new ways of interacting with our pupils. Some people coped better than others as everyone’s situation varied enormously during these challenging times.
With the brunt of it now over, although the threat of the virus far from gone and schools re-opening on the 1st June, I’d like to share with you how I think lockdown and school closure brought out the best in me as an educator, for it was not all bad.
During this time, I was able to fulfill one of my dreams, to launch a children’s YouTube channel ‘Saved you a spot’. Lockdown gave me the extra time and with that, the confidence to push my limits and take a dive into creating different material to aid children’s learning. Wanting to be able to still approach children in a more direct way I experimented with different ways of doing that such as: reading stories and using videos to share information in a fun and exciting way to help children learn from a distance. I taught myself how to edit videos, add animations and talk to a camera (that was hard) all of which empowered me with new skills and a newfound confidence as a teacher. Of course I have only scratched the surface of this and I still have a long way to go for my channel to become an established children’s YouTube channel, but at least it’s gradually increasing its followers and the more content I create the better it will become – my summer project is most definitely set out. Feel free to follow! Ha!
I learnt to become increasingly patient with uncontrollable circumstances like never-ending technical and internet issues. Being patient online was a must we teachers had to wait for a response longer than we would have done in the classroom. As educators we know that children need to be given some time to process the question and their thoughts before they give an answer. Teaching online certainly forced this upon you and the results were intriguing. In a classroom when you did not get a response soon you might have moved on to another child who was eagerly bobbing up and down on their seat with their hand up while desperately trying not to blurt out the answer, leaving the other child – who may have just have been a few seconds away from answering. Online teaching made you wait for pupils to respond, even if their answer was, ‘I do not know.’
Distant teaching made me look at the curriculum in a new light. Rather than it being something rigid that had to be covered in a prescriptive, set way I had to rise to the challenge to make it work for all – it had to be condensed and moulded for remote learning. As I started making those necessary changes I came to see that the curriculum was something pliable and easily moldable to suit everyone’s need. This feeling of empowerment gave me the confidence to break down lessons and units into smaller chunks to aid learning in a more effective way. There were parts that I totally scrapped as they wouldn’t work online and I replaced them with other parts that I would not otherwise have thought of. This in turn sparked my creativity and I was able to create lessons – dare I say without sounding pompous – better than those recommended to meet the year objectives. I’ve shared many of those for colleagues worldwide, to use for free if they so wish, through this blog. Have a little snoop it if you are looking for any such resources.
I am grateful for remote learning because I got the chance to see different aspects of my pupils’ personalities and similarly they got a chance to see different aspects of my personality. I was given a rare chance to be part of everyone’s home life and not a separate school entity as they got the chance to be part of my home life too, making our bond even stronger. Working from home is totally different to working from school just as home learning is too. You are comfortable, at ease and more relaxed to be just you.
For the above reasons, and I’m pretty sure there are some more that don’t come to mind just yet, I reflect on school closure and remote teaching as a positive experience. With my newfound skills, fired up creativity and steady love for my job, I look forward to new challenges we are sure to face with the re-opening of schools and social distancing measures being put in place – I say, ‘Bring it on!’. What do you say?
Like and share this post to spread the positivity. ❤
Till next time…
Hi. I love hearing about how this experience challenged and improved your teaching.
I notice something from your descriptions of all you had to do. There’s no mention of parents. No mention of the increased communication with parents I’m sure you had to do, or how you helped equip them to help their students learn from home.
I’d love to hear more about that aspect of things. I feel parents were put in the position of taking on much more responsibility for their kids education, but often weren’t really treated like partners in this. For example, I never knew ahead of time what topics would be covered the next week in my children’s classes. It’s not like I needed to know every detail…but if I had known, for instance, that “next week we will be studying states, habitats, and learning fractions,” or heard about big projects that were coming up ahead of time, that would have been helpful.
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Thank you for commenting on my post. I didn’t mention parents as my relationship with them didn’t change during school closure.We were in communication via email whenever necessary and I would reply as promptly as possible, keeping my seniors in the loop at all times.
I currently teach year 4 (8-9 year olds) so the children are at an age where they can function as independent learners with little adult guidance. I think initially, parents were most definitely overwhelmed as they had to take on both the role of a parent and an educator. Once we started the live lessons and we had that ‘live’ interaction with the pupils, modified the lessons by creating engaging PowerPoints with additional explanations, step by step instructions and new worksheets to go along with them, it helped both children and parents as they knew exactly what was expected.
Teachers were available online from 9am-3pm to answer all queries via the Microsoft Teams platform and I would help when anyone got stuck with something. I would send videos to aid explanation or write examples, sometimes I would guide them back to the PowerPoint as it was evident they had missed something.
It took a while to train the children to learn in this way but I can say that by the 3rd week the children had got into a routine, knew what to expect and how to navigate Teams as well as contact me whenever they needed help.
We rigidly kept to the curriculum and continued to meet the set objectives. Parents already knew what we would be covering via our curriculum plans, a document shared at the beginning of each term outlining what will be covered. We also didn’t expect parents to fill in our role because we could not assume they were able to, as many were still working from home. Teaching was still up to us, during the live lessons we made sure everyone understood the lesson objective and how they would meet it.
I think the younger the children the more the parents had to fill in the educator role and I can understand why you would want to know ahead of time about what is going to be covered so that you can be prepared. I’m pretty sure though, if you contact your child’s the teacher or school they would be more that happy to share what they plan on teaching with you.
I hope this helped you gain insight into my experience with the parent aspect of things during school closure.
If you are on holiday like me, have a great one and stay safe!