How COVID-19 School Closure Made Me a Better Teacher

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…

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