In our new blog series ‘UNPRECEDENTED’ – we’re going to be hearing from a range of people who have different experiences of this global pandemic, and lockdown. Our aim is to give you an opportunity to read, think, and find some encouragement, inspiration or just community in knowing you’re not alone.

This time, we hear from a CCCU graduate from the 2010 BA Hons in Primary Education cohort, who is a Primary School teacher…

Ask any teacher who loves their job what they love about it… I promise you that after a few comments regarding school holidays, colleagues and the pay (none of which they will really mean) they will tell you it’s the children. It might be because of the crazy ideas they have, how every day is a different challenge, their creativity, how exciting that wow moment is when it all clicks into place, or how they wonder at things which to us seem so normal. It initially seemed a job you couldn’t do from home at all, but this is currently our reality as teachers and due to the wonders of modern technology we are now trying to teach children without actually seeing them face to face.

I love my job, but one of the toughest weeks I’ve had is when we were told officially that the schools would be shutting (for everyone but key workers children) indeterminately. The office staff were frantically ringing round trying to work out what this meant, who would we have in, how would we support the children at home and what this meant for things like rotas.

I found myself stood in front of a class of 30 children who were expecting me to have answers about what was going on and what was going to happen next…

Looking back now it was completely surreal, trying to keep things normal for the children but also wanting to prepare them for the fact they might not be back in school for a long time. As always in these situations, the children surprised us and were amazing.

The children were reassuring each other, making sure no one would feel lonely and making plans for things they could do at home, (because they wanted to be helpful and make sure they didn’t stop parents/carers working – this was their big concern).

It is all a bit of a blur towards the end but I do remember looking around my usual quiet, focused and competitive class and smiling at all the fun, noise and teamwork the children were creating as it was going to be the last time they saw each other for a while.

So what does it look like now? Apart from occasional days in school looking after a small number of key worker children with fun activities and keeping them safe, my days are spent online. We no longer see the children face to face but it puts more value on our communication with them. The work we plan, watching them achieve the tasks and answering their questions. We know parents are busy and for many it’s unrealistic to expect them to teach their children new concepts whilst juggling work and other caring commitments, so we are making sure we set revision and things the children should be able to access independently.  It has required more flexibility responding to things when they come through and altering things for what the children need. We are trying to provide lessons which can be accessed and completed around how each family works – not at a set time or routine.

Our focus hasn’t changed; it is still the children and their wellbeing.

On a typical day, I check messages, respond to emails and plan work for an hour or two and the rest of the day is taken up with marking their online work. This part of the job which can be most time consuming and relentless is becoming more enjoyable. It is a chance to hear from the children, see pictures of them still being creative, sharing in jokes and checking on each other as a class. For me, it is a joy to see them developing from the children I met in September who were completely reliant on me as a teacher to the self-sufficient, independent, resilient children I am seeing now.

There is still a lot of uncertainty around education at the moment, about when school will reopen and what this will mean and look like. Many conversations I have with colleagues leads to these questions. But actually for me, Lockdown has helped me not to speculate and plan for things which may or may not happen, and remember that even we as teachers we don’t have all the answers. Instead, I am focusing on what I can do for the children through the communication channels available. Yes, I still miss my class.

My job is different; my voice is rested but my goal is the same as I am sure yours would be: helping children learn, looking after their wellbeing and watching them grow into wonderful adults.

We want to hear your stories! Tell us about your experience of working from home, any interviews or processes you’re going through…

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