Teaching During Lockdown

I’m writing this as a reflective post, as we move into a different phase of lockdown, with schools opening wider and end of term looming. The expectation things will start to become more normal for the next academic year is bright and positive. I wanted to write this blog simply for me. To remind myself that I tried my hardest for my own children and my class at home, despite the hyperbolic headlines and vocal voices of discontent online, about what teachers have been doing during lockdown. Getting tans and making cakes was my personal favourite…

I remember sitting there when the news broke, unable to process all that I was hearing, and not quite sure what it meant for me, my own children and my school. That first Monday back in school (after the announcements) was one of the most stressful times I think I have faced in education, and I have had many experiences that have made me come home and want to bury my head in a bowl of cheese.

I can’t even begin to imagine what my wonderful SLT went through in those early days (and indeed throughout as new guidance was dropped). Rota groups were quickly announced and we were left to gather our thoughts about planning. We would be using the class dojo platform with parents and children, as that was already well established in school, but it would be in a way none of us had ever used before.

Those early days were like some kind of whirlwind of stress and isolation. Homeschooling my two children and completing their work as well as juggling supporting my class online, planning for the following weeks and not seeing another adult (when not on rota) got to me. I found myself slipping and sliding on invisible treacle, feeling a failure in all areas. I remember one day in particular where both girls threw biros at my head and screamed, ‘We’re on strike!’ at me. It was at that point I made the decision I would go into school every week for 3 days, as apposed to the week on and off rota, as my mental health was struggling too much. It was a hard decision. Would mean taking my own kids into school and risking their health. I didn’t make it lightly and as always, Karen on twitter accused me of putting the lives of children at risk by being in school more than I should be. Karen and Nigel have had such fun over lockdown on social media haven’t they!

That little change however worked. We fell into a happier routine at home and work and I started to practice what I preached to parents, with regard to my own children’s homeschooling. I would tell my parents, when they were stressed and struggling, not to put pressure on their children and do what they could, when they could. I realised I wasn’t doing that with my own children and was trying to implement an unmanageable schedule on them. I will openly admit some days we didn’t do maths at home. But we survived and got through. And did lots and lots of Art! Have I mentioned before how much I love the Arts? I’m not sure that has cropped up in my tweets before 😜

I didn’t just get ‘through’ though. I now realise I did great things. I have been very low and now I am pulling myself out of that treacle (with support from friends, colleagues and my wonderful SLT) I want to record some good things I did to remind myself. Karen on twitter will probably read this and make a passive aggressive post about edu-celebs thinking they are amazing. But Karen doesn’t know what I’ve been through and why I need to do this. So. Here we go. Things I’ve done in lockdown I am proud of.

1) Keeping the joy of Brightstorm going online with the children, despite being in lockdown. I adapted all of our literacy work to be accessible at home. The engagement and work produced has been stunning. Vashti Hardy even sent them a couple of videos in lockdown to keep their spirits up. She’s an amazing woman.

2) Communication with parents has been a massive positive for me. I feel I have spoken and developed a greater bond with parents during lockdown than I have in 15 years of teaching face to face. When I was down, I remember getting several wonderful messages from parents about how grateful they were for the communication and how the work was pitched perfectly. I won’t forget this cohort of children or their parents ever I think.

3) Doing silly little things to make my children smile. One that I still chuckle about is using the class pet in school to send them naughty photos. 4) Making sure reading for pleasure is HIGH profile despite lockdown. I have read a chapter of Gargantis to my children every day and made sure they are excited by generating book buzz by making little props and setting voluntary challenges for them to do around the book. Thomas Taylor (the author) is equally as wonderful as Vashti as made them a video to encourage them to keep listening to me read and make sure the interest didn’t wane. 5) Spending time with my children and appreciating all I have. Sometime the little things get lost when we are busy. I have watched them grow and mature before my eyes. My son completed his college course in lockdown and got a distinction. I am enormously proud of him and the wonderful adult he is becoming.

6) I am particularly proud of my work around vocabulary during lockdown. Words and vocabulary have always been massively important in my teaching and I developed posters to share with my class online in pdf form and also in videos using a big book I could discuss with them. Despite lockdown, they will have been exposed and taught over 150 new words, then exposed to in context as I read the class book.

7) Stronger friendships have been forged with colleagues at work (Amy, Becky, Gemma I love you lots) and my friendships with twitter pals has only deepened. I can’t mention you all but my heart has a special place for these amazing tweeters who have been there for me through highs and lows of lockdown:

Kat Howard @SaysMiss

Louise Lewis @MissLLewis

Louise Cass @louisecass

Ele @lllwriteitdown

Joanne Jukes @MissRegardless

Joanne Tiplady @MissJoT

Shannon Doherty @MissSDoherty

Emma Cate @emmaccatt

Callum @Callum_SEND

Helena Brothwell @educurious2015

Ed Finch @MrEFinch

Matt Swain @mattswain36

Kevin McLaughlin @_kevinmcl

Nimish Lad @NLad84

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