Like every teacher in the country my job has changed drastically over the past year. Standing in front of children to share my passion for History every day is what I love most about teaching. I am very lucky in that I can do this now one to one through tutoring and thanks to a new contract teaching three days a week at my alma mater The Windsor Boys’ School, I can do this to larger groups at again.
But, like everyone, I’ve got used to a ‘new normal’. I am at home with my two children, while my wife, an inclusion manager at a Primary School has returned to work. It’s been amazing to spend so much more time with my children. At the same time, it has been hard to keep a family going while balancing the pressures of work.
Working from home I have to fit my job around my family – I try and find time to work whenever I can, often leaving the children to the dreaded devices. But as with families up and down the country we carry on regardless.
What I’ve really missed is talking to and interacting with the kids when I’m teaching. I have a stock outstanding lesson which involves writing essays, model answers, mark schemes and re-drafts. An approach which works perfectly in class and less perfectly on Teams, so after 18 years I’ve needed to adapt. My colleagues have been brilliant and a new teaching and learning group has been set up to look at different approaches. Some ideas include and I hope they don’t mind me sharing:
- Using a second screen to complete the register while students are working during the lesson (phone, ipad etc)
- Use of the rubric (to provide levelled answers) in the assignment section of Teams
- Use of self-marking quizzes using Microsoft Teams Forms
- Using the visualiser to show modelled answers/diagrams on a mini whiteboard.
- Opening the ppt in Teams rather than as a window so that you can see the students while the ppt is open.
- Use of the XP-Pen or WACOM to draw on a whiteboard or mark work.
- Use of self-marking quizzes on GCSE pod
- Using a live word document so that the teacher can see the work students are doing while they are doing it.
- Break out groups on Teams so that students can do group work and teachers can monitor each group.
I’ve learnt a lot from all the ups and downs of this unusual time. Although there have been many challenges, there has also been a huge amount of positivity that has come out. For example, the appreciation for teachers and the way communities have come together. Now I’m really looking forward to going back to school and getting back into the classroom. But I hope we’ll all look back and take something from this time, which will shape the way we live our lives so that we all feel more grateful for what we have and what we do.