Imagine trying to keep the attention of a class of 30 teenagers long enough to teach them something. It’s not a skill many of us possess. Now, imagine trying to do that over a video call from your own home with extremely limited resources. For teachers around the world, this has been the reality during the COVID19 lockdown and they’ve had to use all of their skills to adapt to the circumstances. We had a chat with Miss Alice Tandy, Science teacher at Alcester Academy, England to hear about her experience of remote teaching.
This is Alcester’s story of Gratitude for their incredible teachers who have, and are still rising to the occasion of remote learning.
Teaching from home, similarly to working from home, initially seemed like a great idea. We were excited at the prospect of dressing ‘business at the top, pyjamas at the bottom’ and avoiding that dreaded commute.
Miss Tandy had similarly positive expectations: ‘teaching from home was less demanding; you don’t have the ‘naughty’ pupils who don’t fancy doing the work to discipline nor do you have to shout to ensure you voice reaches 30 pupils in a classroom.’ Having the help of parents to do any disciplining was a huge plus, and a job for which teaching staff were happy to share the responsibility.
It wasn’t all plain sailing however, Miss Tandy explains. ‘It was more demanding than I thought in terms of providing constant feedback to pupils. When work was set online and pupils submitted it, it would feel wrong to not provide a detailed level of feedback to ensure pupils felt their work wasn’t going unnoticed.’ The increased administration that came with the lack of face to face contact became a struggle; ‘written feedback for every piece of work completed would never normally be feasible under normal circumstances.’
And it wasn’t just the increased effort that came with the lack of immediate communication that made remote learning difficult, it eventually started to have an effect on the student-teacher relationship. Miss Tandy reported that ‘many pupils are afraid to show their faces on video or turn their mics on, therefore communication is very different and really quite one-sided; I talk at them and they type answers or questions. This is very different to being in a classroom as there is no interaction with individual students to build relationships, nor opportunity for them to seek support on a one to one basis.’
As with any challenges, they serve to strengthen our skills and make us more resilient in any future, similar situations. Important lessons have been learned by all of us during the pandemic and for teachers, when asked about her own self-improvement, Miss Tandy said she had learned most about communication between student and teacher.
‘I’ve learned most about the importance of teacher-student relationships to facilitate the completion of work, and the importance of praise to those who do meet expectations. Pupils often fell off the bandwagon of remote learning early on and I imagine for the most part this was due to feeling as though their work was not being assessed nor checked or appreciated. Verbal praise in a classroom is essential and if I could go back, I would have tried to provide more verbal feedback like video’s or live sessions praising specific pupils on work achieved.’
In learning these important lessons, the time spent teaching remotely could change the way that educators work in the future and Miss Tandy tells us there are certain tools that her and her fellow teachers will now be implementing into regular learning back in the classroom. ‘Google classroom is a fantastic tool to continue setting homework. It is a quicker and easier way of marking homework. Work can be marked as it is submitted and therefore means you do not get one big pile at once, which relieves the load and pressure. Teachers are constantly looking for tools like this.’
Although there’s so much pressure on teachers at the moment, it’s important to remember that the student’s parents have to play an important role in assisting their children’s learning. Whether it’s encouraging them to sit down and get their work done, or helping them through this period of decreased social interaction.
Miss Tandy was incredibly grateful for the support of her student’s parents, even the ones that struggled with the increased workload, stating that ‘the parents were excellent at working with pupils to help support their learning and complete work.’
Imagine if we all took the time to send a message of gratitude to the teachers and parents who are doing such a great job at adapting in these unusual times. With a little bit of kindness, we could encourage them to keep going, doing the best job they can despite the barriers have been in their way.
Have you had a great experience with remote schooling? Who are you grateful for? Say thank you the best way we know how, by sharing your message on sharegratitude.com