It has been a difficult year for everyone, but despite these challenges it has been encouraging to hear some inspiring stories from Scholars that have continued to not only develop and thrive themselves, but also to support their own students and their colleagues.
Our Scholars Felicia Hebbes, Jessica Robinson, Tom Habing and Sophie Jeropoulos gave us some insights into how the pandemic affected their schools.
How has your school adapted to lockdowns, self-isolation, and remote teaching?
Felicia Hebbes: “My school made an incredible adjustment when the lockdowns began and, despite the unprecedented circumstances, continued to support both staff and students to carry on with a sense of structure and normality. In the first lockdown, I was finishing my second term as a trainee teacher, so I finished my training year by developing my skills remotely. Though not what we expected, I thoroughly enjoyed having the chance to do a range of independent professional development courses whilst designing independent work for students to complete at home.”
Tom Habing: “The transfer to online learning was both strange and yet familiar. Although the method of delivery had changed, I found the fundamental skills of teaching to be exactly the same no matter the delivery method. I immensely enjoyed trialling different teaching styles and using technology to my advantage to make my lessons as interactive as they could possibly be.”
Sophie Jeropoulos: “COVID-19 was scary for a lot of people. Lots of children were anxious, some did not want to come to school because they were scared, others wanted to come in to school, because the thought of being at home was simply too much! Luckily, it was all handled very well by our school community – we had the school open for children of key workers and vulnerable students. These students, and the staff supervising them, were tested weekly to ensure safety and teaching and learning was remote for the most part.
The students followed their timetable and knew which of their lessons were live lessons, on Teams in our case, or remote. The students were trained on how to use Teams in the Autumn term by their computing teachers to prepare for the event of another lockdown, which they all found useful.”
Reflecting on the last year, has anything changed in your teaching life?
Felicia: “There are so many positive things that I have taken from the recent months! For example, over the recent lockdown, I explored ways to manage my workload through self-marking assessment tools that can be utilised back in the classroom. Also, when teaching over video calls, I began to think very carefully about my clarity in lessons and was constantly considering how I could ensure the students knew exactly what I wanted them to do at all times. This reflection is something that I have definitely been able to translate to the classroom.”
Jessica Robinson: “The impact that it had on my teaching is that I learnt so much about technology and new ways to do things. Another is that I tried new ways to teach things to make them more accessible to pupils when they were at home.
The lockdown allowed me to reorganise my priorities and leave my work at work! The lockdown also gave me the opportunity to do lots of CPD, make my classroom cute with new displays and I also joined the Institute Of Physics early careers mentoring programme which I find really useful and supportive.”
Tom: “I have noticed that many of my younger students have become far more independent thinkers as during lockdown; they could not ask me questions every time they got stuck. This has made them far better problem solvers during class.
The best part of my job is talking to students and colleagues every day. Collecting and sharing stories. Inventing new and weird ways for students to visualise the world of maths. I feel very lucky to have my hobby as my career.”
Sophie: “Patience, patience, patience. The children are still adapting to their new environment. They just came out of lockdown and now have brand new expectations. Be patient and kind with them, they will come around. Also remember that nothing is permanent. A bad lesson does not make you a bad teacher. Take the time to reflect and improve for next time. This is a very demanding job, don’t let the day-to-day pressure take away from the joy you have when you are teaching.”