Relief Sets In: Teaching Amidst Coronavirus

Relief Sets In:
Teaching Amidst Coronavirus

I entered the early school holidays in a state of paralysis.

To be clear, I always enter the school holidays in some sort of zombie-fied state. It’s near impossible to make it to the end of term without clawing your way through your front door on the last day and collapsing on the couch from physical, mental and emotional exhaustion.

But this time, it was different. I left Term 1 not knowing how long it would be until I would teach again.

They say a change is as good as a holiday, but I got a change and a holiday all at once at it floored me. These holidays, I wandered from room to room, sometimes stopping to stare blankly at a wall or flick through a cookbook, never actually baking anything. I checked the letterbox roughly ten thousand times in 3 weeks. I achieved nothing. I produced nothing. I read a thousand instagram posts on how it is okay to produce or achieve nothing during isolation, and still felt guilty – and still did nothing.

I was probably – like tons of others – going through some sort of grief or anxiety based on the uncertainty of this time. I was extremely worried about what school would look like after the holidays ended. I was genuinely sad that I wouldn’t get to see and work with my beautiful class for an undetermined amount of time. I was worried that my kids would miss out and that as a teacher I wouldn’t be able to provide well enough for them. I was struggling to see how I could adapt what I do to do it so differently.

I felt so paralysed that I couldn’t plan. I couldn’t read blogs or tweets with ideas about teaching during Coronavirus. I got rid of Facebook so I wouldn’t have to see what everyone else was doing. I stopped talking to teacher friends about work. I just could not get my head around it.

I just finished a curriculum day with my brilliant school, and there was lots to get my head around. Lots of new things and lots of things we’ll just have to try and see how they go.

But the thing that stood out for me was how many great things we have prepared for our students. Now that the school wheel is no longer turning like it used to, there’s no room for fluff – we are thinking about what’s essential. What has to stay. What is worth the effort to get through to our students from a distance. What message we want to send about learning. And it’s good.

Our kids will be

-setting intentions for each day… developing the learning asset of managing their own time.

-collaborating with peers to figure out how to attack problems and give each other feedback.

-undertaking a beautiful balance of game-based, problem solving, investigative maths.

-reflecting on their learning… what made them happy, what was difficult, where to next…

-checking in with teachers often – teachers who will meet students where they are and gently guide their next steps.

-undertaking their own investigations and projects based on their interests.

-publishing and sharing their projects, investigations and ideas with an authentic audience (peers, families, communities).

This is the kind of learning we should have been facilitating all along.

And not a worksheet in sight.

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2 thoughts on “Relief Sets In: Teaching Amidst Coronavirus

  1. Thank you for pulling yourself out of paralysis to post Emily. With so much written about technology and synchronicity, it was refreshing to have something from a pedagogical perspective. I must admit that after finishing the post I kept thinking ‘yeah but’, then realising that I was caught up in my own prejudices. It also reminds me of a provocation from Edna Sackson, who asks:

    What if, instead of trying to replicate or reinvent school, we allowed this to be a time of creativity? What if we took advantage of the way limitations can encourage innovation?

    1. Thanks for Edna’s post – I hadn’t seen it. I’m only a few days in but already I’m thinking about what I’ll do SO differently when we’re back in the classroom, to try and capture a bit of what’s happening remotely. This really feels like a chance to think about what school COULD look like…

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