I am truly blessed to work with a number of outstanding teachers and head teachers in close proximity. I didn't know it, but I've accidentally stumbled on my dream job, creating ways to educate students on the wonders of technology and digital creation is more rewarding than I ever thought it could be (who'd have thought after 20+ halcyonic years in retail), and helping teachers navigate the ever changing world of technology makes me feel useful and valued.
Throughout the covid crisis, the schools I work in, have coped amazingly well, receiving praise from teachers and colleagues, pupils and parents for effective communication and workload distribution. But what has struck me is the difference with which the schools have done things. Whilst highly effective, their approaches are completely different and I know that these two opposing approaches aren't the only solutions that schools have adopted. There is a massive spectrum of solutions in-between these two methods, and much more perhaps that's overlooked. I've seen the use of Adobe Spark, See-Saw, Purple Mash, Google Classrooms, RM easimaths, Flipgrid and a number of others as well.
Every solution will have it's own merits. Each teachers experience will influence their choice of solution, and that's how it should be. If the solution is effective, and workable, then every teacher should have the freedom to use what they feel more comfortable with. Likewise, each head teacher will have their own methods for communicating with parents, checking in on the well being of pupils and team members, and that is the right way it should be too.
A number of Hashtags on Twitter have promoted more ideas than we realistically need, there are online art classes, junk modelling ideas, programming courses that are free from the government, in Wales we have Hwb, with a gamut of solutions and work projects to explore. Not only are the solutions overwhelming, but there are also hashtags to follow, like #tvttagteam #talkupteaching #teacher5oclockclub and more refreshingly #nobestwayoverall
And it's this last hashtag that strikes the chord with me and echoes the above. There is no best way, everyone is coping the best way that they can, using the tools that they have at their disposal. But I still have questions. What if many of the solutions we're using are excessively labour intensive? What if other strategies are much less effort. It's very likely that many teachers and head teachers are working unsociable hours with few breaks doing work that is very mentally demanding. From a call I had at the end of last week, it would appear that teachers are working more hard than they've ever had to before. The effect on the individual, working in isolation, without the immediate access to delegatory support, (teaching assistants and volunteers) is significant and worth exploring. The well being of the individual is way more important than the immediate need for results.
If you were to ask (yourself or a colleague), is the work you're are doing now more or less mentally demanding, and more or less time consuming? What would the answers be, what would your answer be? Would everyone answer be the same? This is the first time we have faced these challenges, so it's likely some of us have ways that are more effective than others. It's likely when we get back into school, many will feel refreshed and many might feel drained or exhausted. It's likely that many of the solutions and practices we're doing now may continue, and may improve our practices in future, even during term time, and it's looking likely, this won't be the last time this happens. So how do we prepare for the future and ensure every teacher and every head is prepared the best that they can be?
How do we ensure our well-being is given the focus it deserves, how do we ensure we do-well and what's the best way, and what part do we play to guarantee we care for everyone; head teachers, parents, pupils, teachers and assistants?
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