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“Without training and support for tech, teachers are drowning”

In Part 2 of an anonymous blog for Parent Zone, a secondary school teacher reveals the real impacts of Covid-19 on education staff. Read Part 1 here 

The mood in my school leading up to December was the lowest I’d known in my career. 

The first lockdown in March 2020 was scary and sometimes surreal, but – I’ll be honest here – it was nice sometimes to be able to take a breath. The atmosphere in school was terrible at the time, and most members of staff were relieved when not having to deal with horrific, rude behaviour from pupils every day. 

I think a full return to schools in September 2020 was not appropriate. Partial opening would have allowed for better social distancing in school and less crowded corridors. It  seemed strange that my friends and family were isolating and going out for daily walks, while I was navigating corridors filled with pupils, the majority of whom were still not compliant with the mask-wearing rule. Many parents were completely unsupportive of school and our expectations that pupils would share masks and not cross between year-group bubbles. 

“It nearly broke the lot of us”

A partial reopening of schools would have allowed us to be better prepared for the current expectations around live online lessons. The reality was different.

In the autumn term, teachers were racing from room to room, dealing with the challenging behaviour of pupils who’d been out of education and any routine for months. We had parents who didn’t believe that schools were safe to open and thought it was somehow the teachers’ fault. And we had the simple difficulties of teaching a class without being able to touch their work or go near them. 

It all nearly broke the lot of us.

“My workload probably tripled”

At Christmas, the Department for Education dropped a bombshell on secondary schools that they’d have to provide a live learning experience for pupils - in spite of many of our pupils not having the technology to access it. 

It has meant that my workload has probably tripled. But it is worth it for the impact that the live lessons are having on the pupils that are able to access them and are engaging with them. 

My school has prioritised staff wellbeing. In schools where leadership has been less mindful of workload, staff are drowning. 

We were given two weeks to practice the technology we’d be using to deliver the live lessons and to plan content, with additional training and support. 

Not all schools across our area have been so lucky. Many were told on the Monday that live lessons would commence on the Tuesday – and teachers were offered little or no training. 

“We’re tired – but at least it’s all about the teaching”

It was hard seeing stories in the media. Any teacher who said schools were not safe to be open was accused of being work shy, when in fact there were genuine worries about safety.

It’s reported that schools are closed when in fact they are very much open – and most teachers are working much longer hours than they ordinarily would. An additional responsibility is making wellbeing phone calls to pupils, as well as chasing up live lesson attendance. 

Many teachers have been expected to maintain their usual teaching duties with no allowances made for those with childcare issues and similar challenges. 

We’re tired now with the workload – but at least it’s all about the teaching. 

Images: amixstudio/, HarryRendón/

Read Part 1 of our anonymous blog: “Digital poverty is leaving our pupils years behind”

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