“Every day the clock resets. Your wins don’t matter. Your failures don’t matter. Don’t stress on what was, fight for what could be.“ -Sean Higgins
What will learning look like in the new school year? How will social distancing be practiced effectively? Can you teach effectively from the front of the classroom? Will I be able to teach effectively without going to help individual students? How will I manage to resist walking around my class to check work? OMG! Can you believe that much of what many of us called normal, will suddenly be … a thing of the past (at least for a while)?
WOW! Ok. Now breathe. As my 3-year-old daughter would say (when it is convenient for her) ‘mommy count 1, 2, 3, 4. Breathe and don’t be angry’.
I am also saying this to you, as much as I am trying to reassure myself: we will be alright. We are teachers! This profession makes us resilient and very adaptable to changing times and seasons and this will be one change that I am confident we will sail through and land safely on shore (perhaps extremely exhausted).
So, now we got over talking about the main hurdle, let’s think about how we will be planning for our students.
As you are very much aware, depending on your own country and school statistics, the rate of student engagement has been significantly lower online as opposed to face to face.
As such, two of the strategies I believe may be helpful for the ‘catch-up curriculum’ is to consider
- Implementing a delayed scheme of work.
This is where the plan for a typical year as it relates to the topics taught, is put on hold for the first half term. This would then allow teachers to focus on some of the most fundamental and connected topics that were covered remotely during the lockdown. There are a number of ways to go about selecting these topics, for example students can be assessed in the first week back at school to gather information on where the biggest gaps exist and use these as the topics to zoom in on. Or if data was collected during the lockdown, this could be used to inform this intervention.
2. Targeted or strategic weekly topic interventions.
This is perhaps more pleasing to the ears, as the thought of pressing the pause button on the curriculum may be too drastic for many to consider. So, my next suggestion is to use the information from an early September assessment (baseline assessment of where students should be at the start of the new academic year or using the end of year exam that would have been done had schools not closed) to plan weekly intervention lessons. The topics to be focused on should be those that are most essential to bridging gaps.
NOTE: While there are talks of U.K schools allocating extra curricula time to core subjects (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools#section-3-curriculum-behaviour-and-pastoral-support), it is very important that this ‘extra’ time be given serious thought on how effectively this time is used. A large number of students will still have gaps to be filled. Also, for those students whose knowledge is secure, considerations should be given on how they can be stretched and challenged.
Whatever method is used, the planning needs to be carefully considered, implemented and monitored.
I am very keen to hear how you or department is planning for next year, so do email me or comment below.
Now, did I hear the word FREE? I did. Below are links to some websites, many of which I am a regular user (especially since COVID-19 lockdown).
Website to explore interactive teaching of mathematics
My top four websites to get GCSE or A-Level, CXC/CSEC past papers and help with lesson planning (including topic tests):
Finally, I could not end without ensuring that we are bettering our best by catering to our own development as teachers: here are a list of websites that I recommend for your personal professional development to ensure that as teachers we are ever sharp and kept abreast in our field.
FREE Professional Development courses to explore
Well-being / mental health
Teaching and Learning as well as some general education courses
Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)
THE FINE PRINT: A number of these professional development sites were recommended to me by colleagues and I have used some of them. This is not a promotion for any of these sites but rather helping to add to your list of websites to explore.
I am now officially on HOLIDAY (from blogging at least). Thank you for reading, commenting, sharing and joining me on this learning journey. ‘See’ you back the first Sunday in September (or October) 2020.
All the best for the planning of your new school year and ENJOY THE SUMMER as much and as safely as you can.