“When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge.” —Tuli Kupferberg
Like so many things that have been postponed, cancelled or spoiled by COVID, teaching has had its challenges with this pandemic. For many of us teachers, we are now forced to teach literally from the front of the room or our desk -whether you sit or stand or walk 5 steps to and from the white/blackboard is a matter of perspective…. or just the need for a bit of exercise.
The following is an account of a conversation I have almost every week since we returned to school at the beginning of September:
Student: ‘miss, can you come please?’ or ‘miss, I need help, come please.’
me: ‘Ah, no. Remember we are trying to limit the spread of the virus so I have to stay in my bubble… and you in yours’ or I simply raise my eyebrows and hold out my red lanyard to show them that I am afraid of the virus… even if they are not. (Whenever I do this gesture they almost always laugh, at me I suppose)
This virus has placed me in a box, with the marker tape on the floor to remind me not to stray… robbing me of that individual support I love to give to struggling students or that need to check on what my troublesome students have not been doing or to congratulate and reassure those working ever so hard and making progress.
“Adaptability is about the powerful difference between adapting to cope and adapting to win.” —Max McKeown
Ultimately, since we do not have much of an option, for our safety and that of our students and our families, we have to deal with this and learn to think outside of the box.
Consequently, I must admit (hope you will not be jealous) but my school (and HOD) are amazing and had a good vision to invest in essential technology before the pandemic. I am very grateful that we have Wacom Graphics Tablets and visualisers to demonstrate to the pupils while we sit at our desk. These are tools that help to make the lessons interactive, especially in our current climate, and are very useful tools for online teaching also. So get your school to invest in them if they haven’t already.
Another way that we have been coping in my maths department where marking and feedback is concerned, is that we have been making use of Do Now / Lesson Starter Booklets far more often than usual. We use these to assess prior knowledge and close gaps that would have widen due to the lockdown. We then collect these in a container weekly or bi-weekly and leave them to ‘cool off’ over three days before we then check what the students have been doing, or not doing, and to monitor the progress that they have been making, or sadly the lack of progress. Nevertheless, these booklets help to give additional insight into the learning that has been taking place and we are using them to help us plan strategic interventions where necessary. (Read my article on Effective Lesson Starters to get a better idea of what this booklet look like:https://easymathslpt.com/2020/02/16/effective-lesson-starters/(opens in a new tab) )
Thinking outside the box is a common phrase that most of us are familiar with and perhaps have even been doing willingly. In this pandemic, our limitations, our constraints and our inability to teach in our familiar settings coupled with our need to help our students learn and grow are the perfect ingredients for the perfect challenge that I am confident we will rise above and surpass our imaginations to better our best.
As always, I look forward to reading your emails and your comments. How are you coping?