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Learning to adapt to the challenge of lockdown
For teachers: this is your time to show why you chose to be teacher, to demonstrate the passion you have to unlock ideas and knowledge in young minds and to connect with our young people in the most positive of ways, in the most difficult of times.
Sure, it may be challenging, some days it may be exhausting, especially if you are also a parent with children at home, but you have the commitment and the resilience to take on the huge disruption to our world.
Be flexible, be patient, focus on the key elements of your subject matter, and adapt your teaching style; have realistic expectations of your students and above all, be kind to yourselves.
There will be occasions when technology quite simply does not work, or you do not strike the right note with your lessons, but take comfort in the certainty that you are doing your best.
When engaging with students via Google Classroom/Meets, make sure you are there, and connected to the students for your timetabled classes.
You will get to know your students on a different level, you will gain insights that you never would have in our busy school environment.
You will see the modest, quiet students who are desperate to be recognised and acknowledged and now go the extra distance to achieve well; you will see students who find it so hard to believe in themselves that they freeze when you interact with them, or when they have to sit a test, but because you are communicationg remotely, they can suddenly break through those barriers; you will see students who have never stood out in class, but who excel when they collaborate and co-operate online; and you will see students who cannot access your lessons, because their bubble is in chaos, but you can give them support and a sense of purpose.
Lesson preparation will take longer. You will need more energy to deliver your lessons, and you will need to take breaks. In that way you will be able to continue teaching with patience, kindness and enthusiasm that brings your students back to you every day.
You need to know that, no matter the obstacles you face on a personal level during lockdown, you are making a difference to our young people. For them, social interaction and a sense of community are the key; this enforced physical distancing is alien and unsettling, so your contribution is invaluable. It gives them structure and routine.
And for our students, your teachers have made sacrifices during your holidays, working behind the scenes to find ways to deliver a robust programme to you. We have so many heroes on the front line of our response to this global pandemic, and your teachers are there too, on the home front – for you and your family, and your future.
So listen to your teachers, turn up for their class, show them respect and honour their commitment to you.
Linda Vink – teacher, administrator and community volunteer.