Two weeks ago it was World Book Day – a day filled with laughter and colourful costumes. Four weeks ago it was half-term and I wrote an article for True Education partnerships entitled – 5 Tips for Teachers to avoid Back-to-School Burnout – how redundant that post seems now!
Sometimes, the world shifts so quickly that I feel as if I am on a roller-coaster. Currently, the virtual roller-coaster I’m on is Thorpe Park’s ‘Stealth’. For those of you who haven’t been on it, you start the ride by sitting in your car watching the traffic lights – red, amber, green – GO! The hydraulic-launched roller coaster then propels you from 0-80 miles per hour in less than 2 seconds. It takes you up to Stealth’s peak of 62.5m where for a split-second you experience negative g-force and then…you plummet back down to earth at 80mph – you have a strange sense of free-falling the 62.5m. The ride then stops and you wish, no let me re-phrase that – I wished when it stopped that I hadn’t sworn the whole way round, but had instead enjoyed the view, the speed and the new experiences that I had had.
The last few days have felt like the beginning of the ride. Red (all is fine), amber (schools are closing, but they aren’t at all), green (welcome to the brave new world of teaching). The next few weeks and months hold so many unknowns but there are so many positives and I want to enjoy the view, the speed and the new experiences that I have.
Edtech – I have wanted to embrace technology such as Google Classroom for so long and yet it has never been a priority in my teaching. I am a primary teacher who is used to teaching face-to-face, so whilst I do have a Google Classroom and children are familiar with google docs and so on, I have never used it terribly much within my own classroom. Truth be known, I use it in my computing lessons but it is paper and pen for most other things – sorry Edtech people. This new dawn gives me a chance to learn new skills and hone them. I personally love technology and am excited about learning more about how it can support teaching and learning.
Freedom – The whole time I have been a teacher, I have danced to the tune of the latest government and their new curriculum and educational drives (which have often mirrored the current educational secretary’s own schooling experience). I have equally ensured that I have known the most up-to-date Ofsted framework and what they will expect to see when they descend! This hasn’t allowed for immense amounts of creativity on my part. My mother, who was also a teacher, has often talked about the days when she would do things like take her class for a Spring walk – sketching the buds and discussing how nature was changing. I have never had that freedom – I have always been harnessed by a tight National Curriculum and an Ofsted Framework. The next few weeks/ months give every teacher a freedom from this which I think is incredibly exciting. As teachers, we will absolutely ensure that all children (those in school and those learning remotely) will be given the best learning opportunities (within the current parameters) and we have the freedom to do it the way we see best. I read a tweet today, where one teacher was so excited about immersing her children for two weeks in ‘Malamander’ – how wonderful for her and the children. Let none of us miss this exceptional opportunity because it is different to what we are used to doing.
Community – As anyone who has read my blog before will know, I truly believe in the power of #Edutwitter and am passionate about empowering the ‘tiny’ voices – those educationalists who ask a question but are not always heard. I created #TinyVoiceTuesday and #TinyVoiceTuesdayUnites because of this – I wanted to create forums where tiny voices would be heard, responded to and supported and I am proud to say that I have. I genuinely don’t know what I would have done over the last few days without the online teaching community I now have on Twitter. I have got to know so many of them through #TinyVoiceTuesday and #TinyVoiceTuesdayUnites and regularly catch-up with them in person (direct messages) or through threads throughout the week. I know that Twitter is going to be so important to my wellbeing and the changing nature of my teaching in the next few months – I now have a number of my own questions for #TinyVoiceTuesday, so watch this space!
Had the Coronavirus hit the world thirty years ago, we wouldn’t have had: the internet; online communities; Google and other digital technology; the ability to distant-teach; the vast body of teaching and learning research there is. Whilst I am desperately unhappy that we are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, I truly believe that as educationalists working together and supporting one another we can do this. We have the knowledge, the skills and each other. So as hard as it is, try to enjoy the view, the speed and the new experiences that you have and help others to do so too!