Back to school in times of Covid
From working behind static screens for so long, teachers are back in classrooms and asking for chalk. It’s all a bit odd.
Though Piacenza, with its posh prison vibes, makes me feel like an aristocrat that has committed heinous crimes, I’m happy to say at the twilight of the program that everything’s gone more or less fine.
To start with I’ve noticed certain behaviours from teachers as they plod their path back into a traditional classroom. Maybe you’ve noticed them too?
Eye contact and body language are integral to managing a class and selling a lesson. Yet for the first two days there’s glancing down at tables and sometimes talking into boards.
The social anxiety was still there and overcoming it wasn’t a simple transition. But after a few days there’s more engagement and movement. Some were a little within themselves at first, yet it was very rewarding to see staff gradually reclaiming their space and making it their own again.
Teaching online my planning often felt over dictated by ebooks, to the extent that I often didn’t feel that I had the same ownership of a language lesson. It all felt extremely prescriptive. It was easy to go through the motions, and not to question the thinking behind the stages. Online teaching from textbooks I found made me think less critically about teaching as a science, and I think on occasion I saw a number of lessons which had remained stuck in that rut. For me Kahoot has gone from being a gimmick to being a mainstay, yet I saw it invited into parts of a class where it really probably shouldn’t have, which I blame partially as a result of being over-reliant on it online.
This week, each and every opportunity to have lessons outside has been grasped, which may have been the case regardless of the pandemic, as the weather is still very warm, but something about an outside lesson does feel like a rebellion to being kept inside for so long. The response to outside lessons is very good.
Giving observations and feedback felt more rewarding than previously, namely because a number of teachers really needed their confidence to have that double shot in the arm. A number had forgotten just how good they were and were wracked with being overly self-critical. Telling staff, ‘we’re delighted to have you back’, ‘we’re lucky to have you teaching here’ felt very rewarding to say.
Overall, School during Covid is not the worst place to be, and it does take time to get back into the swing of things, and there is an unease when a student coughs or clears their throat, but teachers are resourceful creatures and have the art of thinking on their feet down just fine. Come September’s end, here’s to hoping that School with Covid feels just a little bit less weird.