Today is thank a teacher day, and we would like to take this opportunity to say thanks to all of the teachers, teaching assistants and school staff across the UK, who work tirelessly every day to take care of children and young people.
In recent times, as with many other professions, the teaching profession has been turned on its head due to the COVID-19 lockdown, with teachers and students separated, and learning taking place online.
We spoke to five teachers about how they’re coping in lockdown, and what they love the most about teaching…
“Like most lockdown experiences, teaching in lockdown has been very surreal. As I have asthma, I haven’t seen my children face to face since March. I send weekly ‘home-learning’ tasks to them which I try to make as fun as possible whilst also taking into account that lots of them have limited resources, and many parents are working from home whilst trying to home-school numerous children. Being apart from them, it’s difficult to know if they understand the learning, if they are finding it difficult or too easy or if they have enough support, but we’re all just trying to do the best we can.
“One of the positives though, is that the parents at my school have been overwhelmingly supportive. We speak regularly on the phone and I have been touched by how appreciative they have been, and how much they care about teachers as people.
“Last week a parent said to me, ‘I’m not worried about [my child] because I’m not sending him back to school. I’m worried about all the teachers going into school who might catch the virus.’ Another told me, ‘Education is second to health. Your health and our families health is the most important.'”
— Laura, primary school teacher.
“Many of the teenagers I was mentoring were vulnerable and some quite damaged. They’ll have left school this summer and I’ll never see them again. I hope they’re doing OK – I do think about them a lot, and miss the banter”
— Teaching assistant from a school for excluded teenagers
As a primary school teacher, during lockdown I have been concerned about the mental health and wellbeing of the pupils I teach. Last week my class were tasked with writing a personal letter to a friend or a family member, detailing what they had been doing during the lockdown.
“One pupil decided to write her letter to me. When I was marking her work, it became apparent that she had been struggling, she said that she was “Sometimes sad, sometimes happy, and sometimes bored.” She went on to say that she was “Sad and lost without school because I love it” but also added that she was “having fun with my family and I’m trying to do well.”
“There are positives too. Today it was reassuring and heartening to see a picture of my Year 3 pupils engaged in a video call with each other, every single one of them smiling and excited. Video calls like this, thanks to technology have thankfully played an important role in alleviating the children’s anxiety, also allaying fears that they may have become distant and isolated from one another. Scenes like this reassure us that the impact on mental health may not be as bad as initially feared. There is light at the end of the tunnel.”
— Dan, Primary school teacher
“I like being a teacher because every day is interesting and different! I am always learning new things and everyday brings new surprises and challenges. Even in the hardest days the children’s smiles and happy faces are so heartwarming and rewarding.”
— Primary school teacher
“20th March 2020 is a day that will resonate with me for the rest of my life. Teaching and school life was turned on its head and a new wave of learning had begun. When I returned to work as the lockdown was eased, our school felt eerily quiet and as though the heart and soul had been taken from it.
“We’ve now adapted to the ‘new normal’ and I’m filled with pride with how the children, parents and staff have adapted and coped during these unprecedented times. I take comfort knowing we are one day closer to the School gates opening to ALL our children and seeing the buzz of excitement return once again.”
— Kate, primary school teacher