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We’re passionate about all things schools, so we wanted to delve a little deeper into some of the current topics around education, teaching, jobs and the school system.

Take a look at some of our longer reads to learn about what’s going on in the world of teaching.

Who am I? Asking what a teacher is to children in the current climate.

During the Coronavirus pandemic, more and more teachers are questioning their role as educators, and asking themselves: who am I? With children spending so much of their time in schools as it is, teachers have always been another constant in their lives. But with the added factor of children not being able to socialise in the same way when outside of school, does that responsibility now fall to the teachers too?

Edward, aged 12, from a local secondary school said:Our teacher comes up with fun activities to keep us interested and we learn something.” But surely there’s more to teaching than that, especially during COVID-19, right?

It’s well documented that social interaction is a key to childhood development, so it’s no wonder it’s taken seriously when we’re looking at how best to educate our children. They need a balance between learning and listening, and socialising and experimenting. On top of this, they need care, a sense of belonging and knowledge that they’re loved. These different criteria are fulfilled usually through a mixture of time at school, time at home and time elsewhere, normally undertaking something extracurricular or social.

But now that schools have to follow strict rules on distancing, and children can’t play as freely as they used to when not in school, should we be looking to our teachers to provide those additional social elements to our kids?

Jane, aged 11, certainly felt supported at primary school. “I love my teacher because she never gave up on me.”

Originally, teachers were there to teach a subject and nothing more. As society moved on, they have started to play a more hollistic role, providing children with emotional support and a place where they can ask questions and navigate social interactions with their peers.

Alice, aged 9, said: “I think my teacher is really caring because she always asks how I am.”

As a result of this shift in role requirements, children end up building on these social interactions outside of school too.

But, Coronavirus has limited that building, meaning that school, being one of the few places remaining open during the lockdowns, has had to fill the gap. Teachers are more and more forming a part of children’s social lives, and that goes for all age groups.

Lily aged 6, from a local primary school said: “I feel sad when I can’t hug my friends, but my teacher makes me happy again.”

This isn’t all that surprising though, looking at the way that children interact with their teachers. They’re around them every weekday, for a number of hours, and they use their teachers as examples or role models, be that consciously or subconsciously. Seeing behaviour is a way to learn behaviour, so just by spending time with their teachers, children could very possibly pick up ethics, actions or even temperaments from them.

Take Joe for example. He’s eight years old and is currently at primary school. He said: “My teacher’s the best because he makes me smile every day.”

So what does this mean for the teacher themselves? Is this a lot of pressure? It sure sounds like it when we first look at it. But in reality, this is more a privilege than anything else, and no teacher goes into teaching without some desire to imprint positivity on children. Teachers face long hours, work to take home even when they leave the ‘office’ and a pressure to do right by young people, but they are also the ones who can offer children a safe space to talk about their problems, a place to laugh, make mistakes comfortably and learn from them and a space to discover what they desire in their social interactions.

All this value comes from the person behind the teacher. During Coronavirus, our teachers have taken one for the team, and absorbed another responsibility on top of their usual ones, making themselves not just a learning hub for their pupils, but a social one too.

Ruby, aged 15 from York Secondary School said: “A teacher to me is someone I appreciate as they help me learn and adapt for the future. I wouldn’t be where I am without them!”

Lockdown 3: Lessons learned from around the UK

It’s safe to say it’s been a tricky time for teachers and educators recently, but with every cloud, comes a silver lining. They may always be busy teaching lessons, but we wanted to know what lessons they had learned through the past few lockdowns. We, the staff here at WorkwithSchools, asked a few of our teacher friends to share their learnings with us. Here’s what we found out.

Primary school teacher in Newcastle:

“It’s been hard not being able to discuss and highlight misconceptions in real time. It’s very different having to create PowerPoints/videos describing methods and then presenting those over the internet.

Another challenge has been working with families who don’t have access to tablets and computers, and trying to do the best for that child individually. An extension of this is working with EFL families; trying to help them with operating zoom and other internet-based platforms.

But, like every other teacher and educator out there, I’ve adapted as best I can to try and give each child the best teaching possible.”

Secondary school maths teacher in York:

“I have to say, it’s been a pleasure to be able to put a bit more focus on the mental health and productivity of work of my kids rather than their grades and the amount of work they produce. Of course, it’s all important, but ultimately at a time like this, we need to care for our pupils and make sure they know that so long as they’re doing their best, we can’t ask for anything more.

Personally I phone all members of my form group to check they’re okay because I won’t see them every day.”

Primary school teacher in Glasgow:

“I’m upskilling on ways to engage my learners. This means exploring new apps, new platforms and any other kind of technology that looks like it could be useful to add some variety to my teaching.

Take yourself through it slowly. Keep it simple, don’t run before you can walk, and remember you’re doing great.”

Key stage 1 primary school teacher in York:

“Something I’ve learned since not being in the classroom with the kids every day, is to allow them to just be children by encouraging them to do something each day that makes them happy; not just school work.”

Key stage 2 primary school teacher in Manchester:

“This lockdown seems much harder and much more intense than the last. Expectations for remote learning are a lot higher and on the flip side, my own kids’ school schedules are a lot more intense! So the days are full-on for us all.  From this, I’ve learned the benefit of getting outside and doing some exercise. It gives me time to get out of my head and relax. It’s great for the kids to burn off a bit of energy too!”

All in all, it seems from something really quite difficult, our teachers have found the positives.

If you’re looking to get into supply teaching, or you just want to ask a question about how supply teaching is operating during COVID-19, give us a call on 01904 554195.

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