The teachers of New Zealand have never deserved a break as much as they deserve one at the end of this week.
You started in late January and were at school until March 23rd, when suddenly you were sent home and you were expected to deliver programmes of learning from your kitchen, lounge or bedroom.
You did this as best you could while also ensuring your most vulnerable were catered for as they too went into lockdown. Then for two weeks, early “holidays”, you set up your teaching space, sourced resources, up-skilled, had your first zooms, struggled and persevered with mastering online platforms, tried them out, communicated, kept in touch and did your best to be prepared for the following weeks of “Learning at Home” or in your case “Teaching from Home”. All of this, while caring for whānau, helping your own kids with their learning and running households.
You were also beginning to miss your friends, family members and your colleagues. Then you launched into it, boots and all, with numerous teething problems, but ultimately with incredible success! Sometimes you looked outside at that beautiful autumn blue sky and thought about just closing the laptop and having a walk – and occasionally you did that and it kept you sane. However, most of the time you were online and digitally engaged with your children from 8:30 until late afternoon, encouraging, preparing, marking, giving feedback and communicating with all your parents. Never had individualised teaching been such a reality!
After a while you got into a rhythm and while not the same as face to face teaching, you were seeing the rewards of your labour as kids engaged with the work and connected with you in new ways. Then level 3…and suddenly you had to divide your time again! Somehow covid risk was less for you than anyone else in NZ and you could return to work, try and manage social distancing small groups of children and maintain the distance learning!
Many of you took turns caring for the few at school while also trying to keep the work going for the “at home” majority. A couple of weeks of this juggle and Level 2 arrived. Hooray – back to school and reuniting with colleagues (resisting the urge to hug them) and your kids (ditto) Then lining up, and soap, and sanitiser, and disinfectant spray and contact tracing, and moving furniture and well-being and staggered breaks and emails form parents…and more emails from parents…and requested meetings…and playground duties observing the complete disintegration of social distancing - until LEVEL 1! A welcome relief – you were able to set your class up how you wanted again and put a comforting arm around a child who needed it, hand in all the contact tracing forms to the office and enjoy the sight of parents milling about after school again! You had gained so much digital expertise you were already thinking about the ways your teaching would change since the whole lockdown experience. Many of you were already doing things in a different way and could see the benefits that the "At home Learning" brought. And you’re excited about this - but you’re also exhausted! As you should be at the end of the 21st week of a 22 week term!
You kept going, you showed NZ that teachers really want to teach and will do anything they can do to keep teaching. You were all amazing and I hope everyone of you enjoy your final week (5 days of play-based learning are definitely in order) before completely detaching, unplugging and totally relaxing for the first real school holiday of 2020!
Reprinted : NZ Teacher's Facebook Page
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