The last time I had the time and energy to blog, we were on our way back into the classroom after 7 weeks of remote learning. At the time, I didn’t have the energy to think about what the future held or whether we’d be remote learning again any time soon, I was just focused on getting back into the classroom and all that it would entail.
We lasted 3 weeks in the classroom. 3 blissful, hectic weeks.
This term of remote learning, our 2.0, has been different and it deserves its own narrative – 10 weeks down and one more to go as we start Term 4 online.
My learnings and thoughts (which I apologise in advance for if they’re slightly disordered – it’s been a long term and 2 weeks holiday hasn’t quite recharged the batteries!):
- I’ve learnt a lot. Nothing provides professional learning and growth like being thrown in the deep end and knowing that we were going to be doing this all term certainly was deep. I wanted to get it right or, more accurately, get less wrong. My co-teacher and I have done hours of professional learning, reading and trying things that have pushed us a bit further and a bit further still. And I’m really grateful for that.
- I’ve focused more on what matters. Last time, the hours were long and exhausting. This time, still long but not as exhausting. I think I developed strategies to manage things more efficiently but I also got better at really working on what mattered and putting the rest in an ‘oh well’ basket. I’ve been grateful for the support of my school and the wider Department of Education in assisting with this by reducing most non-essential things and I’ve tried to match them by being really discriminating myself.
- I’ve realised I can’t fix it all. This is related to the above point. In remote learning 1.0, I think I tried so hard to make it not like school but equivalent to it. This time around, I’ve tried hard to make it the best it can be and not compare it to school. This has also had to extend to those students we haven’t been able to engage, despite all of our efforts. We are human and can only do so much, particularly when our interactions with students, really, are by invitation only. If they don’t log in or answer the phone, I don’t have a great deal left to get their attention. I don’t want that to sound like I gave up as that’s not at all what happened – I just realised where the boundaries were of what I could do.
- It’s a team effort. I am fortunate enough to be in a teaching team with 3 of the best educators you could be lucky enough to meet and it has made life so much easier to have them around. We lean on each other when needed and kick each other if the leaning has gone on too long and a kick is needed. I’ve also seen more and more that our students are part of that team and we’re all in it together. They’ve become so good at being supports for each other and, sometimes, us too. Each morning, as they fill out our Google form roll, there’ll be at least one ‘thanks for what you do’ comment that makes it all worthwhile.
- It’s awful but an adventure at the same time. Our students have been absolute superstars. Even on days they didn’t feel like it, they’d turn up and ‘just keep swimming’. As awful as much of it was though, they weren’t just biding time – they were making the most of whatever we had. We still managed to have fun and frivolity with an end of term movie day, complete with dress ups, decorations and party food. We have continued with our Lego robotics team, via home deliveries of packages of Lego and snacks so we could Webex in, build and party together. Even ordinary days were less ordinary with each day getting a more interesting name and some getting animal mascots (like Turtily tantalising Tuesday and Wacky Wellbeing Wednesday, also known as hump day). We have watched their resilience ebb and flow and know, as much as this has been a difficult time, they’ll still walk away with some happy memories and some rich learning. And so will we.