The Effect of Covid-19 on My Classroom

Covid-19 has been our biggest challenge yet. We have had to change and re-change our plans numerous times, adapt to new styles of teaching and enforce physical distancing with children (no easy task!). With Auckland in the midst of its second lockdown, I've seen lots of teachers try to be positive about the experience and many more vent their frustrations. But I don't think it's so black and white. I'd like to share the real impact of Covid-19 on my classroom; the good, the bad and the ugly pragmatic.

The Good

When I reflected on my journey through the last lockdown, I saw myself grow and my teaching improve as we progressed through each alert level. After returning to the classroom, I was providing more opportunities for hands-on learning, my pastoral care improved through more of a focus on hauora (wellbeing) and I was giving my students more agency.

Now that we're in a second lockdown, I am further adapting my practice and growing as a teacher - growth that will last long after Covid.

We've been participating in more 'hands-on' activities since our first lockdown

The Bad

There is another side of Covid-19, however. 

During the last lockdown, I was anxious that students absent from remote learning would regress in their reading levels. I was pleased to find that they had at least maintained it. I was content with a lack of progress - something that no teacher should really be happy with. Still, I had 6 months left with my learners, and I was optimistic about making the most of this time and getting through the curriculum. 

This second lockdown, a lot of this optimism has faded. I know I can't be the only teacher who feels this way. When I look at my curriculum overview, I know there are areas that simply can't be covered. Learning new concepts just takes far longer in lockdown. Even when we physically come back to school, I know there will be students who take a few weeks to return out of fear of a resurgence. I know there are students who can't connect to online teaching, who have now missed 12+ weeks of school. 

It's a hard reality, but it's one that we have to accept. Lockdowns are outside of our (teachers) control, and we must have faith that our children will bounce back. 

                   We used the Kindness Project to boost student morale                    

The Pragmatic

That's the good and the bad. Now how are we going to actually address these new issues?

It's time to think carefully about how we will respond to our students when we return to the classroom. I think one thing that we cannot ignore is our students' anxiety; this lockdown came as a surprise to us and left many of my students feeling unsure of things. I don't want to increase this anxiety by trying to rush them through the content that we have not covered. I still need to prioritise my students wellbeing, while trying to support their learning as best as possible.

I will think carefully about my students' most pressing needs and respond to them. For example, I have noticed that my year sevens' biggest gaps are in decimals, so I will plan some really thorough lessons on this when we return to class. I won't try to rush through the remainder of the maths achievement objectives in six weeks, as my students would learn very little from this approach. 

At the same time, I will continue a dialogue of setting routines and making home learning work, in case we end up going back into lockdown in term four. This is something that really paid off for me during this lockdown, as I have managed to get four more learners from my home class on board with online learning, who I did not see during the first lockdown. 

Kia kaha tātou. We've done this once, we'll do it again and we'll keep on learning.


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