Q&A with Steph: Teaching in the Current Climate

Q&A with Steph, a NSW Primary Teacher

We asked Steph, a NSW Primary Teacher, questions about her teaching career, the challenges and changes COVID-19 has brought to teaching and how she has adapted.

Where do you teach?

“A wonderful Christian School in the Hunter Valley.”

What year do you teach currently and what’s your favourite year to teach? 

This is my 6th year teaching. I began teaching on Kindy, and have also spent a few years teaching Year Four. I am currently teaching Year One, it’s hard to compare which I prefer better, but I have loved teaching the younger years because you see so much growth in such a short amount of time.”

How has your school adapted to COVID-19?

 “My school has been great in adapting to the changes caused by COVID-19. 

In Year One, we’re currently teaching through online videos, and using Class Dojo. Each day we send home welcome videos, lesson videos and activities to complete.  We have been catching up with our classes via ZOOM, which has been a joyful and fun experience with a ZOOM room full of lively 6 year olds.  Most teachers have been working from home, with a few teachers at school with the students unable to remain at home.

It will be interesting to see how schooling develops this throughout this term. It’s looking different every week!”

How are you now approaching your teaching – have you made any changes to your personal teaching style/lesson planning/delivery?

“We have had a BIG change to our teaching. We started filming our lessons while we were at school, and it felt like we were on the set of ‘PlaySchool’. Filming yourself can be very fun, but equally embarrassing. It’s hard to find the right amount of enthusiasm on video – I’m often over enthused, watch back and cringe listening to my high pitched, overly excited voice and singing!

We have four teachers on Year One, and love to team teach. We haven’t been able to do this whilst working from home and I have certainly missed working alongside my great team. Luckily, technology means we can still remain connected each day. 

Before COVID-19 we taught using the Explicit Direct Instruction model, which involves a lot of checking for understanding. This is tricky to do with online videos, but we are still trying to follow the same method, ensuring we demonstrate the strategy, allow the child time to complete the strategy with us via the video recording, and provide activities for the student to independently complete the strategy.”

What are you finding challenging about online education?

“I miss my class and the school community BIG TIME! The most challenging thing for me has definitely been missing that face to face interaction. Lucky for me, I absolutely love my grade team and have enjoyed our regular online Zoom chats together.  I have become more tech savvy, and learning new things each day which has helped with online delivery. I also have a husband who teaches High School aged students and he is very clever with technology, it’s been handy having him around for tips and tricks. My school is amazing, and my colleagues are constantly showing new ways to use technology to benefit our teaching.

Another big struggle has been balancing work and life. It’s hard to not spend every minute of every day working on updating lessons, and at times can be difficult to ‘switch off’ thinking about work. “

What changes might you keep or incorporate when life returns to ‘normal’?

“Definitely incorporating new technology. I can see how filming some components of lessons could be really beneficial.”

How have your students been responding?

“Each family is dealing with the current situation in the best way they can, for some this means they have the technology and time to dive straight into online learning. For others, they are dealing with lost jobs, sick family members and parents still needing to attend their workplace. It’s really tough seeing these families struggle during this time.”

Do you have a funny teaching story/anything that makes you laugh?

“There are too many to list, however I regularly get a big giggle from innocent yet inappropriate drawings from Kindy and Year One students.”

What’s your favourite teacher account to follow on Instagram? 

“I absolutely love following @agoodlittleteach – I find her content so encouraging and love seeing her teaching dress style.”

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