No one has been excluded from having to adapt their personal and work lives to the new restrictive circumstances. As teachers, we had been left wondering how exactly to cater to our students in this new world. Even as some of us go back to school, we will have to completely change our old ways to form new habits and develop regulated routines. The lockdown has encouraged us to adjust the standard methods of teaching and work on our skills in order to reach our students.
The skills teachers need:
With no time to prepare, you might have felt like a ‘deer caught in the headlights’ when you heard the news regarding lockdown. You might, justifiably, still feel that way. One thing is for sure: this time has taught us that we need to be ready to adjust our routine when the situation calls for it.
Here are some of the skills teachers have needed, and will continue to need as we navigate through lockdown.
Being confined to your home has made it easy to stay in bed an extra couple of hours, or keep your eyes glued onto Netflix. It’s up to your self-discipline now to hold you accountable and get you off the couch. Although working from home may feel as if you don’t have work at all, you still have to be productive and meet deadlines. There’s homework to mark, lessons to plan, and much of the same admin. If you let the work pile up now, you’ll have a mountain of catching up to do later.
If you have not started teaching again yet, you’re responsible for making sure that you’re prepared to go back to school when that day comes. As we start phasing back into a new schooling approach, you will need to make sure you are managing your time wisely, and putting a good work ethic into place.
2. Technological understanding
There is no more grace as a teacher to be stuck in your old ways. If you had been avoiding your laptop all this time, lockdown has finally called you to face your technological fears. Now is the time to work on your computer skills – explore Windows, and download online platforms such as Zoom, Snapplify, and any other programs that might be useful to you. These skills will be essential to carry through into our new way of education, as we will continue to make intentional use of digital technology.
3. Keeping all your learners engaged
Part of adapting to the teaching restrictions means we have had to figure out new ways of meeting the needs of all types of learners.
As we start meeting with our students again in a controlled environment, we will not be able to jump back into our familiar teaching styles. Instead, we’ll have to adjust our techniques to be distanced, yet engaging. For example, if a student needs one-on-one assistance, prepare a space in your class where this is possible, but still safe.
4. Navigating students’ emotions
Lastly, as much as our job is to encourage a child’s educational development, we cannot deny that in a time like this, our students need our emotional support, too. It’s important that we don’t place too much emphasis on academics and forget that we are all dealing with something much bigger. Be empathetic with your learners; acknowledge that life is not the same and that we are all experiencing something difficult.
The world didn’t end when we went on lockdown – we are only changing our old ways and making something new. It would be a waste of time to sit around waiting for life to return to ‘normal’. Rather, use this time to improve your teaching skills. Develop your mindset to adapt to where we are going, rather than getting stuck on where we are coming from.
“The key to success to focus on goals, not obstacles.” – Unknown