Headteacher help during Covid-19

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Should more headteachers teach in their schools, so they can fully understand the difficulties their staff are facing?

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Beyond walking the corridors and being on duty more times a day than a headteacher thought possible, getting to know what it is like for their staff to teach and the nature of their students is incredibly helpful. It allows headteachers to be more understanding of their colleagues who are “busting a gut” teaching 15 lessons or more on the bounce with little break and sometimes commuting between each one.  

Keep in mind that now students’ and staff are back within the school grounds that Covid-19 has not gone away and still is prominent and can affect learning/teaching. 

Everything is Heightened

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Let’s paint a picture, imagine:  

  • In the current circumstances-where, you might have for the fourth or fifth time that day walked across the school site, pulling your “mobile resource unit” into a classroom where the students have already sat down and once again you have to summon up the energy to reclaim authority over the room. This is something that you usually take in your stride but the tiniest thing can tip you over the edge. 

Something as simple as this can be a teacher’s demise…Covid-19 has put a different view on how we can devise and plan a lesson. Keeping pupils engaged, the lack of time to teach and actually relax can take a toll on a person let alone a teacher teaching the same lesson’s over and over. Adding the Covid-19 regulations, precautions and uncertainty can teachers’ more stressed than ever! 

Hygiene measures are time-consuming

Remembering at the end of every lesson to leave enough time to allow students to wipe the desk with antibacterial spray, disposable cloths and rubber gloves, is a challenge. When some teachers want to check the recall of what pupils have learnt that lesson is disrupted by cleaning rather than checking the advancement of their learning it can become difficult.  

The time management skills that teachers need is already extensive as the amount of time that they put into planning lessons, taking on playground duties, marking etc. But not to also embed a necessary cleaning aspect into their pupil’s classroom routines is beneficial but also hurting their lesson plans and pupils’ time learning.  

Think about what you can do as a headteacher to make this easier for your staff in the future. 

  • For example:
    • Time Management Training/Classes 
    • Offer Resources 
    • TALK – offer offloading time to talk to staff 
    • Uncover the source of the problem and try to minimize it 
    • Teach new techniques 
    • Recognise improvements 

Struggles of the 2m Rule

The instinct for a teacher to walk around a classroom to check on pupils’ progress and assist with problems has been taken away due to the 2-meter rule, is this making teaching classrooms smaller as it becomes harder to maintain the rule? 

Even break/playground time can cause this issue by ensuring that all pupils are adhering to the rules and keeping safe. Depleting interaction between staff can make them feel isolated as we are social creatures, we thrive on interaction with others and limiting this could affect your staff’s mental health. 

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Remote Work Set Before Lesson?

Uploading work for remote learning is best done at the end of the day because one never knows how much you will get through in the lesson. It can differ from a teachers’ lesson plan with discussions and unforeseen circumstances. Therefore, it is best at the end of the day to upload work for remote learning as it is less pressured- a view that can be pushed to set work from day two of absence for students self-isolating at home.  

  • This can be one of the workarounds that you as a headteacher can put in place with time management tactics that your school can strive towards. 

Hello, IT Problems!

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The IT glitch we all know far too well when the PC screen freezes, the video you found online won’t load and the lesson’s PowerPoint has deleted itself…it is all too damn annoying! 

It can affect teaching/learning time in the classroom along with meetings with staff members. Don’t get me wrong the internet and teaching via virtual classroom can have their benefits and advantages especially when we were all in lockdown. 

But even the most tech-savvy teacher can run into problems… 

Build a Tech Team 

  • Integrating technology can be very stressful for educators that are not familiar with it. Having a support team that is flexible and available to struggling teachers is crucial for any tech rollout.  

Scaffold Effective Professional Development 

  • One big mistake when introducing technology is either too much or too little professional development. Teachers that struggle with technology might feel overwhelmed if you introduce too much too soon. On the flip side, if you don’t provide enough professional development teachers may feel isolated.  
  • Professional Development also needs to be focused on being a value to teachers facing the hurdle of technology. How often do teachers say, “Why would I try this when I have been doing just fine without it all these years?” If you are planning professional development for the whole year, poll your teachers and ask what sort of tech-related areas they would like to focus on. Select only one or two of these areas and make a concentrated effort to help those teachers who are struggling.  

Make Time 

  • All educators know the time for professional development is sparse throughout the day. However, finding time to allow teachers to meet and collaborate is part of building a successful environment to support student learning, especially regarding the use of technology.  

Relevance 

  • Some teachers feel technology is being pushed on them, especially those who struggle with it. They might start using technology just for the sake of using it. This has shown to be an ineffective method for both tech-savvy and tech-challenged teachers.  
  • There is a big difference between using technology to teach and the successful integration of technology in lesson plans. This goes back to having a meaningful plan to incorporate technology into yearly professional development.  
  • Create a school-wide culture of tech integration and encourage openness to take risks. Some lessons will not go as planned, and that’s great! Reflect and learn from these challenges. Be willing to press on and continue to learn. After all, don’t we expect the same from pupils? 

Team Encouragement 

  • Even when the best professional development and resources are available- some teachers will struggle. Support them! Stop by every few days and discuss their tech ideas. Once they have mastered one area of tech, present them with another to consider. Encourage them and celebrate their willingness to try new things. Focus on learning (by teachers) and share their successes. 

 

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