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Teachers speak about challenges of online lessons in Stratford

TEACHERS have embraced remote learning over the past ten months as the pandemic forced schools to shift lessons online. With no date set for pupils to return to the classroom, video lessons could be here for some time. But what do teachers think about this major change to their working lives – and how are children coping? The Herald spoke to two teachers from Stratford.

Classroom (44292744)
Classroom (44292744)

Kevin Lister, senior assistant head at Stratford School:

"It is like teaching with one hand behind your back. It’s nothing any of us had trained for before this, and having to teach remotely takes away a lot of the tools you have as a teacher.

"In the classroom you can pick up on facial expressions, you can tell if a student doesn’t quite understand something – it’s the little things and it has an effect on the relationship between students and teachers.

"You’ve got to think harder about how you do lessons too. Some things that would work in the classroom don’t necessarily work over video, and you’ve got to keep track of different windows and tasks on a computer screen. It’s an added stress for teachers.

"If this time last year you had told me we would be teaching the whole school remotely, I would have laughed.

"In the classroom,a teacher may talk for 15 to 20 minutes before setting students off to work independently and this is how it works with remote lessons, which also naturally provides screen breaks.

"It’s not a case of students staring into a screen for an hour, which perhaps some parents were expecting. On the plus side, some students who might get distracted in the classroom are finding it much easier to concentrate at home and in the long term this will really help us support absent students.

"If a student breaks their leg, we know we can use all these tools to make sure they can work from home and they don’t fall behind.

"There’s been one or two funny moments working like this – of course, you get usual comments when people forget they’ve got their microphones on.

"We’re making the best out of this situation and I’m so pleased with how students have engaged with the remote learning. We need it to be safe but our teachers can’t wait to get back to the classroom."

Jo Herrero, headteacher at Holy Trinity Primary School:

"We were doing remote learning during the first lockdown so when this one came along it’s been quite seamless really. We always ask that a parent is present when the lessons are taking place – it gives children that extra support.

"None of our teachers have said it is more stressful teaching by Zoom and our parents are really happy with how it is working. We expect to see all of our children every day and they all wear their uniforms. We don’t have the children there in their pyjamas: it has to be treated professionally, like a normal school day.

"A Zoom lesson isn’t a teacher speaking for an hour. There is lesson input and then children will do work independently. A lot of our teachers stay on the video call the whole time to help or answer questions.

"Teaching remotely does enable us to do some things we wouldn’t try otherwise and, for instance, we have a higher attendance at our parents’ evenings over Zoom. We can speak to those that might have struggled to make it into school.

"At the start of the first lockdown we identified pupils who might have had access to the technology and we gave our all our school iPads. We’ve also received support from charities to provide laptops to those who need them."

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