I haven't done this much planning since I was an NQT

Teaching online requires a huge amount of planning, recording, uploading – we all need a break, says Louise Lewis
26th January 2021, 12:12pm
Louise Lewis

Share

I haven't done this much planning since I was an NQT

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/i-havent-done-much-planning-i-was-nqt
Online Learning: I Haven't Done This Much Lesson Planning Since I Was An Nqt, Says This Teacher

Let us take a little walk down Memory Lane, back to the days of initial teacher training and NQT.

Back then, every single lesson took forever to plan and resource. And your time was consumed by the minutiae of pedagogy, not to mention subject knowledge and how on Earth you were going to convey these concepts to a class full of students.

But, after a few years, you had taught most of your curriculum and you knew where the misconceptions were likely to be. You knew where some classes were going to need more scaffolding and modelling, where to add in hinterland to support learning acquisition rather than hinder it, and how to make the whole circus work. You were the ringmaster or ringmistress, and things, on a good day, were performing to your tune. 

Tweaks replaced planning full lessons. Off-the-cuff thinking was no longer sloppy or lazy, but a useful responsive tool. And there was actually time to do other things.

Online learning: The return of the days of endless planning 

Now, however, many of us are finding that those long-gone days of endless planning are back again. Once more, we're working long into the evening, over weekends, and way past our 1,265 hours

This is not because we have a set of mocks to mark this week (although some do), or anything else that is unexpected or a change from the norm. Aside, obviously, from the very large and unexpected change from the norm: remote teaching.

This is just the way it is now. It feels hugely reminiscent of my NQT days. Everything is taking longer. Lessons once again need to be planned to the nth degree, to allow for perfectly explicit explanations. Resources are being made from scratch to fit the online world. And don't get me started on the wi-fi.

Then there is the learning. Everyone in this situation is undergoing a huge learning curve: us, our students, the parents and school leaders. None of us is an expert in this new style of learning - we are all unsure, and we are all finding our way. 

Coronavirus: Uncertainty, leading to anxiety

And this uncertainty inevitably leads to anxiety. Whether it is worry about using the technology correctly, hitting the right button, pressing "send" at the appropriate point, uploading an un-editable document or just remembering your timetable, they all add up, weighing heavily on many people.

After three full weeks of remote teaching and learning, it is evident that people are burning out. Teachers are questioning whether they can keep up the pace of planning, uploading, live teaching, answering emails and feeding back. Students are experiencing screen fatigue, and parents are living on the edge of their patience. Yet we accept that this is necessary, and plough on regardless.  

I do have to question how sustainable it is, from a teacher's point of view. Can we really withstand working like this for the next three weeks - and possibly more - without a day's break

Despite many people's best efforts, the to-do list is not shrinking, the lessons still need planning, recording, uploading, and the list goes on. 

If we saw an early-career colleague doing this, what would we say? We would tell them to have a break. 

So, that brings me full circle, back to my ITT year, when my mentor wisely told me, "You are your own biggest resource. Look after that resource wisely." 

I implore everyone to take my mentor's advice. Look after yourselves. It's fine to add something else to the to-do list, just as long as that thing is self-care, a walk, a screen break, a day of indulgent reading.

Whatever it is, create a pause point for yourself. Get off the hamster wheel. Then the circus will soon be back under your masterful control. 

Louise Lewis is a research lead and deputy head of science in a Yorkshire secondary school. She tweets @MissLLewis 

You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Register for free to read more

You can read two more articles on Tes for free this month if you register using the button below.

Alternatively, you can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters

Already registered? Log in

You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Subscribe to read more

You can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters