The reality of lockdown as a teacher this week

It's been a rocky start to 2021, and Kirsty Walker is feeling as though it's Groundhog Day already
10th January 2021, 9:00am
Kirsty Walker

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The reality of lockdown as a teacher this week

https://www.tes.com/magazine/teaching-learning/general/reality-lockdown-teacher-week
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Are we on lockdown two or three? I say two because the second lockdown did not involve me wearing pyjamas every day for a month or having to keep my curtains permanently closed to deter relatives from "popping by" while I was trying to support 125 students and remain sane.

I somehow knew we wouldn't be back on 4 January. It had already been planned that the students would not return on that day and I had a sneaking suspicion that Boris would put a stop to the whole thing at the eleventh hour. Funny how you can start to recognise patterns even in these "uncertain times".

The college was gearing up to open as a testing centre, which we will have at two of our five centres. We will be giving lateral flow tests, and if they are positive the individual will be sent home with the PCR test. I mean, that's the plan when we have students. It's just a skeleton staff in the meantime, as we launch into teaching online for however long is necessary.


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Our students are currently having live online lessons for the most part. As my lessons are short and snappy 45-minute jobs, I have elected not to drag them to a laptop for the time being but instead have set tasks for them to do independently to earn a "present" mark.

As a pastoral teacher, I have, of course, been given a new set of priorities: make sure they're OK, get them online, get them a laptop, get them a dongle, check they're still OK, fill in several spreadsheets stating they are OK for several layers of management.

Coronavirus and colleges: Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day is next month and it certainly feels like it. My "office" - AKA the dining room - has been resurrected. It currently has a Christmas tree still in it. Taking down decorations as well as resigning myself to more time away from the students was just too much. 

Monday night was fun, wasn't it? I had a minor breakdown at 8.05pm when I realised that I had no idea what was going on, whether the controlled assessments and exams would go ahead, or whether I would be working from home or in college.

I was told to go in on Tuesday to collect any necessary equipment. I thought there probably wasn't anything I needed in order to get through the next six weeks, the whole of my teaching resources being terrifyingly held in the cloud, but I went in anyway, just in case the key to my entire teaching and learning strategy was somehow in the top draw of my desk. It wasn't.

I retrieved my paper diary and my teabags and came back after 10 minutes with a one hour commute, which also featured a bonus hour of sitting in freezing railway stations. Then I was told I'd be in one day a week for the foreseeable future so the whole endeavour was pointless.

I will be going into the office to support with vulnerable students, which is very different from last lockdown when I was only allowed in once between March and August. That makes me feel a bit better, though the initial six weeks we were told about now seems to be stretching to the end of March.

Will we reach the anniversary of being unceremoniously turfed out of our classrooms and told to change our entire method of teaching? That's one I won't be celebrating.

Kirsty Walker teaches at a college in the North West of England

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