I hate remote learning.
There, I said it. And I am not ashamed to either.
What is there to like about teaching without any children present? Like most teachers, I thrive off children’s energy and natural curiosity for learning. Muted microphones and blank webcams just don’t give me the same level of fulfilment as teaching high-energy lessons with a classroom full of children.
Hate it or not though, remote learning has the potential benefit of cutting down some of the out-of-hours work that many teachers obligingly do as part of their jobs.
Over the course of the academic year, many teachers clock up a high number of unpaid hours, whether it’s after-school intervention sessions, Saturday school or half-term revision sessions before mock exams or the real deal.
The level of commitment of some of these teachers should be applauded, but in the long run it is unsustainable.
With teachers becoming increasingly familiar with the marvels of many online learning platforms, however, there is now the opportunity to use this technology to reduce teachers’ workload and still provide the same level of support for students outside of working hours.
GCSEs 2021: No more out-of-hours revision sessions
Out-of-hours intervention sessions could either be pre-recorded by staff and posted on these online learning platforms or carried out as live events. No longer would teachers be restricted by the limits of a classroom that only seats 30 students; the whole year group could access these from home, meaning that only one member of staff would be required where previously it could have been several.
- 2 quick tips to help self-isolating students catch up
- GCSEs 2021: A guide to adapting your planning
- Coronavirus and exams: A guide to the rules for absence
This means that departments could work together to share the burden of recording video tutorials and thereby reduce their hours from an extra hour after school each week to one in a half-term (or term, depending on the size of your department).
Although I personally believe Saturdays and the holidays are time for recuperating and enjoying time with family and friends, if Saturday school or holiday revision sessions are on the agenda, then they could be pre-recorded, or even carried out remotely from home. This would give teachers greater flexibility during these times and lessen the impact on their wellbeing of working these demanding hours.
Moreover, a further benefit of remote learning for these out-of-hours interventions is the ability to download a copy of the recording of any live events.
Students who participate in team sports or enjoy extracurricular clubs would no longer have to make the difficult decision of which to attend. By accessing recordings later in the evening, or catching up at weekends, they can still enjoy the physical and mental health benefits of their hobbies, whilst getting the same level of support as their peers.
Whilst not all the changes to our ways of working during this pandemic have been easy to deal with, as a workforce we have adapted quickly and shown that we are able to embrace these new and sometimes rather complex technologies.
I just hope that when things do eventually go back to normal – whatever that is – we can continue to use technology as a way to support our students, but also to give us back our most precious resource as teachers: time.
Laura Tsabet is director of CPD and ITT at a school in Bournemouth