What it’s REALLY like to teach from home | First thoughts

Teaching from home is weird. That’s my too-long-didn’t-read summary. There’s a lot to take in, a lot to digest, and a lot to adapt to. It feels as if there’s always something that needs doing but, really, that’s teaching, isn’t it? It’s a career more than it is a job; a way of living that you either have to give your all or none at all.

Sink or swim.

There have been lots of challenges to wrap my head around and overcome – especially as a newly qualified teacher. I’ve been teaching from home for a few weeks now, and these are my first thoughts.

Out with the old

There’s a lot that I suddenly don’t have to do. Behaviour management is a thing of the past. If a child is misbehaving, they’ll be taken off the Google Meet call. We’ve set our expectations extremely high, and they know it. If a student misuses the chat box, you can simply turn it off or – perhaps the more human method – call them out. Say their name, and ask them to use the chat responsibly. Every one of my students have responded positively so far.

I also no longer run around all day. Previously, due to the pandemic, every teacher in our school had been asked to teach in multiple different rooms each day. As an NQT, this wasn’t what I was expecting, but you certainly get used to finishing class, packing up and dashing to the next room across the other side of the school. It did wonders for my step count.

Now, if I don’t go out of my way to exercise, I’m lucky if I break 1,000 steps-per-day. As a remote teacher, I’m tethered to my desk, setting work, answering queries and adapting my lesson plans so that they’re suitable for remote learning.

My school also made the decision for us to teach live lessons to Years 7 and 11, and then it’s up to us if we feel able to teach over Google Meet to other school years. I spent the first week assessing my workload and then expanded to one live lesson a week to each of my year 10 classes.

In with the new (way of teaching)

Teaching live is weird. It’s a lot of teacher talk and a lot of hoping that students respond. Some are chattier than others; even if I cold call my year 11s, they’re not always as eager as my year 7s – but that’s to be expected. It’s a reflection of how that age tends to act in real life.

Teaching live lessons means having a stable working-from-home setup and, for the most part, mine hasn’t let me down. I’m currently relying on a laptop, connected to a TV, for a dual-screen system, accompanied by an iPad, provided by the school. Generally, it’s been a reliable way to work.

‘Generally’ being the key word.

I taught one lesson the other day where my connection lapsed three times, and it was beyond frustrating. Whether it was due to the busyness of Google Meet, the demands of working-from-home on the WiFi, or because of the fact that my laptop is five years old, I’m not sure.

I think we all expected that it wouldn’t be 100% clear sailing.

Finding the right balance

Lots of us feared that the work-life balance would evaporate, but I’ve actually been pleasantly surprised with the outcome so far. Yes, I am often working long days, but I’ve so far managed to clock off by 5 every day bar one, after sitting down to work at half 7 in the morning. There’s no commute so, when I’m done, I’m done.

It is a very different kind of work, though. It’s a different kind of tired. Usually I’m knackered from giving it my all in the classroom – we don’t get that much screen time when in school. Now, though, my entire workday is spent behind a screen. Instead of being physically tired, I’m a lot more mentally drained. Going out for my daily walk, or doing a Joe Wicks workout, is always needed to get the blood flowing.

I’m sure that my experience hasn’t been true for all of us. I’ve seen other teachers using Twitter a lot more to teach remotely, but what’s your experience been? I’d love to chat in the comments below.

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