Final thoughts | Teaching from Home

Lockdown is over!

…At least, that’s how it feels for teachers, students, and many other people in education. In reality, however, Boris Johnson’s stay at home order remains in place for the vast majority of England. For us, though, we returned on Monday of this week, and have spent the last five days settling in and getting back into the swing of things.

It’s been weird being back, but at the same time, really quite nice. That’s not to say that I didn’t like teaching from home – quite the contrary. It feels like an unpopular opinion to say that I did enjoy myself for the 8 weeks of remote learning that we delivered. There were upsides and downsides, sure, but it would be disingenuous to say that I hated it, just to follow the crowd.

Over the third lockdown, I’ve written once already about my first thoughts on remote teaching, and on delivering parent’s evening from home, but I’d like to bring it full circle.

These are my final thoughts on what it was like to teach from home.

Untold extra time

One thing that I liked about teaching from home? The extra time. I’ve had more time in bed each day, averaging 8 hours most nights, and much less time in the car. By working from home, I’ve reduced my commuting time by 40 minutes a day, or 3 hours, 20 minutes, every week.

That spare time has been put towards looking after my physical health. Since the gyms were closed, I’ve managed to fit in 3-4 workouts every week, plus a daily 20-40 minute walk at the end of my working day. I’ve listened to a lot of books and podcasts during this time spent exercising (on 2.5x normal playback speed, of course), so I’ve kept my brain busy too. Despite all this, I’ve still been working my normal working hours, from between 7:30 and 8am till 5pm, only resorting to working unsocial hours a few nights in the past couple of months.

Part of that extra time has come from not waiting around for my resources to print, cutting them up and filing them for use later in the week each night. Moving forward, I’m hoping to get that all sorted the morning of each school day or – ideally – all on the Monday of the week ahead. Since I built a new PC over Lockdown, improving on my old desk setup, I feel quite comfortable now getting away earlier each afternoon to continue working from home. No longer needing to wait 15 minutes for my laptop to fire up whenever I wish to use it is a huge help in increasing the amount I’m able to get done.

I’ve also had extra time during every lesson that I’ve taught, as behaviour management was thrown out the window. The most that I ever had to do was ask some students to not use the chat box without having been asked. It’s meant more time to focus on the content of the lesson and to check their learning.

Not all sunshine

However, despite all of the supposed extra time in lessons, a lot of the time was spent making sure that every student was on-task and learning, scrolling through their Google Docs as they worked. Sometimes students might have just not been doing the work, and there is very little that you can do to change that remotely. It’s definitely unsustainable, though I’m so grateful for the fantastic support system that my school put in place during this period. I felt quite confident, returning to school, that we were in a strong place to support our students in helping where any misconceptions may lie.

It also wasn’t very nice not getting to see the kids that I was teaching. I’d missed them while teaching from home, since I was the only one required to keep my camera on during live lessons. It’s been superb getting to see all of them this week, asking what they’ve been up to, and commenting on all of our hairstyles that are in need of much-needed cuts.

Speaking of long hair, it’s starting to dangle into my eyes when I’ve been exercising in my bedroom. Though I’ve done well to stick with workouts by Joe Wicks or Mad Fit on Youtube, it has been difficult, at times, motivating myself to get my 4,000-5,000 steps in every day. I’ve spoken at length about how I’ve managed to work around lacking motivation, and how aiming to be 1% better every day is a great way to get closer to meeting your goals, but that doesn’t make it any less tough to stick to my habits! Being in school usually means a guaranteed 3,000 steps every single day as I dashed around, from room to room, to teach different groups all over the school. I’ve already racked up my step count since being back, but I’m very happy that I kept up the exercise over Lockdown, or else my poor legs would have given way after Day One.

The Verdict

I coped pretty well with Lockdown Three. Having a reliable desk setup, with a comfortable chair and super fast computer, meant that working was a breeze. I had a lot of extra time and felt very well rested, but nothing will ever replace teaching children face-to-face. As long as it remains safe to be in a classroom, I’m happy to be back.

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