Mary-Jo Hill

19 Jan 2021
Remote learning and teaching are beyond difficult. Teacher, mother, cook, cleaner, IT technician, personal assistant, therapist, coach and motivational speaker. How many roles can we juggle?

The challenges of remote learning and teaching continues for headteachers, teachers, all edu staff and parents. The roles being adopted by headteachers and all staff are vast and wide. And that is before thinking about the students and children themselves. Caught in a web of roles. The spider is clearly out of sight.

remote learning teaching

Remote learning and teaching are beyond difficult. Teacher, mother, cook, cleaner, IT technician, personal assistant, therapist, coach and motivational speaker. How many roles can we juggle? The challenges of January abound. Headteachers are now SENDCos, business managers, HR managers, midday supervisors and cleaners. Gate duty is a small joy of actual conversations. Melt downs of week one have entered a new routine as we enter week three of a very long term. Managing three boys on three different timetables has its own challenges but we all know close friends and colleagues managing greater and similar social and emotional challenges for the family unit. What does it bring us?

However do you want me

A conversation with Lucy Marks from Norfolk Network realised that one of my greatest gifts from 2020 was a lowering of expectation. A good thing perhaps. Or maybe not.

I owe it to Sarah Shrirras, headteacher of St William School, Norfolk, and also my current lecturers at the Norwich Business School to remind me that this is what it is and we have the agency to remember that we are in control of these new expectations- not necessarily lowered but definitely different. Teachers are carrying a load of extra weight right now.

Mainly because they are having to use their craft in a remote fashion. It is hard. Harder. It means a new set of boundaries and expectations and they take time to imbed. And a lot of energy. Personal and professional networks are heavily drawn upon. The value of music is powerful. And the beauty of Whats App and Instagram platforms is that with my firmest and formative friends I am often taken back to the 90s. So here it is, a throwback song to keep us going just before the next demand… The next iteration.

And the three takeaways are:

1. Reduction

I know this is partly to do with the endless fixation on cookery programmes on the terrestrial TV but also a reminder from two amazing chefs that I know that it is all about reduction. Let’s get back to the core flavour, the real heart of the dish which is three simple ingredients. Maths, English and Social and Emotional Learning. I know that this is not going to be popular but when we are relying on online learning, the need to pare back is more important than ever. Concentration on-line, with minimal interaction, is what the core subjects might just about be able to manage.

2. Expansion

We have to expand our understanding of everyone’s situation being unique. Rationality of decisions being made by those in positions of responsibilty is not always understood by others. This is frustrating but a fact that without ‘school for everyone’, there is no level playing field right now.

4. Communication

Yes, I know this one is always on the list. Which members of staff found it more difficult last time round? Which members of your staff are feeling connected enough? How connected are the students? What do they really need to hear or see or observe from their teachers and headteacher right now? How can you make Teams or Zoom work better for you all?

Heavy rain is forecast for the rest of the week. This one may well feel very long.