It’s been an amazing week – impressive, awe-inspiring, heart-warming – watching as the teaching profession has risen to the challenge of keeping learning going during the shut-down. Incredibly it’s only Week 1. Already I can see that some re-grouping and stock-taking is needed if people are going to keep going. The @teachertapp data suggests that full-on timetabled lesson streaming is quite rare; most people are doing some blend of guidance and task-setting via a website or portal with pointers to materials, including some screen-capture tutorials. That sounds pretty sensible.
My initial thoughts on this two weeks ago are here: Setting work for a long-haul shut-down. This has had 25K views – so was hopefully useful. Most of it still applies but it might be worth reviewing how things have gone so far because there’s plenty of time to re-set things if needed.
Based on what I’ve seen people doing, here are some additional thoughts:
Check in with every student:
From past experience of closures, there will be students experiencing the full range from those enjoying daily, hourly engagement with the full set of school output, doing exactly what the teachers have planned … to students who are all at sea, lost in a fog of instructions, folders and more or less opting out, even if they can get online to see what’s going on in the first place.
I’ve seen some schools doing some superb work giving priority to the checking-in process – either form tutors or year leaders or designated staff. Imagine how great it would be to get that call. Is everything ok? Are you well? Coping? Can you access the work? Have you got a routine? Even a week in, for sure not every child is yet to be fully onboard with the programme and some will have flagged already.
Manage Staff Workload:
I must admit, perhaps naively, out of touch, I’m pretty shocked to hear of teachers working even longer hours during the shut-down than normal, and this is often when they have kids at home as well as lessons to deliver online. That can’t be sustainable surely. Unless your timetabled output is already working nicely, it strikes me that it would be perfectly workable for all concerned if things are planned on a weekly update basis. I’ve seen a primary teacher collecting work in daily to give feedback the next day… I don’t know the context but that just feels like that’s asking too much of everyone under these conditions. I certainly would not expect or even welcome that as a parent. Keep expectations of giving feedback to a minimum. If schools are locked down until June -which is entirely probable – then sustainable workload must be a factor.
Set Longer-Term Learning and Task Goals:
In general, but especially for exam classes, I think it would be a good idea to set out some longer-term goals, beyond the week to week stuff. For example, let’s look at where Year 10 are and what they might reasonably achieve between now and the end of May:
What topic areas should they have covered? Revision topics and any new material. I think it’s really helpful to be explicit about where learning is heading: It could be as simple as some chapter references, some pages from a CGP guide or a set of knowledge organisers, giving students a sense of the big picture of what they’re trying to learn during the shut-down period. You might also give students a sense of a form of assessment they will be taking on the material – which gives them a sense of direction: You need to be able to answer questions like this…. This overview will help make sense of the task they’re set – it’s more than just stuff to keep them occupied in the shut-down; it’s going somewhere.
Which key tasks should be completed: ? It’s going to be quite confusing to keep track of all the bits of pieces of work and instructions so I think it would help students to have a simple list of things they might have done by a certain time. That gives them a focus, an incremental sense of achievement, and importantly some ownership and flexibility to do the tasks as and when they can manage. Don’t include everything; include the main things. Notes on Chapters 3 and 4 ; read X, Y and Z and questions on pages 25——-45; watch and answer questions on Video resource 1,2,3 plus your Personal Project on ABC. These are things you can then run through once it’s all over. You could update the list of ‘things you should have done by now’ every couple of weeks.
2 Ideas for Projects
Here is my offering: Universal Project Guide. Feel free to download, copy and edit.
And I love this idea that Naureen Khalid shared on twitter:
Keep going people… you’re doing an incredible job.