Guest reviewer Rachael Paget’s top picks of the education topics include lockdown, online teaching, remote learning, Year 11 and why worry is unhelpful
We are currently in an unprecedented situation; more students than ever are having to access learning remotely and as educators we want to ensure that we provide them with the best resources we can. Yet many of us are lacking in confidence when it comes to technology and are flying blindly into a world of Google Classroom, Padlet, Screencast etc. Freya Odell provides an insight into her routine and successes during lockdown in Rome. She breaks down each program she uses explaining how she uses it and what for, offering useful tips along the way that she has learned the hard way, so you don’t have to! It’s honest and a really useful starting point for anyone feeling worried about how best to tackle the new technologies suddenly needed for teaching.
Before you start? If only we had the luxury! Despite the somewhat unfortunate title given current circumstances, Steve Farndon really gets to the heart of plenty of the issues and concerns felt by many teachers. He acknowledges the valid concern many of us have that this move to remote, distance and online learning will serve to widen the disadvantage gap for our pupils. His five questions allow teachers to engage with what the best strategies and solutions will be for their students. He ends his piece with a combination of a rallying cry and reassurance that “you’re doing a fantastic job!”. Something we all need to hear at this moment in time.
Teachers Vs Tech author Christodoulou provides a nuanced and interesting analysis of the problems previously faced by remote learning in terms of the assumptions and mistakes made by those designing the platforms and ongoing issues with uptake. Most useful of all in our current climate of school closures, she provides a list of valuable links to what she considers to be the best online learning resources out there.
Katie Ridgway’s blog for #WomenEd is a reassuring insight into the fact that I am not the only educator filled with apprehension and anxiety right now. Don’t get me wrong, this is not schadenfreude, this is comforting solidarity. It’s good to know that you’re not alone! And with her references to anxiety, breathing strategies learned during cognitive behavioural therapy, and worries about asthma, she could well be me! Her blog highlights the importance of challenging negative thoughts, a useful strategy at all times but especially in our current climate. It also reminds us that maybe sometimes the news is something to which we should limit our exposure.
This week our Y11 and Y13 students, who have been gearing up to sit exams that mark the threshold to their future, discovered that this wasn’t going to happen. We were all shocked. Then we began to mourn. To mourn the lost opportunities to “prove” themselves. To mourn the lost rites of passage that come with leaving school or college. Ben Newmark provided a voice of sound reason and compassion in the chaos with this blog entry and summed up what many of us wanted to tell our exam classes…it’s “see you later. Not goodbye.”
Amid the social distancing and panic buying, Kat Howard reminds us of the futility of worry. Posted on March 15 it feels strangely prescient, given the week we have just had; but it definitely helps as a reminder that worry is not a helpful emotion and can be dismissed in favour of more productive sentiments. Something to bookmark and read at regular intervals over the next 12 weeks!