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Coronavirus shutdown: let’s celebrate the resilience of teachers

The last seven days have proven just how adaptable schools really are...

  • Coronavirus shutdown: let’s celebrate the resilience of teachers

One thing you learn very quickly about teaching (especially in primary) is that your lovely lesson plan almost never works out the way you hope it to.

You lose a TA to sickness. The tech dies. Another class needs to let you look after a third of them due to an issue in their classroom (missing hamster).

If there’s one skill you learn to refine in teaching, it’s adaptability.

This has never been more obvious than in the past week. We have gone from a status when we might be closing schools, to being both closed and open at the same time.

The past seven days have shown the high levels of resilience and adaptability that this profession normally hides under a bushel.

You could see it the the growth of teachers quickly porting learning to technology solutions, ahead of any official announcement. (I picture the back office staff at Google Classroom like the earthquake scientists at the start of a disaster movie, seeing an enormous spike in their data).

This actually started weeks before the announcement, with teachers looking at the news and learning form countries who were ahead of the coronavirus curve.

You could see it in the announcement that schools would close, except for some very specific pupils - a third option which had been considered by some, but which was announced to leaders as the same time as their parents.

Leaders had to quickly mobilise comment and a school line even before the end of a speech (while also cancelling every trip and residential in the near future).

It’s important to note here that no one was asked - we were told that this was what was happening.

While we might be outraged and upset that it was foisted upon us, in reality (and some reflection), it was a backhanded compliment. They gave it to us to organise, because they knew we could do it. No pressure.

You could see it in the long-awaited fabled list of key workers. By this point, sleep for school leaders was now a distant memory, and sure enough, at 00.11 on Friday the list appeared, with 96% of jobs seemingly being in the key worker bracket.

Again, leaders and teachers had already drawn up their lists, compiled their data, weeded out ‘suspect’ key workers, all while watching their workforce either disappear during the ‘pregnant teacher reveal party’, or through sensible self-isolation.

You could see it over the weekend, as heads created timetables and schedules (the DfE at this point releasing documentation as effective and helpful as a cheap TV instruction manual), then released and adjusted them due to illness, changing numbers and LA involvement.

We are nothing if not resilient. What this crisis has highlighted is that we are also phenomenally adaptable to change.

Plan A may look great, but it’s an outline drawn in the sand. Schools make that path exciting, accessible and adaptable.

Teacher and author Stephen Lockyer tweets at @mrlockyer.

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