What I Have Learned During My First Week of Distance Teaching – Confessions from a primary teacher

What I Have Learned During My First Week of Distance Teaching. Confessions from a primary teacher

What I have learned after my first week of distance teaching:

1. There is a saying: Those who can’t do, teach.

Well, I think that all the memes, jokes, and real-life frustrations from parents homeschooling their kids right now have taught us one thing. The saying should be: Those who can’t teach, do. We see the most intelligent of people, top of the field in their respective jobs, breaking down when they have to teach their 6-year-old addition. Guess we won’t be getting so many snarky comments from parents when school starts again!

2. Real teaching is really EXHAUSTING!

Even though we are actually working more hours a day at the moment (in front of a laptop, which is NOT what I signed up for when I decided to be a teacher) getting everything in place for distance learning, I have so much more energy than when I’m in school on a daily basis. They say teachers make more minute by minute decisions than brain surgeons. And I can well believe this. Decision making is tiring. Repeating yourself 5 times in 5 minutes is tiring. Being enthusiastic in front of your class ALL THE TIME is tiring. Repeating yourself 5 times in 5 minutes is tiring. Trying to make learning about commas the most exciting thing your class has ever come across is tiring! Repeating yourself 5 times in 5 minutes is tiring. Not to mention all our daily tasks and activities aside from being in the classroom that contribute towards the energy drain. Break duty. Lesson planning. Creating worksheets. Catching up with students who were absent in your free periods. Marking. Feedback. Repeating yourself 5 times in 5 minutes. Sending messages to parents. Filling in weekly overviews. Posting materials online for your classes. Mark analysis. Meetings. PDs. Repeating yourself 5 times in 5 minutes… I have now found that, for the first time in my career as a teacher, I am actually waking up BEFORE my alarm goes off! Who am I even?

3. Teachers really do love their students, and love interacting with them.

Teaching is a very social occupation. Even when we are not in the classroom interacting with our 30 little humans, we are in staff rooms, meetings, planning periods, all with other people! Teachers are not ok during this isolation period! We miss our kiddos. We miss our fellow teachers. I even found myself stalking my class on MS Teams the other day. As soon as I saw them come online, I tagged them and sent them a message!! Teachers want to know that their students are doing ok, both academically and emotionally. We worry about them, constantly (and this applies to both distance teaching and classroom life).

4. Detailed written feedback IS NOT THAT IMPORTANT!

There, I’ve said it. Yes, on certain assignments, like essays it is. But seriously, a child does not need a ‘What Went Well’ and an ‘Even Better If’ on EVERY PIECE OF WORK THEY SUBMIT! Seriously, they seem to be coping just fine without it. Verbal feedback, while they are working, is what is important!

5. Online learning will NEVER be able to replace being in a classroom.

Yes sure, there are those who can manage learning by themselves. The very few, who can grasp and understand concepts easily. But they still miss the social aspect of school. Then you get the average student, who sometimes understands, and sometimes doesn’t. And the below-average kids, who struggle with learning. Nothing will ever be able to replace having a teacher by their side. Someone who knows and understands their difficulties. Who is creative enough, patient enough, and caring enough to find ways to teach them. To help them learn. To help them understand. To help them grow into the well-rounded, self-sufficient, well mannered, caring, and compassionate humans we know they can be.

6. People often moan that teachers ‘have it easy’.

Apparently, we ‘finish work at 3:30’ (hahaha what a joke). We have ‘paid holidays’ (hahaha what a joke). All we do is ‘stand in front of a class and talk’ (tell me another one!). I beg to differ. Teachers are superheroes. We care for your kids just as much as you do. We care for the improvement of our communities that we are so much a part of. And we are always willing to go the extra mile, even if it only makes a difference in one students’ life. Because, as a teacher, that is what makes the exhaustion, the worrying, the planning, the detailed reports, mark analysis, overly complicated written feedback, late nights marking, the PDs, the meetings, break duties, parent communication, repeating yourself 5 times in 5 minutes, and everything else that comes with being a teacher, worth it! And that is why we will spend our days, nights, and weekends trying to make this distance learning as successful as we possibly can!

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Primary Teacher from South Africa teaching in the UAE. Love running. Love exploring. Love my kiddos (no, none of my own, my 30 at school!) Love a glass of wine.

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