Back to Face-to-Face Teaching
It's been a long time in coming, but I have been so excited to go back to face-to-face teaching this week. Sure, there have been a lot of challenges, but it has been fun as well. My students are so happy to see each other in person (rather than on Zoom) and know that we are taking every precaution for their health and safety.
So what's changed?
Firstly, we have very strict rules for wearing face coverings, hand sanitizing and keeping a 1 meter difference at all times. Everyone is temperature checked when they arrive (if they are above 37.5 we will send them home) and asked if they have any Covid-19 symptoms (a new continuous cough, high temperature and loss of taste or smell). We must cover our faces when in communal areas such as the hall and toilets, but we are allowed to uncover our faces when sat in the classroom (as all the chairs are 1 meter apart). I have been provided with a face shield, which I wear in the classroom when I am near students. I have used this a lot when handing out paper, monitoring learners and giving one-to-one support.
Secondly, our class times have changed, with a quick turn over between classes and no break or café. Everyone is encouraged to bring their own tea/ coffee in flasks and water to drink. A few of my students were quite disappointed to discover there was no time or place for them to smoke! Our classes are now 2 hours instead of 3 (on 2 days), which means we have a lot to teach in a short amount of time and makes it so important for students to be on time!
Thirdly, our paperwork has gone digital. This is really useful, particularly if we have a second lockdown or need to switch to online teaching suddenly. (It also means I will hopefully save a fortune on ink cartridges this year!). Ironically, the building I currently teach in has no wifi, but hopefully this will be fixed soon! This has meant we have been given a lot of staff training on how to use programmes such as Microsoft Teams and SharePoint.
Fourthly, we are unable to do a lot of interactive activities with our students, as we are extremely careful about what people touch and making sure they are always 1 meter apart. This has meant adapting our usual 'get to know you' activities such as a "find me someone" mingle or 'introduce yourself' speed dating, so that students can do these activities whilst remaining at their desks, but still have the chance to talk to as many people as possible. The real challenge for me, however, is not being able to do matching or tactile activities with low level/ zero literacy learners. I have so many cut up alphabet, phonics and vocabulary flash cards, which I use a lot with learners and will have to save them for future (post Covid-19) use! If you have any alternative ideas for this, please let me know in the comments section below!
Finally, despite all the challenges of returning, it has been really worth it, particularly to see my students being so positive and eager to learn! None of us know what the Covid-19 rules will be from day to the next, but hopefully by keeping each other as safe as possible, we can have a really exciting year ahead.
Has your school gone back to face-to-face teaching? How have you found it? Let me know in the comments box below 😀