Teachers just getting on with the (new) job

It is no exaggeration to say we have never seen anything impact our lives as much as the Covid-19 pandemic. As a teacher who has been in the game for nearly 40 years, it is also no exaggeration to say I have never witnessed such a profound impact on schools as has been the case over the last couple of months.  To be part of and observe the upheaval to the daily life of teaching and learning and the routines of a school day, has been profound. To see the commitment and passion of my colleagues in not just continuing on with school life, but making sure they do everything in their power to provide the best learning experiences for their students, is humbling and a privilege to be part of this profession.

It is therefore somewhat distressing to see the increasingly upsetting war of words between our State and Federal politicians as they debate when students should go back to school.  Teachers have little time for such nonsense.  All we care about are our students. When it was clear about the middle of Term 1, this corona virus thing was going to be a major event, we went to work. Without complaint, teachers started the process of preparing for school closure and teaching online from home. Professional Learning went into overdrive, courses were adjusted, assessments modified, resources organised and endless planning meetings, much of this happening outside of school hours and often at home late into the evenings.

Teachers, are a curious lot. When there is something that needs doing for the students, they just get on with it. No fuss, just a willingness to teach our students. I guess it comes with the territory and it is in our DNA. Our school started online teaching in the last weeks of first term. At the same time, we stayed open for families who were essential workers and while it is certainly challenging operating in this unique environment, and very tiring for students and staff sitting down to a computer monitor all day long, there has been unexpected joy and delight in what has taken place.

Kindness from teachers, students and parents is everywhere to see. There is a palpable feeling of community because everyone knows we are in this together. The teaching staff were initially concerned how our students would cope. We need not have worried. Our students have been remarkable. They have shown maturity, independence and a spirit of can do.

Our VCE students, who are understandably concerned about what the final stage their education will look like, have led the way by just putting their heads down and getting on with the job.  A colleague of mine told me today that his Year 12 class was ‘devouring’ whatever work he set them.  “It is like they are on a mission to prove the disbelievers wrong about learning online,” he remarked.  It is not just the senior students who are excelling.  All of the students right down to the little ones in our ELC are engaged in the online learning. Absence from class is virtually zero and no one is late to class. Every student in the School has moved up a gear determined to make the most of a difficult situation.

Yes, this teaching business from home is more than a little bit challenging.  In fact, it is downright hard work and all of us. Teachers and students, get to the end of a day pretty tired only to front up again the next day. We have staff juggling the demands of teaching and having their own children at home as well.  We have teachers who have elderly parents living with them at home. We have teachers grappling with the need to adjust their teaching methods to suit the online space and yet, they turn up to teach each and every lesson always giving their best to provide a quality education for those in our charge. In conversations with colleagues the story remains the same.  Teachers working exceptionally hard and students doing their best all with a sense of humour and belief we will get through this.

Whether we open up our School in a couple of weeks, at the end of term or sometime next term isn’t particularly important. I for one, am happy to abide by the judgement of Premier Andrews in making that call as to when that will be. In the meantime, all the teachers across the state will be getting on with it and supporting our wonderful students.

Mr Robert Marshall, Deputy Principal

Published in The Age 29 April

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