Back to school - comments from staff in the first week of JuneDate: 22.06.2020
In our early June research we asked teachers how they had been feeling about work and being in lockdown during the past two weeks. These are just some of the comments made in response (50 of 2,500). Each is from a different respondent.
A mixture of apprehension and need to return to the routine of work. I recently taught in a rota day and came home feeling great and realised how much I missed being in the classroom. However, I am very concerned about how my school will manage what could be a sudden influx of Y10’s. Our classrooms are small and we have struggled to accommodate 10 desks at a meters distance, we are teaching three distinct lessons, I don’t think will engage pupils, and what will happen to pupils who turn up our of sync to be with their friends? Once we start to accommodate extra pupils we could be left with larger classrooms and more chance of the virus spreading. SLTs make the decisions but do not go in the classrooms. Getting keyworkers children to wash hands and keep distancing is hard enough and we only have 6-8 of those!
A mixture of emotions. Frustrated that perception (probably at first) was that academic staff had time to undertake additional CPD tasks and entertain Teacher Training Activities when in fact the workload had increased. Success in the 'zoom' classrooms has been mixed with only just over a half of FE students engaging to an acceptable level. I found this method of delivery required more out of work time individual support and couldn't (still can't) stop thinking about work. For my own lessons, I restructured and regenerated activities to provide a more 'staged and gradual' sequence of learning for my FE students in order to provide more support. This took all of my 'holiday' days over the Easter period. I don't think online learning is effective for all students (due to access and personal ways of learning) and giving all formative feedback electronically is time consuming without suitable equipment.
Although I am on a teaching/research contract (I am a professor in a major Russell Group university) the nature of my administrative and teaching duties is such that I have been working harder and longer than I ever have in decades. Most days I spend all day (12 hours) dealing with work over my personal laptop. It is hard to be cheerful in such circumstances. I am very concerned that the way the government is responding to HE in this pandemic will radically reshape British universities for the worse - both for academics and the nation as a whole. It beggars belief that the government would allow something as important as universities in the modern world to be so crippled. When I contact colleagues in other universities what they have to say about their institutions is grim.
Being in an area that is still in phase 1, i feel like every day is 16 hours long because I forget to stop working. So, the days drag on but the weeks go by fast. I feel like it isn't June 5th, I feel like it is March 75th (borrowed from a news person on NPR). I feel lonely for friends, I long to hug someone, I wish I had a dog or something to distract me. Now with the police brutality coming into the forefront, I feel overwhelmed , sad, disappointed in the system. I didn't vote for our country's leader and the lack of leadership during the pandemic and now this has me embarrassed to be an American, pulling out of WHO is a disgrace, it is a mess and I am trying not to think of it. I work primarily with international students... the fears of these students and their parents make me worry they will never come back.
Classes are done for my school, so I haven't had as much to do. I feel a little guilty for not working on recommendation letters or online lessons for next year since I have the time, but it is not enough to make me do them right now. I am glad to see this year end because the kids were very apathetic in the last part of the semester, with some cheating while not leaving quite enough evidence for us to do anything about it. However, some kids did rise to the occasion and do the work with fidelity, even asking questions when they didn't understand and setting up tutoring times. Overall, I am feeling bored without work but not motivated enough to get any school work that is not immediately necessary done.
Disconnected. Although I don't miss the daily commute, I miss the school buzz. I want to talk to my colleagues, I want to have those everyday conversations. I miss seeing the kids. Teaching live remote lessons I can't even hear them most of the time; they're not as responsive, and some are making excuses, such as 'the system won't let me in'. Because I can't see their faces, I don't know how they are feeling. Instead of encouraging them as I would in school I feel frustrated and irritated because I have no idea if they are being truthful or not, and I can't help them much with technical issues. I spend a lot of time preparing lessons, which I like doing, but I left an office job to go into teaching because I hated looking at a screen all day. So
Even more anxious : my school failed to declare a COVID-19 positive test in the site manager and as a NEU rep, I've had to attend several extra virtual meetings with senior management and other union representatives to establish the measures that would be put in place to protect the whole school community. However, senior management continue to refuse to accept responsibility and as a staff, we cannot trust our leaders and I, in particular, am very anxious about returning into the new bubble system. All form tutors (regardless of when they'll be in school on new rotas) have been told they have to make wellbeing calls home to at least 10 pupils in their tutor groups every fortnight, which brings more staff into the school building and therefore increasing the risk of spreading and catching COVID-19.
Generally speaking, I've found that working away from my office on campus at Teesside has been tough. Though I've been ahead of the curve the majority of the time and had no complaints or issues raised about my work, I have had nowhere near the amount of chances to talk and work effectively with both students and colleagues to help set up and run our final year showcase ExpoTees. The support seems lacking, the amount of people who seem to change their minds constantly and only make their presence known once or twice a week in informal meetings is infuriating to say the least and I feel torn between two general feeling combinations: 1. Unchallenged, Unmotivated and Lacking in Direction 2. Annoyed, harassed and fighting off the feeling that people are trying to push me and my project around into what would work best for them, not the department and especially not the students.
Grateful not to be planning weekly lessons any more (my school has begun using the Oak National Academy lessons) - it was killing me trying to make lessons relevant to the WHOLE of Y9 (with differentiation, stretch & challenge, answer sheets for parents, scaffolding for longer answers, links to YouTube videos etc etc) while still looking after/home-schooling my own three kids (15 with special needs, 12 and just starting grumpy sneering adolescence, 7 and missing friends and school dreadfully). But finding it hard to settle to the new scheme of work I'm supposed to be writing for September (feel a bit burnt out after last half-term). Also, hard to do the subject-specific reading I need to do to write the scheme, as if I'm not typing madly on my laptop/in a Teams meeting, my family don't seem to think I'm working....
I am bored by the monotony of working in my office at home and doing Zoom meetings. Some of these have been pointless but in lockdown the only excuse for not attending is that you have another Zoom meeting that clashes with it. I work at home quite often normally but then I am in the house by myself - having my wife here (and my daughter for a while on furlough) it feels like I am on holiday, yet I know I have to work, so there is a psychological stress caused by this. The good thing is that I have been doing more physical exercise. I am disgusted by Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings - my general benevolent acceptance of government attempts to manage what is a difficult situation has more or less evaporated, largely because of Cummings. I am frustrated about the restrictions of public services during lockdown, although I appreciate their importance.
I am worried about a possible return to school. We admin have been included in all of the info and surveys regarding assessing whether we are able to return to work. The form asked if we were in any of the high risk categories, then asked yes or no are you able to return to work. A paper expertise with no consideration or space for how concerned you are about it, we are being informed and consulted about plans to open school for year 10s but we won’t have a date till next week and I still don’t know if I will be expected to go in or not. Bewildered, worried, glad I’m still at home. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia just before lockdown and stress makes this worse. I have found lockdown and the situation overwhelming to the point that I have been extremely fatigued sometimes for days.
I am worried because I am not very tech savvy and I struggle for example just with joining a teams meeting set up by someone else. the thought of doing a lot of my teaching this way fills me with dread. The online training courses don't seem to get through to me. I know I will have to go back into the office at some time to film some practical demos for students who won't be able to come to labs because we can't fit them all in and I am worried about that too, as I don't want to travel on buses and trains since I am a vulnerable individual because of my health. I'd like to be a hermit, and just stay in my home office with my family around, writing detailed lecture notes to put on line. I am also fed up with online marking which seems to take so much more time than hard copy marking. .
I feel depressed and I am afraid that this lockdown will be the end of my relationship. I have huge pressure from work because I work in an independent school and the parent and owners want their money’s worth. I feel frustrated that our senior leadership makes and changes rules (or applies them inconsistently) without consulting or considering the effect they might have in staff. I am frustrated and angry that I have just received a new contract in which the pandemic is blamed for a pay freeze while I have had to use my own supplies, electricity and equipment to deliver the quality of lessons expected. I want so much to deliver the best lessons possible to my pupils but I do not think it fair that I should pay for the equipment they require.
I feel horribly that commerce is being placed above human lives and that there is pressure to 'reopen' so that the stock market can rebound. I feel HORRIBLY for all of the people whose lives literally depend on their mayor & governor (and whether or not THEY believe the scientists). I feel horribly disheartened that the economy is pressuring schools to reopen because families need 'babysitters.' I would like to think that the job of an educator has more value than that. I feel demoralized that my profession is at the whim of school boards that have never valued the TEACHER. And, there is literally NO WAY to make school 'safe' to return to *without a vaccine* and YET, no one in leadership seems willing to take that stand. I am sick & tired (very very tired) of spineless people costing lives. These 'leaders' have the safety of working from home or staying in offices with limited visitation, but yet, there is an expectation that I should resume my own personal contact with 200 students/day + working in a building with hundreds of other students. I feel devalued and lost. Even now, our school district is going back on an agreement to give teacher raises and they are talking about MORE budget cuts over the next 5 years. So, yeah, it is getting increasingly hard to hold on to a love for a job that will never love you back.
I feel like I am being asked to do the impossible: deliver high quality music lessons to children in school when I am not allowed in their bubble, they are not allowed devices, I can't give them instruments because most instruments don't take to being washed, and they are not allowed to sing together. I have to prepare lessons for the one teacher (a non-specialist) in their bubble to deliver so needs careful explaining. I'm also expected to deliver the same online to those not in school. I also set up and deliver, via Teams to Nursery, Reception and year 1. The workload is now affecting my physical well-being as I am hunched over a computer for up to 18 hours daily preparing, delivering and video teaching. I do love my job but maintaining the quality of the music is so challenging in these circumstances. It felt more meaningful teaching online.
I hate going into school - working with key workers children and ones with education plans - really hard to teach as all in different year groups - we can't go close to children - can't do any marking. We have to stay in one room - no lunch breaks/ constantly cleaning surfaces - we have already had to shut down one bubble as a suspected case of covid - waiting on test results. The trying to set work for home - constant e- mailing trying to chase up children who have returned nothing. I am a Year 6 teacher - so missing out on a residential, end of year performances, leavers etc. Having to try reassure parents and children when I don't feel good myself. I actually no longer want to be a teacher.
I have been in school one day in this time, on the rota for covering key worker and vulnerable pupils, and think that bit of connection helps. Some colleagues who haven't set foot in the building since March 23rd are understandably anxious about a return and in the last two weeks we have had a lot of information from SLT and union reps which has increased that anxiety. I haven't felt anxious but the gearing up again to work to deadlines and timings when so much is out of my control feels tiring. I am happy with the proposals my school has made about a partial return of Y10 and 12 pupils and don't feel I will be any more at risk than when I am shopping at the moment but we have all become accustomed to a much slower pace (and lots of patient queuing!) and I think the adjustment to a 'normal' workday, however phased, will be difficult and , for me, unwelcome. I have had time to think and research for a curriculum reform project and it has made me realise that as a subject leader I have very little time usually to do this. We have started to have video team meetings/welfare checks but it still feels a little unreal that we will be easing out of the cocoon next week. We are using TEAMS to set and feedback on work and I can already see how we could use it as a supplement to 'normal' school in lots of really useful ways but as we have chosen (for wider safeguarding reasons) not to do any video teaching/webinars it is very difficult to gauge the levels of actual engagement and understanding. I have been frustrated that most of the food planning and cooking has defaulted to me, two children both in their 20s returned home fearing they would have no money as both in hospitality but have been furloughed, and the family feels a bit like it has regressed to their teenage years. I could be more forceful about sharing cooking but I can't be bothered and it is easier to budget/shop if one person is in charge (rolling eyes emoji). I had previously enjoyed not having to guess what other people might want to eat every bloody day!
I have been very grateful for my health, my very modest home and garden and my job and the thought of retirement being in the not too far future (possible in 5 years) whilst also recognising I didn't want to retire before this started! I have felt low, tearful, desperate, disappointed, over vocal in my opinions, drained from providing emotional support to my team with little visible support from the most senior levels. I have limited emotional support outside of work (live alone) so recharging myself and my batteries is self-driven, which ordinarily is fine but in this context is like climbing mountain after mountain with no sight of the end of mountains and therefore in the existential position of re-evaluating life and my purpose within life and how this can be best used in the current situation and how I want to use myself and my skills to their best life contribution going forward - which may not may not be in the workplace.
I have enjoyed the last 11 weeks working in school and I bring my child with me. Over the last 2 weeks however I have felt more anxious as the rest of the population ease out of lockdown and can't keep to the rules that have kept us safe up until now. Our surrounding school community have now come out of hiding in and out of each other’s garden and their children are playing together NOT social distancing. What has been the point of us keeping them safe for them to come out and act like this!! I've been anxious watching England go back to school, trying to put strategies in place to prepare for incoming pupils in August. If they continue with this social behaviour all summer I am worrying needlessly about social distancing so I have decided to leave it until August!!!
I have felt overwhelmed at times, not knowing the best way to engage students, trying to keep up with emails - responding to all KS3 students with a positive comment but having to chase KS4 and KS5 students for work. I empathize with the students but am anxious that, if disruption to learning persists, being away from school will have a devastating impact upon their learning and progress - quite frankly I don't know what more I can do to motivate them. I try to visualize the difficulties faced by my student's knowing that some/most/many do not have access to up to date computers and software, or even the support that they need. When asked to complete tasks by Senior Management I have found myself feeling very anxious, feeding inadequate in a way that I don't during normal day to day life. Thinking about going back fills me with dread - I wonder if things will ever be the same...
I have felt that my decisions about the risks that I take have been taken away from me, I have lost faith and trust in the guidance given after so many mixed messages. My school is following the guidance to the letter except having 3 teachers in each bubble on a rota each day. They have tried very hard but all of this fails to take account of asymptomatic carriers and transmission. I felt stressed and very anxious. Parental emails have reached an all time high and they appear to need more and more support. Nothing is ever enough, with live lessons watched by parents and marking all done online it is a very scrutinised way to work and everyone expects it to be normal. After a 40 minute phone call with a parent telling me how hard it is to work from home and support their child I wanted to scream - this is what teachers across the country are also expected to do. We get bad national press as well. I have never worked so hard as delivering the curriculum remotely, parents expect 8:30 - 3 full time lessons and it just isn't possible with sport and practical subjects removed. disheartened and thinking that I might leave teaching altogether - this could be the straw that breaks
I sometimes feel guilty about this, but I like the new style of working. I like designing lessons - I feel I have complete control over what I design and I think it's as fun as it can be for students. I've developed new skills such as how to podcast and how to do video lessons. In terms of helping remotely, I've had more time to send praise emails to parents where students have done excellent work. And they have been grateful. I have to admit I'm a control freak to an extent - and many teachers are, because of the way we've been trained to micro-manage every step and micro-scrutinize every lesson we've taught. So this period has been beneficial because, for once, I have been able to get everything 'done' every day. In terms of homeschooling my own son, the lesson doesn't have to finish at the bell - it finishes when he's understood something or when the work is complete (which might take longer than the nominally allotted time or might take less - in which case we can extend what he learns). There are so many resources out there. He is learning to be more independent and I am happy about this. Because my husband and I are both teachers, we are in the charmed position of being able to teach him all subjects (husband is a Physics teacher; I'm good at languages, English and Music). Basically, we're dealing with the grateful, motivated children and being kind and understanding with the ones who are anxious or struggling with motivation. Occasionally I have to fight battles personally against the demands of some staff for work from my son who is in Year 9 and remember that any work he does is a bonus and it is especially important that he takes advantage of working at his own pace rather than the arbitrary pace of the curriculum. He misses his friends a bit - not much - he is in constant phone contact with them. I have to say it has been good to be away from the pressures of school and the drive for grades grades grades as a teacher and as a parent with of a child with special needs.
I work for HE and so we never closed over lockdown we simply delivered everything remotely. I found this very hard - I generated pre-recorded audio lectures (students see slides and here my voice) which took the same length of time as it would to deliver the lecture on site. But in addition, to facilitate live access/interaction with students, I had also went through every lecture in the normal lecture time, which 75% of the time took longer than the actual lecture. So for 1 x 2 hour lecture, I generated an audio-recording prior to the lecture day which takes approx 1 hr 50mins. Then at time of normal lecture, I'd end up spending 2-3 hours talking to students about the lecture. The students feel that they are not getting enough access to lecturers so I prioritise this live discussion time with them, but it's far too time-consuming and mentally draining. For a 2 hour lecture, I am now spending between 4.5-5 hours delivering it (when adding up the pre-recording time and the live time). Do this for 5-6 lectures a week and there are simply not enough hours in the day to get this all done. I have 2 very young children that I am homeschooling too which also takes up head space and time. So in summary, I feel awful about work because when I am at work, I deliver a lecture face to face and that's it. Now I am having to provide so much more and this is killing me!
I would say that it has become harder. I expected to fall into some kind of routine but it is the absolute opposite- different rotas for key worker teaching, year 10 and year 12s, in and out of school is confusing and makes me nervous about missing something. I feel like I am on duty all of the time rather than confining my job to working hours. I have so many jobs on the go- rewriting lesson plans, mid-term plans, PowerPoints, arranging Zoom meetings, going over exam data and of course, this half term the emails from students and parents have increased enormously. The emails tend to me a mixture of work, admitting that there isn't any work and extreme anxiety. It is less about welfare now and more about getting that work in and being 'on call' for whatever is needed.
I'm happy to get on with my administration, preparation for the academic year ahead and support students via the telephone and team meets. What I'm finding a challenge is coping with uncertainty about the new academic year ahead. Our Course Lead advises that it will be business as usual i.e. face to face contact but with smaller groups which is raising my anxiety levels as I teach on a module which is mainly experiential learning for communication skills. Whilst the University is starting to consider risk assessment this isn't being discussed with staff. Our students are important but so are we as neither functions without the other. I'm fed up with waiting to hear what the 'plan' is and feels very like how the government are treating the public i.e. a little like mushrooms...The last two weeks actually feels worse as colleagues are jostling for power, some appear to be heard more than others and in discussion with our Course Lead I'm left feeling that I will have to toe the party line and I'm not special - all I've tried to do is put my point across re risk assessment and health & Safety for us all and feel as if I'm being coerced into working in a way in which I don't feel comfortable. I understand it's a real challenge when you have a government who don't seem to know what they're doing and using military language to get us out there, 'we'll fight them on the beaches' type attitude has cascaded to education while money not health appears to be the priority. I'm sad to say I'm thinking it might be time to leave.
It continues to be very stressful. I am working so many hours - one week I logged more than 66 hours. This means I am sitting at my computer and ipad screens for more than 12 hours a day. I have started walking round the house outside to get to the kitchen so I can see for a few seconds what the day is like. I grab food to bring back to my study to continue working and I find after 12 hours, I am feeling stressed and everything is taking longer than it should, simply because I'm mentally exhausted. I think if I went to the doctor (and had time to do so), she would sign me off, so obviously I'm not going to do that! My most down day was last week when a pupil decided it would be fun to mute me during the lesson. This felt like the last straw. It takes so long to input all the lesson resources to Showbie, also put info on Show My Homework so parents can see what I've set, also prepare really detailed powerpoints as some pupils can't/don't access the live lessons on Teams so they need more explanation of each task and include photos of the texts I'm teaching as some pupils didn't get chance to take their books home. It also takes an inordinate amount of time to try to keep marking the work pupils are doing. They leave it in random places in Showbie so I have to keep re-opening different folders/ assignments checking what's been uploaded since the last time I checked. If I don't keep on top of the marking then I don't know who is falling behind and also I think it would lead to less motivation from the pupils. Every week I have to send a list of who hasn't done what to my school so they can contact parents so this always takes a few hours at the end of each week. It has eased slightly in the last two weeks as I no longer need to teach Y13. However, we are continuing to teach our Y11s only we have switched to teaching 'introduction to A Level courses' which involve different work/ planning. We are still writing reports for our pupils (both subject comments and form teacher comments) and last week I spent a few hours checking all the grades I've submitted for each pupil for their GCSE and A Levels: English Language, two different Exam Boards as we have international students doing a different syllabus, Eng Lit GCSE and A Level, separate submissions of Spoken English marks, a different exam board for a student who joined the school half way through GCSE and so on and on.
It has been very intense - especially around the amount of information to process from the DfE, Local Authority and Government, how this information then is strategised, acted upon (operational) and ensuring our systems then get communicated with clarity to our staff team. My main areas of responsibilities also had to be put on 'pause' as my focus had to be 95% on our wider school opening. I feel worried at times that this won't be understood by staff and their expectation of me will be as before COVID-19. On the flip side I have learned an enormous amount about leadership, systems and people. Although it has been challenging at times in a way it has helped me to become more confident in myself about areas that I though weren't as developed as they should have been. I have also had to take a measured approach with my own mental health and where I, in the past, could get really worked up about situations/people, I now 'shake it off' and get on with the bigger pictures. On a personal level, I have enjoyed the lockdown, as I got to spend more time with my husband and children.
It has been very stressful. Multiple staff off who need to be covered. Multiple changes. Multiple Risk Assessments. High needs children coming back with the need for detailed Risk Assessment and plans - also the knowledge that staff supporting them are not able to socially distance. The idea that social distancing does not apply to school. The fact that many of our staff are BAME and at increased risk. The fact that teachers are being portrayed as lazy in the media and on right wing sites which bleeds into the mainstream view (when nothing is further from the truth). The fact we are asking staff to put their families at risk for a governmental whim. The pressure on cleaning staff & caretakers daily. The pressure on heads who already work incredibly long hours but are being put under further pressure by the lack of direction and responsibility from an inept government. The fact that decisions about reopening were announced without asking the people who would be best placed to offer advice (heads and teaching unions). The fact that we are constantly being asked what will happen and we do not know. The overwhelming realisation that 10 years of austerity has meant schools taking on social care and health roles so we are now the only service who is aware of the majority of vulnerable children.
Its been excellent having the children back and I feel that it has been so successful because of the hard work and plans we put in place. More and more children have returned this week and we now have 94 children in today. I was hugely frustrated by your e mail which appears to me to put a negative spin on children returning. I was furious with unions who were campaigning not to have the school re open further. I think it embarrasses our profession when you see how other key workers, NHS staff, supermarket workers are able to continue without so much fuss. I know other colleagues feel like me and are delighted with the children's return but our voice isn't being hear because you are more likely to complete a survey if you want to have a negative view. You are more likely to hit headlines and be in the media by being angry and negative rather than saying 'it's fine. '
It's taken over mine and my family's life even more than ever. Hugely anxious, stressed and tired of working so hard and not having a chance for adrenaline levels to properly subside. No rest over half term. Busy time of year usually anyway because we have to fill in reports which usually takes up the whole of the half term holiday and then evenings after school. All that got shifted forwards to term time because of work associated with re-opening. Huge stress because of workload, still have to plan usual homelearning materials, but also have to plan for going back to school in wider numbers. The school has been completely reorganised. The risk assessment is over 20 pages long. Real fear and uncertainty about the new arrangements re staff and children. Lunchtimes will be less than 20 minutes long. Will be rushing around even more that usual, not having time to catch breath at a time when have to project calm aura even more than ever due to children's anxieties. Can't see an end to this stress. The school will have to go through many reorganisations before all children can come back to school. No external help. Everyone seems to be planning more or less in isolation, thinking isn't joined up. To be honest, thinking of getting out of this profession.
I've found the easing of restrictions really difficult as lots of people seem to have gone back to normal - neighbours having people round before the Monday change and seeing people in other people's homes has really annoyed and upset me. I feel a lot of frustration at things which normally only irk me - for example, the grasscutters have been and on one particular patch there are just mounds of left dog faeces. Seeing all the image of people crowding beaches and leaving behind their waste, it feels as thought people aren't learning anything from I see as a moment to pause, reflect, and change the world we live in. I hope there will be greater success with the Black Lives Matter campaign, which left me unable to work Wednesday because I was just reading and absorbing so many stories of hurt from black people, it was very emotional. I think I have felt less optimistic in the last two weeks than I did before. The Dominic Cummings situation was just laughable, and I think led to lots of people giving up on lockdown measures.
Left out of school communications. I know that significant planning has gone on but there has been very little communication - other than to celebrate what some students are achieving which is nice but doesn't help with my own planning. A consultation has taken place with teachers on how much we are prepared to come in - and we have heard nothing back yet. Students were asked which subject bubble they want to be in with no regard for which subjects need face-to-face teaching more - and we haven't heard the results of that either. We are, however, only going in for training the week of the 15th and then having more students in the following week so there is still time. I am being patient as I know they have many difficult decisions and actions to effect but my stress levels are now rising.
Lockdown is fine - my family are making it work. We have adjusted well to having a student and two working parents in the lounge. Work has been more stressful. I am SLT and we have been meeting and discussing regularly getting year 10 back. We met (virtually) as an SLT during half term once we had the guidance and we had to change the tentative plans we had already worked out to take into account the 25% we also reacted to a parent survey which showed nearly half wouldn't send students in for lessons. Doing work on this has resulted in doing the task several times over to adapt. More over as SLT one of us was in school every day of half term with key worker children. Relaxing and switching off from work is very hard. We are already starting to talk about September and how challenging it will be. We are concerned about the new year 7s. We are very worried about current year 10 and the gap between those who have access to wide range of resources at home and those who are collected print outs to work through. There needs to be recognition that current year 10 actually have more disruption to their learning and courses than the year 11s who were pretty much at the point of revising. Year 10 also need to be assured that teachers knowing their ability is going to count for something and a reduction in content - these are the things that are really taking up the time and thoughts of SLT in the past two weeks. We have settled on only face to face interviews at specified times in large venues for our year 10s as staff concerned that it is less easy to keep bubbles and social distancing in our narrow corridor 1950s build school.
Lots of uncertainty. We didn't know how many children we were expecting as the head had not canvassed the parents so there was anxiety around that. Feel let down by the unions who seemed to do very little to stop us returning to school and what little they did was too late. Feel very let down by the government who have sent us back to school without meeting their 5 steps or the unions 5 steps. We have been lied to and lied to and lied to. The gov don't want to line up 2m apart in parliament but they expect us to do that with our children in school. The Dominic Cummings affair has made me feel very angry and upset as i have done nothing other than come to work/stay at home during lock down and have not seen my son, father or sister since February half term. His actions have made lots of people no longer care about lockdown and i fear for a second wave of the virus and fear that the gov will be reluctant to close schools quickly enough to stem the virus in school.
More stressed and anxious, as the routines we've built are being disrupted by the return of 25% of yr10 and 12. This is increasing workload as we're expected to deliver hybrid courses and maintain online learning. They have also announced summer school - really stressed that it will disrupt the long break (I'm in the independent sector), and reduce opportunities to see family if lockdown eases, as my mum is shielding and I'll need to self-isolate for 14 days after every period in school. Personally, as a single household, the easing of lockdown has in some ways been worse. Now can see family and close friends, but have to keep 2m away. Heart-breaking to not be able to give and receive a hug after 11 weeks, or to play properly with my nephews. Crying a lot.
My role & circumstance is slightly atypical as I was working in an administrative capacity for the Emergency Provision, which gave me enough work to feel useful. This has now ended with the phased re-opening, so my workload has almost evaporated overnight. As I live with someone who is Shielded, I have been afforded the consideration of not working on-site with children, which is good given my anxiety about bringing the virus home, however the combination of these factors leaves me at a loss for purpose and my mood is a lot worse than it has been previously. I've gone through the emotional rollercoaster since the announcement of the planned phased re-opening of schools was made, I still largely disagree with the endeavour, but as with many of us have become apathetic and worn-down to the point of accepting that we're powerless to an untrustworthy government, and have a general melancholic outlook to life at the moment.
My work cuts me off from my family/young children. I can see many other families with young children walking by in the sunshine. I sit all day at my desk and have so much work to do that I work evenings/through the night. I am only able to take a walk on the weekends. I cannot enjoy my weekends because of the awareness of work that needs to be done, knowledge that my colleagues are working all weekend, and the growing pressure of being seen not to contribute or pull my weight/falling behind on work simply because I am spending time with my children and husband. This impacts the family dynamics as my husband is exhausted and resentful about the level of childcare he is undertaking. My work is directly relevant to C-19 so I need to engage with external organisations to support the health response. I am also in a leadership position in my university and spending a lot of time trying to keep everything running (business as usual) and adapted as we move into blended learning. I need a break but feel that any time away brings more stress because of the build up of work.
My work has kept me going. Nothing feels as good as working with my students, teaching them, watching them learn and grow. Many days have been frustrating, demoralizing when students wanting to learn struggle with their technology, when students reluctant to learn are disengaged, when students who are unmotivated lack parent support and supervision. I have felt powerless to help in these situations. However, I have persevered. It has been difficult to keep going, but I have pushed myself for my students. It has taken all of my energy and at the end of the day I am depleted. My days, however last 12 to 14 hours, and the work continues on the weekend. I miss seeing my mom, my friends, my colleagues and of course my students. During this time, my daughter tried to harm herself and was hospitalized for three weeks. It was a scary time. I like the fact that I have been able to spend so much time with my husband, and I love being able to work with my dogs sleeping at my feet. I don't like to complain, because I know that I am blessed beyond measure. I have a job that I love, a nice home, and a loving family.
Neglected. Undervalued. The small amount of information I have received from my school demonstrates a total lack of respect or understanding for the subject I teach. Despite teaching a course that has 75% coursework with many practical aspect that have to be managed according to social distancing the school has prioritised other subjects, many without any practical aspect at all. My anxiety levels are rising as I suspect as a department we'll have a lot less time to support our students completing their coursework and will still be questioned as to why they didn't 'perform' as indicated by their level predictions in their final assessments. iT would seem reasonable to me that the school equally shared the available time between subjects. This strategy is sure to stress the students more as time progresses and work must be submitted for marking.
Oh blimey. A roller coaster. We are a two teacher household, both in middle leadership positions at different schools. We have a now nearly 19 month old daughter. Throughout this we have had no childcare. Our nursery closed and grandparents are shielding. So we've had to try to juggle our work and our daughter between us. We created a timetable which helped but the biggest thing was nursery was reopening on 1st June. This was going to save us. But they decided to push back opening until 22nd June and we have been left trying to get ready to reopen and indeed both heading back into school from the 15th with looking after her. It has been utterly insane. If we aren't working then we are cooking, cleaning, caring for her, washing, trying to get shopping. We have literally both had no time off though out this lockdown and the cracks are certainly beginning to show for me. Half term was particularly hard as people kept saying 'are you enjoying your rest?' when it was yet another week of non-stop work for us. We are also both working in our evenings, sometimes until very late but always at least until 9/10pm. I get up at 6am and beginning working for my daughter gets up and it's non-stop from there. I would say these last two weeks have been the worst as, understandably there is much more to do with reopening on the horizon. We also committed to more thinking we had childcare in place. So these two weeks have been probably the hardest I've gone through since the early days of having a baby. Just no rest and really on the edge of coping.
Since lockdown I have been in school almost every day - including throughout the school holidays. Time spent with key worker and vulnerable children has felt like a very valuable public service however since 1st June and easing it is feeling increasingly like schools are only a pawn in an economic and political game - a game which has no rules and a game we keep being publicly accused of cheating at!!!. The logistics of organising safe, socially distanced 'bubbles' has meant that we can only offer part-time to year R and Year 6, full-time for year 1 but this means that we are now FULL in our keyworker bubbles and so can not accept any more vulnerable children or any new children of critical workers. It is a mess and we feel that we should have stayed open for an ever increasing group of vulnerable and keyworker children instead of what has been forced upon us. We are now putting every member of our staff at risk every day - a fact that we are mindful of - with very limited ways to ensure we stay safe.
Some benefits - more time with partner ( we are both working at home so able to see each other more in the day) and daughter (through home schooling), more financially secure as less money going out in petrol commuting to work and driving to parents who are not local, and on going out. The above have meant can focus on work without these worries. Also less time consuming meetings at work (I work at a university) that may not be relevant to my roles but you feel you should go to. Finding it hard looking at the computer all day and days are long. I have split my 3 working days over 4 so doing 5 and a half hours of my work and then about 3 hours of home schooling. Cooking, laundry and house work on top of that. My partner helps when he can with home schooling and is good on chores when he has time. Finding doing the shopping stressful as partner has asthma and we are shielding him. I have been really scared about bringing the virus back to him. Missing my 87 year old Mum terribly as normally see her every week although it is a one and a half hour drive. Have seen her once last week and will go more now in the future. All these sometimes impact on sleeping and focusing in the day. Work have been really supportive and it has bought our small lecturing team together but it is tiring. Also it has been upsetting hearing about all the deaths and seeing racial unrest in the country. I think you have to just focus on your daily tasks and think you are doing your bit - this and being woth family and having online chats with family have helped. I think it will all come right.
still love the job but frustrated at being deskbound - endless zoom/team meetings; risk assessments; paperwork for re-opening; keeping colleagues in the loop and easing their stress/allaying their fears is exhausting; 100-200 emails per day that my classes are suffering - often marking their work at 9:30pm onwards after a day that started at 7:30 with only a few comfort breaks and a 20 minute lunch; have not had time to teach my Y9s a live lesson this week Lockdown - feels like the majority of the population have given up on lockdown restrictions - keeping 2m etc - find this frustrating when venturing out for fresh air/shopping - will make life harder 15/06 onwards, it is already a 'broken' record with some of our keyworker/vulnerable pupils who genuinely seem to forget - is it not reinforced at home? in society? or is it just an inbuilt unavoidable reaction when in the school building - it's what they have always done ... hard habit to break?
That the wok I am producing may not be used . Pressure to log in and log off . CPD not always applicable. Feel uneasy about going back in work. No clear vision from leadership of how the school will operate for Covid 19. Other staff have felt pressurised to work even with children to look after. I feel anxious at times as I have not slept well . Feel guilty at not being able to complete tasks at times. No clear leadership from the government. No proven theories about how teachers will be affected by working with pupils . More time needed for help for staff and pupils before they go back to school. - Mental health wise That the information given keeps changing . There will be a second wave as we go back to school. I have been in school and nothing has been deep cleaned . No foot operated hand sanitisers . Pupils use equipment left out to use . The pupils forget about social distancing and are carriers of Covid 19. .
Two weeks ago I felt optimistic about the quality of the risk assessments undertaken to ensure vigilance and safety on site as we prepared to receive more children back to school. Practical preparations were going well in terms of readying the learning spaces, cleaning and devising safe entry and exit points for drop off and collection. Staff were well versed and heavily involved in these preparations. A final virtual staff meeting was hosted by the Head on the morning of 29th May and we were all set to receive Key Worker children plus children from Y1 and Y6. By 3:30pm that same afternoon, all these plans and hope were shattered. Left feeling demoralised and undervalued and again, unsure of next steps. The hardest part was letting down our families. In half term. With two days notice. I am shielding at home and have felt immense guilt about not being able to physically be with the team at this hugely stressful time. I have been heavily involved in checking generic risk assessments and writing individual risk assessments for those with additional special needs or medical needs. I have also been heavily involved in maintaining our safeguarding procedures, giving advice and taking action where appropriate. I think it is safe to say I have certainly been extremely busy. Can't believe I ever used to get time off in half terms!
We held online exams for year 10 just before half term - they are taking much longer to mark than when on paper, there are so many incidences of copy and paste that the whole activity seems a waste of time as we know the results are not going to be used, but I have still got to mark them all. At the same time I have students who need 1:1 help with work so setting up video conferences etc as well as setting and marking normal work. I am going back to working the kind of hours I did during my NQT year. We are looking at adding small group video calls for every year 10 student over the next few weeks and I am not sure how this is going to effect work scheduling.
Where do I start? The university I work for is making life impossible. I can't count the number of emails I've received thanking us for doing such a great job and acknowledging the difficulties we're operating under, and then, then,.... they publicly announce commitments to a new way of teaching from September that directly contravenes almost every message they have given to staff over the last few weeks. Two days ago the Vice Chancellor went on national television and they launched a publicly facing webpage announcing key policies that have not been shared with staff, let alone consulted on, that have massive and disturbing implications for our workloads and safety. We still have not been given any information about how many people can be safely on campus at any one time, Health and Safety protocols have not yet been agreed nor risk assessments carried out, and yet they make a firm commitment on national television that all courses will return to some face to face teaching in September. Many staff do not even know about this yet, if they happened to miss the TV appearance and the website launch, as staff have not been formally notified of these decisions. I only know about it because I have a significant role in our local union branch. I cannot begin to explain how angry, demoralised, and upset this has made me. Huge amounts of time, care and work are going into marketing and PR; no amount of time, care and work are going into supporting the staff who actually have to deliver this new way of teaching in three months time. I am absolutely appalled.
Wok does become increasingly demanding of my time beyond a standard day, but that is quite normal for this time of the year, with distance learning programmes, assessment marking and exam boards. All the work is easily achievable in lockdown, although trying to convince colleagues to pick up the phone and talk is till as much an issue as it was when physically at work. Too many emails and not enough brief talking. Zoom/Teams has become more manageable and meetings are a lot more efficient, but do miss the chat that exists around these , as would happen on-site, with a cup of coffee. Making sure there are down time meet ups are important. There is a much more collegiate feel about meetings though and 'chat' does allow for those who may not always feel so confident to engage to do so. Time management is the major issue, although I am a lot less stressed than if I was physically at work and having to commute 3hrs a day. There is flexibility. The other issue with working is that others do not think you are, because they are not, either due to retirement, being furloughed or because there still is this misconception that academics/lecturers have so much time 'off' and to do their work! At least by physically going to work that is clearly defined from home. Woking from home makes for a different perspective. I am due to retire in the next 18mths and have been tempted to go sooner, which I could, so that I don't have to physically return to work. I am enthused by my students and my subject which is my motivator and that I can do anywhere.
Work has been extremely pressured. I had to work a lot during the half term break and, once again, my own children were left to their own devices while if did pressing work. I struggle even to get out to exercise as I am working so hard to juggle my own kids schooling and my workload. I end up working weekends to clear a couple of hours on a Monday to support my own kids. One of my kids , primary aged, is provided with very little work and support is non existent so I am also having to plan for her lessons too. It feels dreadful that I am working flat out for my students while others sit back expecting to be able to pick it all up when school return to normal whereas my worry is that this will not be for an extremely long time.
Work is extremely stressful and I feel very uncertain about how to go about achieving some of my work related goals because of lockdown. I believe lockdown has had a very negative impact on my work and will negatively affect my career progress. I also feel somewhat pessimistic because the work goals I want to achieve do not feel realistic alongside my desire to provide the best homeschooling for my child. Thus I do not feel able to address the challenges I need to in order to move forward with my research and also my career plans. I feel concerned for my child and very much want to support her learning. Thus I feel guilty about not achieving either goals very well and this is very distressing. The future seems very uncertain. There are no clear plans for my child's school returning and no clear plans for how my job will look. I am in the highest risk health category and sop this adds to the stress of lockdown. In saying this, I am not someone who spends much time worrying and ruminating, which is why I do not feel particularly sad or down all the time. However, conflicts arise multiple times throughout the day due to situations that naturally occur and therefore the negative emotions are experienced frequently.