It’s been a ‘back to school’ like no other. Teachers have had to cope with coronavirus restrictions and help children adjust to being back in the classroom after months away.
CAS members have responded imaginatively, particularly to the challenges of teaching computing, whether that’s developing online lessons, new cleaning regimes or preparing emergency ‘paper packs’.
How have you been this September? Are you able to use your computer classroom? What tips do you have for other schools?
CAS Outreach manager Tim Wilson spoke to CAS Community Leaders working in primary, secondary schools and SEND provision to find out more about how teachers are adjusting:
Rachael Coultart, St Nicholas CofE (VA) Primary School and Nursery, CAS Community Leader of CAS Stevenage Primary Community
“I teach in nursery so no social distancing, as well as Y2. We have some really good systems up and running, what seems to be the main compl complete from teachers seems to be the length of time it takes to wash hands.
“The children came back to school so enthusiastically, they were really ready to learn, almost desperate for school. Even the new nursery children, waved goodbye to parents and came into a new setting enthusiastically.
“We’ve had to think about ways of doing things, playdough, sand. In Y2 we’ve introduced more ‘brain breaks’, physical activity at their desk. We’ve put aside our normal computing curriculum after discovering just how many children don’t have access to technology at home. We’ve focussed on the basics. As Computing Subject Lead, I’ve devised a bounce back curriculum., or a recovery curriculum, so we’re all doing the same thing, but at different levels. So last week it was all about how technology helps in our daily lives, thinking about what tech is and what’s it for. Another week it’s about how do we stay safe online. Another week we looked at networks and why do we have user names and passwords.
“We’re concentrating on really basic things. We’ve all got emergency packs to go home, should a bubble need to close. We have packs ready to hand out so that those children who don’t have internet access we know that they’ve got a paper worksheets, chalks, scissors, pencils in a wallet with their name on – and home it goes.”
Steff Walker, South Bromsgrove High School. CAS Community Leader of CAS North Worcestershire Mixed Community.
“It’s been quite daunting, particularly in a computer room. I’ve been focussing on how to make my classroom work for me and how to make computer lessons exciting from sitting at the front of the classroom which is quite challenging.
We’re having to think about things like the positioning of my desk and the routines of students coming into the class, trying to keep two metres apart.
“We’re getting them to sanitise their keyboard and mouse and it’s routines like that which we’ve had to get used to, before we even think about the curriculum. We can’t teach physical computing this term because of sharing equipment so we’ve been trying to think of exciting ways to do things without actually going up to the children at the computer. It’s been a challenge, for instance with our Y7, teaching them how to log on to computer systems without actually going up to the computer and pointing at the screen.”
Rory Matthews, Woodlands Meed Special School, CAS Community Leader of CAS Burgess Hill SEND Community
“I work in SENC, working with the secondary age group. First week back was very good we were well provided with technology and also with staffing. All of our precautions were working well. But, after that week I had to isolate after a relative developed a cough,and stay off school, and wait for test results. This is going to be happening all over the country. However, I’ve been working remotely and have been able to deliver lessons into school via Microsoft Teams, and also using SeeSaw, which is aimed at primary school but has been brilliant for us. I can set work on SeeSaw and see the responses in real time and mark and comment.”
Martin Sexton, Mildenhall College Academy, CAS Community Leader, CAS Mildenhall Mixed Community
“Our school has been really good in trying to make things as close to normal as possible. We do still have access to computers. We’ve switched from five lesson days to three lesson days so that we can clean in between different bubbles coming into the classroom.
“We’re using sanitiser wipes which speed things up, the children wipe down keyboard, mouse and desk. That adds time to the lesson and we’re losing ten minutes at the start as they get used to it. We do the cleaning at the end of the lesson too. I’ve also had to self-isolate. It took me three days to get tested and I did some Teams work with my students, largely sixth formers to begin with.“I’m thinking about trialling Teams when we have students self-isolating, to try to minimise disruption as much as possible. On the whole, the measures have worked as much as possible. We’re trying to teach from the front of classroom as much as possible, but there are times when you have to go over to a student. We have visors if we need them. “