The CAS community has been quick to support teachers to meet the challenges of lockdown. The closure of schools to most pupils has seen CAS communities and outreach managers step in to share ideas and resources where they are most needed and in ways that teachers can access quickly and easily.
“In the first weeks of this term we’ve tried to offer the support that teachers need, and that has meant giving teachers advice, tips and answers, quickly,” said Wendy Piccinini, CAS Outreach Manager. “For instance, we hosted a CAS meeting on how to use Microsoft Teams and ran it as a lunch-time session, with short demos and a Question-and-Answer session, and we had really good attendance.
"Teachers have always turned to teachers to find out what works in the classroom, and they’re doing that with remote learning too. It has really shown the strength of CAS as a network where teachers can share ideas. Lunchtime sessions also seem to work well, fitting in with busy schedules so we’ll be looking at continuing with those,” she continued. “We’ve had sessions on Seesaw and Google classrooms too – teachers wanted to ask lots of questions, on all kinds of things, like safe-guarding behaviour management and creating & responding to assignments and the issue of whether to record lessons. There are lots of different approaches in different schools and our meetings reflect that diversity of experience and are a chance to share that.”
CAS has continued to grow despite lockdown and school closure. January has seen the launch of the CAS Primary Kingston and Richmond Community led by Jordan Bickel.
“The launch meeting was extremely well attended, thanks in part to Jordan’s work to connect primary teachers. We had more than 60 people sign up for her launch meeting, which had a focus on NCCE provision, and we received lots of positive feedback from the meeting,” said Wendy.
A new CAS network has been launched in Enfield with its first session held this week and focussing on tips for remote learning. CAS meetings have been an opportunity to discuss many issues around remote delivery, whether that’s safeguarding issues or managing behaviour. CAS outreach manager, Sarah Zaman, based in the north east said that CAS’ national reach has been a real strength through the lockdown.
“CAS’ network includes experts with a wide range of experience and skills who are based right across the country. We have a massive resource and that we can draw on,” she said. “Many of our communities are in remote locations, but they’ve been able to access the same resource and expertise as teachers based anywhere in the country.
"In the first few weeks, teachers wanted urgent assistance to use remote platforms and we had lots of primary teachers particularly who were not used to teaching remotely, joining our meetings for advice. That’s where CAS has been so useful, we can offer really useful free support from experts, who know about the classroom and the challenges of teaching, quickly,” said Sarah. “Now it feels like we’re moving to the next phase. Our sessions are more focussed, and we’ve been running sessions focussing on other platforms. Our CAS Kirklees leader Sabiha Munshi led a session on ‘how to ‘ guide on Class Dojo which also proved popular.“
Tim Wilson, CAS Outreach Manager, said that following the initial impact of setting up remote learning at short notice, the issues were now moving on to look at how to deliver better outcomes.
“Teachers are eager to know how to make teaching better. They want to talk about delivering engaging lessons and improving comprehension and engagement. We are adapting to what teachers are saying and are giving them positive ideas that can drive engagement,” said Tim.
The CAS programme of meetings and events reflects that shift, with tips and advice. For instance, Wednesday 27 Jan, 6pm sees a session led by Spencer Organ, on the topic of Online learning with Teams: Easy wins to increase engagement with students.
“With timetables being taught remotely, I have been reflecting on some of the successes and areas for development as I've been teaching remote lessons on Teams since September,” said Spencer. “I’ll be looking at some of the easy-wins and work-flows that can really help you.”
Thursday 28 January sees sessions on Google Classroom and Using Teams in primary School and of course, the programme of events continues through February. CAS also has a page with advice and tips on remote delivery.
CAS will be continuing to ensure it offers a programme which meets the needs of teachers and we’re keen to hear from our members about any ideas you have to support you in these difficult weeks.
“We know teachers are working incredibly hard in difficult
circumstances,” said Beverly Clarke, National Community Manager for CAS.
“However, we’ve continued to see lively, well-attended sessions as well as the launch of new communities. I’m incredibly proud of our CAS members and communities who have shown just how valuable it is to share expertise, skills and support especially during this lockdown.We’ll continue to listen to our teachers and deliver the support where and when it’s needed.”