The Head Teacher Magazine
Fleur Sexton DL shares smart ways to maximise the skills learnt in lockdown
Lockdown was challenging for everyone, especially children. However, challenges also bring positive outcomes and we need to optimise the positives – to recognise, build upon and celebrate the skills learnt during lockdown.
Resilience – the ‘superpower’ that everyone needs; flexibility and the ability to adapt to change, now that uncertainty is a certainty
Time management – children have been planning their own days without the usual structure of the classroom, while having to negotiate for resources, shared digital devices and limited connectivity at home.
Troubleshooting – pupils have managed to find ways to upload work, communicate with teachers and navigate new learning platforms while resolving problems along the way.
Emotional intelligence – it’s been a tough ride without the usual channels of support offered by schools and social services, but young people have stepped up, looking out for each other, being aware of signs of depression and anxiety, and helping their peers get back on their feet.
Stress management – children have recognised the importance of wellbeing and taken time to be more reflective; to process negative thoughts and feelings and deal with them, making the most of remote communication and finding ways to express themselves using tech as a tool.
So how can teachers help students further develop these skills? Teachers need to recognise, celebrate and build on their pupils’ achievements over lockdown. There’s a focus on academic ‘catch-up’ in maths and English, which is important, but establishing where pupils are emotionally and how resilient they feel is vital. We don’t know what stresses they have coped with over the past months. All students need stability first – a holistic approach before they tackle academic work.
Children will have different needs and, for some, academic catch-up can be the focus – but all will need to continue building confidence and resilience. Team challenges build these skills alongside communication and collaboration, and they’re fun. Life online has been very different; most young people will relish being back with their peers and teachers, having more structure to their day, so make it exciting and enjoyable.
Teachers need to be given the autonomy to do that. Make use of those newly acquired IT skills – blended learning offers access for disabled students, gives those who need to consolidate their learning more time, and keeps students with behavioural issues involved via Zoom without disrupting the class.
Finally, broaden their horizons – continue to develop online collaboration and communication skills. Consider partnering with schools internationally; use technology to enable students to participate in choir or orchestra or interview role models. The virtual world can open up new opportunities beyond pupils’ perceptions of ‘who they are’ and ‘who they can be’.