To say ‘what a year’ would be an understatement. 2020 is a year that’s going to be etched in our minds for a very long time. There have been silver linings for some but it’s a year that’s taken its toll on many.
Teachers and head teachers have faced huge challenges. Teaching online lessons doesn’t come without it’s challenges: reaching those children who lack equipment and internet connections, supporting disadvantaged students and *all* students whose circumstances are challenging is just the start.
Teachers, in particular, were put in the unenviable position of rapidly pivoting to delivering quality lessons online, often at the same time as trying to manage homeschooling their own children; all in the face of being pilloried by some media as failing in their duty as the nations’ babysitters.
And just to throw another spanner in the works, on 15 December, as schools were about to break up for Christmas, they were instructed to set up and run mass testing from the beginning of the spring term. So now, besides being educators and babysitters they’re also expected to be test and trace agents for the government. And all this in the midst of woeful logistics and chaotic communication.
Despite threatening to sue schools who opted for online teaching in the last week before the Christmas break, a garbled set of messages has been hurled at teachers. And, while they desperately try to make sense of this, newspapers are making excuses for the government’s mismanagement. The Daily Telegraph, for example, has this mischievous headline on today’s front page: “Teachers demand closure of every school in the country.”
All of this is of course profoundly demoralising, especially for head teachers who have been expected to bear the brunt of the DfE’s stream of semi-consciousness approach to communications.
But we also know that none of this will stop teachers doing what they always do – giving of their best to help children. So, here’s to the teachers, who will keep holding things together, and soldier on. And when all this is over and the dust settles, the role of schools and teachers in supporting their communities will be seen.
So, dear colleagues, be kind – to yourselves, your colleagues and especially your families. Hang in there. This is a global pandemic, however much sniping parents might resent the inconveniences of keeping communities safe. Perfection under these circumstances is neither possible, nor desirable.
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One foot in front of the other is all that’s required. We salute you!