Seismic shift for teachers in and out of lockdown

Ian Dickinson, principal Pigeon Mountain School says notions of schools ‘reopening’ are not altogether accurate. Photo supplied

Twice, at really short notice (which was totally understandable for obvious reasons), teachers across New Zealand have faced a seismic shift in their core roles owing to lockdowns.

It’s important to stress how adaptable teachers have needed to be during their time connecting to students who are no longer present in the classroom.

I know our teachers have worked incredibly hard to reshape their programmes, as well as focusing more intently on student wellbeing and I’m sure those working in other schools have faced similar challenges and worked tirelessly to overcome them.

In talking to parents and the community in recent months, it is evident that great teachers have mitigated some of the potentially harmful impacts of the isolation that lockdowns could lead to.

Our school has done this by breaking our challenge into three parts – we’ve strived to maintain not only learning but routines too, as well as the connections that exist between our students, families and teachers.

These conversations with parents have also reinforced one widely-overlooked function of schooling, the social element and the need for students to exercise their social and emotional learning in the physical presence of classmates.

I’ve lost track of the number of stories related to me about children feeling lonely, or missing friends from school.

It was great to return to school on Monday, with our students and teachers. However, notions of schools ‘reopening’ are not altogether accurate-our buildings may have been closed for the second time in 2020 because of Covid-19 but our schools have very much remained open throughout.