I began my career working as a Level 2 teaching assistant the summer after I graduated from university with a degree in Contemporary History. Fast-forward seven years: I am now in my fourth term as deputy headteacher of the same school I joined in September 2013. At 27, I’ve been told that I was most likely the youngest deputy head in the local authority of Sandwell. On paper, it looks like I’ve had a meteoric rise at an incredibly rapid pace. Whilst this is true, it is a combination of opportunity, skill, personal ambition and commitment to achieving the very best for our pupils which has contributed to my rapid career progression.
As teachers, a lot of us are guilty of cramming our ‘free-time’ with as many fun activities as possible. Donning our roles as partners, parents, carers and / or pet owners, we exhibit an almost misplaced guilt that maybe we’ve spent too much time on work recently, leading to a wellbeing-reducing, drastic need to overcompensate.
How was your last term?
The final term of the year was obviously very different to normal. My school reacted thoughtfully and decisively to closure by setting up an online provision focused on supporting students to access education. The provision constantly evolved to incorporate different forms of education experiences, using technology to support students further.
If you had said in February that we would spend the whole of Summer Term teaching from home, I would have been gobsmacked. The last term has been the strangest of my decade-long teaching career. Not all of the events that unfolded post-lockdown were unpleasant. If you believe some online ‘commentators’, teachers spent that time sitting on the couch, which I did at some points. I spent more time with my own children, even becoming their teacher for a couple of months (more difficult than teaching my pupils). I provided online learning for my class whilst also spending one day a week supporting key worker children.
Covid-19 had struck. We sent the children home from Roundthorn Primary Academy three days before schools closed nationally to all but key workers and vulnerable children. We’d had an outbreak; a number of staff fell ill and I was taking no chances. With little time to plan and just a few photocopied sheets in hand, we sent the children home not knowing what the immediate future might look like or when we’d see them again.
I am not the only teacher who dreaded “going back” after the Easter break, but I had more to dread than most as I had been off sick for a number of weeks before lockdown. This meant that I had no preparation time for remote learning and felt totally out of the loop, both professionally and digitally!
Teachers and schools will need little reminding that in recent weeks they have been the subject of a number of newspaper headlines, most of which haven’t been positive about our profession. Likewise, some social media commentators have had an open season in sharing their opinions about education. This has implications for the wellbeing of our staff in these challenging times.