The COVID-19 pandemic has changed life for many of us in so many ways. In fact, you might be hard-pressed to find a profession or industry that it hasn't touched and altered in some way. Teaching is certainly no exception. When schools shut and people were required to stay at home, there was an immediate shift in how education was delivered to pupils. While some students could still be taught at school (if their parents worked in a care setting, for example), most classrooms closed. Focusing on delivering the curriculum online became the most pressing matter. This unexpected and forced switch to online education was undoubtedly a massive challenge for pupils and teachers alike. However, with these challenges, opportunities also arose. Some of these opportunities helped to change how teachers teach and pupils learn, and they paved the way for new education methods, communication practices, and ways of delivering information for good.
Just some of the ways that teaching has changed since the Covid-19 pandemic
The ability to adapt
Teachers have to be naturally adaptable as education evolves and changes, and the pandemic helped them to become even more flexible in their approach. Discovering strategies to ensure that course material can be delivered and taught remotely and creating more robust course materials to facilitate that means there are now more options for teaching pupils whose circumstances might prevent them from being physically present in the classroom all the time.
New teaching resources
Exploring new teaching methods was critical during the pandemic. Remote teachers may have recorded lessons, shared videos, held webinars, or created new materials adapted for an online learning environment. All these resources will not go to waste. Despite pupils being taught in the classroom environment once more, teachers have an opportunity to switch to a pedagogy-first approach. Course materials can be shared and absorbed outside of the classroom, thus freeing up class time to ask questions, apply the knowledge and learning and make assessments.
A better understanding of how to work with technology
The pandemic also provided both teachers and pupils with the opportunity to see how technology could better assist and complement the delivery of course content. Because everyone was forced to engage with this technology, they were able to discover its possibilities as well as its limitations. Many aspects of learning and communication have benefitted from the use of technology. Where technology has failed, new initiatives to improve it or adapt it for future use are beginning to emerge. With a whole range of digital tools available, teachers and pupils have been able to discover their preferences regarding online learning and what doesn't work for them.
A more empathetic approach
The pandemic was undoubtedly tough on pupils, and some teachers agree that during the pandemic, they had to adapt their methods to not only ensure that they were delivering a high standard of teaching but also being hyper-aware of pupils feelings too. A remote environment meant it was more difficult to read the room, and teaching often had to be completed at a slower pace. Teachers often adopted a "warm calling"method, letting shy students know they would be called upon to discuss particular topics or answer questions in advance.
A tighter focus on what's important
Teachers also found that the pandemic altered their approach to course materials. They were able to focus on the critical elements of the material and compressing activities, so they were better suited to an online environment too. These practices, as well as allowing more autonomy and flexibility for students to carry out their own learning, are ones that many teachers wish to continue to employ even after the COVID-19 measures have been lifted.
A focus on health and safety
Another critical aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic was its influence on the way that people interact with one another. When social distancing measures were still in place, people were required to stay two meters apart, wear face coverings and wash their hands regularly. While these measures have now been dropped, some schools have updated their health and safety policies. Schools have done so to ensure that they reduce future instances of COVID-19 amongst pupils and staff, as well as ensure that any spread of future viruses is kept to a minimum. Unsurprisingly, a school environment can be a hotbed for germs and diseases to spread. Schools have become more thoughtful about creating more spacious social spaces and encouraging good hygiene practices such as regular hand washing to minimise the spread of disease.
A teacher shortage?
One of the more concerning effects of COVID-19 on the teaching profession is the number of teachers that have resigned from their posts or are reported to be considering leaving the profession. Pre-Pandemic, there was already a teacher shortage, but with the pressure of trying to deliver the curriculum remotely and under stressful circumstances, many teachers were considering walking away. Conversely, the economic uncertainty caused, in part, by the pandemic could mean that some teachers who were thinking about leaving or seeking new employment end up staying put. One thing is sure during the COVID-19 crisis, teachers worked incredibly hard to continue delivering lessons and supporting their students. While coronavirus is still rife, restricted measures have been lifted, meaning schools have reopened, and pupils can return to a regular routine once more. However, the effects of the pandemic on teaching, both positive and negative, are likely to linger for a long time.
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