A Day in the life of a Tutor……
New Year 2020 BCE (and here I don’t mean Before Common Era; I mean Before Covid Existed!), life was NORMAL.
Full of enthusiasm for the final push towards GCSE revision for our Year 11 students and the usual creative interpretation of the curriculum for all other students, I divided my day between the Calne and RWB branches of Launch2learning. Never suspecting that the routine interaction with students and fellow tutors, setting and marking of work, a quick dash to Sainsbury’s at lunch for a bite to eat, and the habitual moaning about the coffee cups left in the sink, was all about to end with LOCKDOWN.
On March 23rd 2020, Boris Johnson closed down life as we knew it and things changed overnight…..
Luckily our very forward-thinking team behind the scenes had made excellent provision for this event. We were all issued with a Zoom password and access to a previously unknown teaching tool. I confess that I.T. is NOT my strength, so I approached the idea of teaching via the internet with trepidation. The students adapted much more easily, quickly finding ways to add emojis and annotations to the screen and realising that a ‘dodgy’ internet could bring a lesson to an abrupt halt!
Of course, I miss the face to face contact with the students: days of staring at a black screen hoping for a rustle of paper or a sigh to let me know that I’m not just sat in my office talking to myself or wondering if I have half the household listening to my every word is not an ideal teaching environment, but I’ve been glad to be part of a small element of continuity in their lives.
Lockdown has meant that my planning has to be even more organised than it was before. Our wonderful admin team acts as the go-between, forwarding poems, extracts and whole exam papers for the students to print out beforehand. (This DOES make analysing a text so much easier.)
I’ve discovered imaginative ways of teaching without being able to read body language – who knew how much I relied on that? And of course, there have been hilarious Zoom moments when a family pet has decided to join the lesson by standing right in front of camera displaying certain body parts! I’ve also got to meet other members of the family who just want to see a different face and several new puppies, which normally I would never see.
My bonus time (without having to travel 90 mins to work and back) has enabled me to research different exam boards and texts, which I’ve really enjoyed. It’s been good to share experiences too with students, their families and other tutors, as we’re all in this together.
When ‘normal’ life ‘rezooms’, will I continue to wave to students and tutors as I leave a lesson? I think I probably will…….
Tutor at Launch2Learning
October has landed.
When I was at school this meant that we had to spend hours learning “Autumn” by Keats to avoid the profound annoyance of Mr Kelly who insisted our heads be steeped in “yellow fruitfulness” and “mists” and all things Autumn.
Now my children’s heads are steeped in Halloween costume plans and mock GCSE’s depending on which end of the family age range you talk to about it.
School has other Autumn challenges. We no longer feel the need to insist 30 children learn and recite Keats, however, with a brand new national curriculum to keep us on our toes, teachers have certainly had to navigate through a few mists. Children huddle in damp corners at break-time chattering about whether they will be a witch or a ghost. Teachers huddle in staff rooms clutching coffee mugs and sighing as they watch the last 5 years planning being hurled into the caretakers skip!
I bet somewhere, in a dusty corner of a school, Mr Kelly is pouring through national curriculum documents and telling some awe struck newly qualified teacher that he has seen it all before.
It’s September. The whole nation breathes a collective sigh of relief!!
As parents, we have survived the horrors of a crowded shoe shop; where every member of staff is being hounded by at least 5 customers, all desperate to achieve the goal of pay and escape. When we have footed the bill (no pun intended) it is common to find that those great priced trousers at Tesco’s are too wide/narrow/long/short for your inconveniently non average child and wide eyed with panic you have to search for a different fit that costs you triple the price of the supermarket version and half a tank of petrol doing the ‘other shop’ tour.
Teachers have spent the entire holiday trying to learn the art of not having a timetable to work to. Several different methods are employed in this feat. Some operate the system of manic list writing so that every activity, from making breakfast to doing the ironing, is in an easy to follow format. Others go ‘cold turkey’ and plan nothing, a method known to have the side effect of spending the whole day making up problems, worrying about the most stupid things that normally wouldn’t matter,(sometimes because of having the time to read The Guardian) and feeling like you have achieved nothing all day.
Others take on `a project’ – if a house on your street has had its roof removed in late July – you can guarantee a teacher lives there.
September - Someone hands you a timetable and rings a bell. Beautifully ironed children with polished shoes sit in front of you.
And the roof is back on your house!!!!
Marie Wykes is a mother of 4 and director of Launch2Learning tuition centre on William Street, Calne. She has been a teacher for 25 years.
For more insights into the wonderful world of teaching please visit The Blog at launch2learning.co.uk
The secret life of the holidaying teacher
“Oh…..You lot get 6 weeks off a year” is the cry of Facebook comments as you drag yourself, battered, bruised, torn, report writing band bandaged and eyes blinded by the last minute data and statistics.
But you cry, weeping into the medication bottle that has got you through the last few weeks…..It has eaten my SOUL!!!!!
You can always tell teachers on summer holidays because they holiday in exactly the same way they teach. Some are planned, enthusiastic in an over-grown teacher type of way, timetabling every possible thing in to a crammed day of rock climbing, white water rafting and scuba diving.
The last minute markers
Others cram traveling the world in to 6 weeks – missing buses, trains, rickshaws and hostel closing times.
Then you have the research specialist….. tucked on the beach looking bewildered by it all, still wearing his corduroy trousers, (rolled up to the knee) and catching up on all the reading he hasn’t had a chance to do this year.
I would go so far as to suggest that you can categorise teaching styles through one simple question……………
“Where are you going on holiday Miss?”
“Well we are open most of the holidays so my holiday will be in William Street, Calne. I will visit the chip shop, get my hair done, watch the dog walkers and take bets on who has the reddest sun tan.
I will post postcards and my every move on Facebook to my dedicated audience…………..Bring It On!!!!
For more insights into the wonderful world of teaching please visit launch2learning.co.uk
Sandals with socks
I will visit the chip shop, get my hair done, smile and wave to everyone who passes and compare my lilly white tan to all the beautifully tanned people walking past.