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School teacher hails ‘amazing’ pupils and parents over new remote learning

PUBLISHED: 11:58 25 March 2020 | UPDATED: 11:58 25 March 2020

Megan Barnes, a teacher at Woodlands Primary Academy, in Bradwell, has shared her experience of teaching from home in the new coronavirus climate Picture: Megan Barnes

Megan Barnes, a teacher at Woodlands Primary Academy, in Bradwell, has shared her experience of teaching from home in the new coronavirus climate Picture: Megan Barnes

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A week ago primary school teacher Megan Barnes was stood in front of a beaming class of Year 6 pupils trying to keep a lid on classroom chatter, responding to hands up, and enjoying the buzz of school life.

Now, with barely any warning, she has swapped the classroom for her living room.

Starting the day means firing up a laptop and seeing who’s there - and surprisingly virtually all 29 are.

Shutting schools and cancelling exams has been one of the biggest and most disruptive changes under the coronvavirus lockdown.

But the 22-year-old has been surprised by how well it is working - even providing benefits that will prepare them for the jump to high school.

Just months into her first teaching job Miss Barnes, a UEA graduate, is having to transition to full-time remote teaching, meaning contact with her Year 6 class at Woodlands Primary Academy in Bradwell, near Great Yarmouth, has been cut to a keyboard.

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She said: “Normally I am with them all day every day, although as a newly qualified teacher I have one day a week not in the classroom.

“Everything is very hands on. I am always at the front of the class explaining things verbally or in a practical way.

“I am still setting similar work but it is being able to explain it properly that I miss.

“I am constantly going round the classroom asking them if they are finding the work too difficult or too easy.

“And it’s not just me and the children, it’s the children and their peers too.

“It’s very collaborative.

“Now, overall, I have had a really positive experience.

“The only frustrating part is not being able to explain things as easily as if I was there in front of them.

“It’s really difficult because you build such a good relationship with them, you know them, and what’s best for them.

“But it’s great that I can still communicate with them.

“The parents have been amazing and without their support it would have been ten times more difficult.

“This is a new system for everyone.

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“At the moment we are doing it so they have maths, English, and topic work set daily.

“We are uploading sheets and quizzes and throughout the day I will have my laptop open with my class and they can message me if they need help.

“That’s how it has been running so far.

“For PE the teacher has been setting tasks and doing online videos and the same with music.

“I have such a great class and the majority of them have handed me work every day.

“I can see which children have logged in, I can mark work, I can give them feedback.

“Overall it has worked really well.

“The work is set so they have it available from 9am, but it is up to them when they decide to do it.

“Most get it done, but some hand it in slightly later.

“I have told parents I will reply to messages during normal school hours and stop marking at around 5.30pm.

“I am quite lucky because I work with such a great team in Year 6. There are three Year 6 teachers, we have all taken a subject each and mark our own class.

“The biggest difficulty is the communication.

“I miss seeing them at school and being able to discuss their work, but I am so passionate and want them still to gain something from this and progress.

“As a teacher you main task is to explain things, but you cannot do that as effectively.”

On the plus side Miss Barnes said the children were learning new IT skills and independent working that would help them as they moved up to high school.

Woodlands had also produced an activity grid including tasks like baking, they might not normally have time for at home.

“It’s definitely a good experience,” she added.

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