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Coronavirus: 5 lessons from a teacher-parent at home

by Sarah Mullin

As a teacher-parent, it's not easy juggling schooling your child and completing school duties at home, says Sarah Mullin

You’ve just completed your first week as the headteacher, classroom teacher, caretaker and lunchtime supervisor of Home School Academy. As a qualified professional, you might have dreamed of this very moment, when you could use your repertoire of skills to teach your own little treasures. 

The only problem is that you’ve also been working remotely: setting work for your students, writing reports and attending virtual meetings.

As teachers, we know how to work under pressure, meeting the needs of multiple students and juggling our multifarious roles and responsibilities. But teacher-parents are now encountering a whole new set of challenges.

Coronavirus: Parent-teachers working from home

Here are just a few of the wins, wonders and woes of juggling home working with home learning.

1. Your colour-coded Covid-19 timetable didn't go to plan

Daily chores, morning walks and academic time: you've created the ideal timetable for your dream routine as a teacher-parent. 

It was all going well until day two, when you realised that it’s just not possible to take an important call while also supervising your youngest making a tower out of toilet rolls. 

None of us has ever encountered a pandemic before. We are learning to be flexible in the face of adversity. So, if baking cakes puts a smile on your child’s face, it’s OK if the timetable doesn’t quite go to plan this afternoon.

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Photo by Alexa Williams on Unsplash

2. You set up an Insta-worthy home classroom that has hardly been used

You cleared a workspace and organised your child’s books neatly in the corner. Highlighters, pencils, pens and rulers were carefully positioned against some brightly coloured Post-It notes. You took a quick photo and shared it on social media, feeling proud of your parent-teacher study area. 

After five minutes, there’s a bowl of cornflakes resting on the maths homework and marker pen ink on the walls. 

School classrooms are designed to meet the needs of multiple learners. But some of the best learning experiences happen when children feel comfortable and content. So why not try dissecting the parts of a flower in the garden, or having fun with fractions using some fruit in the kitchen? 

And if you need to resort to CBBC so that you can manage an hour of work duties, that’s OK, too.

3. You thought celebrity exercise work-outs would be a great family bonding experience

It’s 9am and you’re lunging and stretching in front of a YouTube screen. What a way to get fit, while spending time with your nearest and dearest. And fitness means productivity. 

Pity it also means that you now can’t walk up the stairs without whimpering in pain. Who knew PE lessons could be that painful?

4. You miss your team of amazing colleagues

As a home-working parent-teacher, you’re making lunch while helping the eldest with their history project, supervising free play while checking your emails and tidying up Play-Doh while planning tomorrow’s lessons for your students

The best part about working in a school is being part of a tremendous team: from the caretaker who keeps us safe to the school nurse who keeps us healthy and happy. 

Where would we be without our teaching assistants, lunchtime supervisors, cooks, admin team and bursars? Doing all their jobs ourselves is where.

Thanks to technology, keeping in touch with your edu-buddies has never been easier. But you still look forward to the day when you can laugh with your colleagues in the staffroom once more. 

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Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

5. You’ll never get this time again

It may be chaos at times, but it is important to appreciate spending time with our loved ones in the comfort and safety of our own homes. 

We’re no longer sitting in queues of traffic on the daily commute, and exercise feels like a treat rather than a challenge. We’re preparing home-cooked meals for the family, and taking pleasure in spending time with one another.

Board games are coming out of storage, and books that sat on shelves for years are brightening up our evenings. Watching the news has taken priority over watching Netflix, and acts of kindness are abundant in communities across the country.

This period has taught us that our health truly is our wealth, and that the most important things in the world are family, friends, community and love.

Sarah Mullin is a deputy headteacher and doctor of education student. Her book, What They Didn’t Teach Me on My PGCE, is a bestseller on Amazon. This article has been reproduced from TES with Sarah Mullins' consent – thank you to Sarah and to the wonderful TES team.

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posted about 2 months ago
Sarah Mullin
Sarah Mullin is the Deputy Head of Priory School, a co-educational independent school for children aged 6 months to 18 years in Edgbaston, Birmingham. She is currently completing her Doctorate in Education with Newman University, and wrote 'What They Didnt Teach Me On My PGCE'.