Guest Blog: Phoebe Ayling NQT

Anyone who has worked with me in the past term and a half will know I am my biggest critic. Teaching in a pandemic has been so much more difficult than I anticipated but the thing I have found most challenging is dealing with the voice of my own criticisms, the constant imposter syndrome and the feeling I am not doing as well as I should be, not in terms of my own personal success but the success of the children in my class. I constantly tell myself I am not doing enough to ensure these children make progress, blaming myself for the learning they are missing, when in fact I am doing the best I can. Home learning means I have little control over how well children are engaging at home and the progress they are making – I have had numerous pieces of work handed in which are either done by an adult or an undiscovered child genius! Despite this feeling of helplessness and failure, it is comforting to know that I am not the only one struggling, NQTs and veteran teachers alike are in the same boat, trialling lessons they have never done before using technology we would never use in a ‘normal’ year, all whilst battling anxieties around their own health and well-being.

Working in the Early Years during a pandemic is not easy. We are asking children as young as three to sit and stay focus on a computer screen for up to an hour, then completing tasks at home with either not enough help or too much! However, I am grateful to be able to have a small chunk of my class in school with me and be able to see the rest through a computer screen twice a day. With the children being so young, they have little understanding of the pandemic and that is one of the best things about being in Nursery and Reception. Every day I get the opportunity to see the world through their eyes and the experience if full of positivity, love and laughter. As cliché as it sounds, when the children come to school (or come on Zoom) their beaming smiles and brilliant personalities let you forget how scary and uncertain the outside world is. It’s easy to forget the impact the pandemic is having on the children themselves but when I am reminded, I could not be prouder of the amazing progress each child has made during these difficult times, and to be a facilitator of the progress is the best feeling. I am absolutely my biggest enemy, but at moments I see glimmers of the incredible progress these children have made and to know I have played a part in that washes away the self-critique and the voices of my inner saboteur. Although I am anxious about what the future brings, I am reminded of the good I am doing now. My children are happy in school and are making great progress, and those at home have shown incredible resilience and positivity in a time of uncertainty and change.

“I am doing my best and that is enough.”

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