Guest Blog: Sumaiyah Shaikh NQT

Teaching through a pandemic as an NQT.

As the whole country battles through the pandemic, we have all realised how vulnerable our elders are. Although it is imperative that we keep them in mind, we still need to remind ourselves that our future will be determined by our children. Overlooking them could ruin a whole generation. We are always hearing stories of how hard parents are finding it to cope with children at home whilst working. However, we also need to be thinking about the children. Children normally ask difficult questions about our society and find some ‘normal’ practices hard to fathom. Imagine how hard it is to explain these most bizarre circumstances. How will we explain, guide, and inspire them to create a better future?

That’s one of many questions which I ponder on every night before eventually being woken up by my alarm. I don’t even remember sleeping! Every morning, whilst brewing my coffee, I think, will any child be away today? Will I get an email saying a person in my bubble has tested positive? Then I set up my computer, check if the camera is working, look through emails, make sure everyone has the correct zoom link. Just as everything is in place, the first child comes dancing through the door, ‘Hello Miss!’

As soon as that happens my day suddenly speeds up, no more time to ponder. The constant battles with technology, guiding children how to access work and then uploading it, telling them to mute/unmute.  All whilst also trying to provide the best for the children in school. Teaching over zoom is challenging enough, having to do that with children present in class has pushed me to boundaries I never knew existed.

It has been difficult. Some days I have had a wobble and felt like I’ve failed. However, I believe this has made me grow stronger. Every day is another chance to try again. I just pick myself up and think of the positive impact I am having on them. If I am down, who will cheer up the sad child who hasn’t been able to talk to her/his parents as they have been too busy trying to bring food to the table?

I have embraced the challenges and it has definitely been a valuable experience. It has taught me to adapt swiftly when technology fails and the computer decides to crash mid lesson. It has allowed me to ponder on what learning from home may be like in a pandemic from the children’s perspective. Like suddenly losing the normal school routine and the difficulty of not seeing teachers and peers. This has enabled me to use different ways of engaging the children at home/in school and keep the connection.

The positives- that blurry picture that gets sent from an enthusiastic child who is bubbling with excitement to show me, the sound of ‘Good morning Miss’ every day from the children who seem so far away. Teaching through the pandemic has been more than exhausting but the children and support from school has kept me going.

So I keep smiling and I embrace the challenge.

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