I thought people might appreciate a bit of an insight into how things are for teachers during lockdown. Please note this is just my personal experience, and is not a whinge or a plea for sympathy. I am fine, but it's hard, and all kinds of things are out of our control.
My load this year is 3 days English, 2 days library. At the start of lockdown, I had just one class (Year 8) that I didn't share at least one period with other teachers. My HT and I share a Year 9 and a Year 10 class, and I had one or two periods of other people's Year 8 classes.
Once lockdown started, this is how responsibility for posting work went: obviously, I'm 100% responsible for my own Year 8 class, and I took on the main responsibility for another Year 8 class where the split was 4/3 and the other teacher has young kids at home.
The other two year 8 classes are managed by their main teacher with me available during my timetabled periods with them to answer questions, or set up a zoom and give them a break with some Kahoot! activities. I have some great language Kahoots! they really enjoy, will make more.
(Kahoot!, for the uninitiated, is an online quiz platform where kids compete to be the fastest and most accurate in answering questions. I generally do a couple of English-focused quizzes and then let them choose a fun topic: food, Marvel Universe, Disney etc.)
Kahoots are awesome because a.) they are fun and b.) the kids actually UNMUTE and tak to each other and me. Trying to run a traditional English lesson via zoom is really hard, our kids, normally chatty as all get-out, won't talk on them! So different strategies are needed.
Anyway, I digress. As you can see, I already was juggling keeping on top of a lot of classes and knowing where they were all up to in the unit of work. (We all teach the same unit to the whole year cohort, but classes work at different paces, so you have to stay on your toes.)
Then unexpectedly, one of my colleagues had to take leave, and we don't know how long that will be for. (Non-COVID related, fortunately.) This colleague works 4 days a week, and their classes, obviously, need to be covered.
The most straightforward solution was to take me off library those two days and put me on half of my colleague's load. Now, I can hear my fellow TL colleagues shrieking from here! This decision was absolutely not because the exec don't value the library, and you know me...
I will continue to do some of my library-related work anyway because that's who I am. (I am not the substantive librarian; I job-share with her because she is part-time with a young child.) But options are limited during lockdown.
No point bringing in a casual who doesn't know the units of work, or the kids, who are stressed enough as it is. A familiar teacher sliding across to look after them is so much better than a stranger. The other two days of my colleague's load is being picked up...
by one of our faculty who has been on maternity leave, but back two days working as a learning support teacher. So she's now two days learning support, two days English. The upshot of all of this is that this is now what my allocation looks like.
1 Year 7 class, 4 Year 8 classes, 3 Year 9 and 3 Year 10.

This table here is me trying to keep track of it all. I've blacked out my colleague's names for privacy.

That's 11 google classrooms I am in, not counting the creative writing and reading enrichment classroom I run.
In addition, I am one period ahead of Year 8 on writing lessons suitable for online delivery for our First Nations Poets unit of work. The other years are all doing a film study, so that's easier to chunk for online delivery (Thank god for @ClickViewAU Interactives!)
but still a lot of work for the teachers taking the lead for those years. (Oh, and by the way, we only have a very small Year 11 cohort as we transition from being a 7-10 school to becoming a full 7-12 comprehensive from next year. A blessing of sorts! No HSC to worry about.)
I absolutely know how tough parents are doing at home with kids remote learning. I also know some parents are making it worse (some of our wellbeing entries would make your toes curl!). Some kids are coping beautifully, some stressed beyond what's reasonable, some others...
have just checked out altogether. We completely prioritise their wellbeing over everything, but we also have a duty to try and keep them on track with their learning, and my protestant work doesn't help (thanks Mum and Dad and that long line of Methodists...!)
So as I said, I am not complaining, just sharing what might just be going on behind the scenes at your kids' school that you will have absolutely have no clue about. So if your child's teacher hasn't responded as quickly as you would like, please cut them some slack.
They may well be also supervising their own kids' learning, coping with illness or other personal issues, or dropping everything to support a colleague in a time of extreme need. Because by doing the latter, we're actually supporting the kids, and that, at the end of the day,
is what it's all about.

So my weekend now will be setting up work for a whole bunch of extra classes, which means going in and out of multiple google classrooms, checking where they are up to in the unit of work, posting assignments, setting up zoom sessions...
but it's not like I've got anywhere to go anyway, so 🙃. The jigsaw and the garden will still be there next weekend. And so will the kids be, online on Monday. And by the looks of things, for many, many Mondays and Tuesdays and Wednesdays and Thursdays and Fridays to come.
466 new cases. Hang in there, friends. And if you have the opportunity, say something nice to a teacher. Especially your kids' teacher/s. Thanks.
#lockdownteaching #remotelearning #COVID19nsw #SydneyLockdown

So I spent $80 on a daily planner diary at the start of the year and never used it. Today I thought, right, I’ve got 11 classes on my timetable. Gonna have to go old-school and keep track on paper.


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More from @msmisrule

16 Mar 20
All day I have been listening to experts talk about the pros and cons of closing schools. Not a SINGLE ONE has mentioned the health and well-being of the teachers and admin and other adult staff who keep schools open every day.
They talk about how children are not at risk, but neglect to consider the risk to the adults who work in schools who may be pregnant, immune-compromised, diabetic, asthmatic, with any number of health issues that allow them to work, but make them vulnerable to COVID-19.
I mean, I’ve known since I was an undergraduate how badly people disrespect teachers, but I didn’t realise until this week that we were considered so utterly dispensable.
Read 10 tweets
19 Feb 20
Following this thread from earlier in the term, I'm continuing to do book talks to promote wide reading with English classes from various grades. (3 in one day on Monday! Phew!) Talking one-on-one to the kids about their reading habits (or lack thereof) is proving very revealing.
I'm really explicit with the kids about why reading for pleasure is important, but also with the Year 10s I really hammer home that if they do not start right now building up their focus and attention soan, their reading muscles, then they are going to be at a huge disadvantage.
Of course, the non-readers already are, and they have a real battle ahead to make new habits and lost ground.

Anyway, here's what the non-readers seem to be consistently suggesting to me: they have this idea that to read a book, you have to READ THE BOOK:
Read 21 tweets
31 Dec 19
I am spending the last few hours of the decade/year/whatever it is watching Springsteen on Broadway and listening to my Twitter notifications go off. My mum is home from hospital; a friend has lost her house. I am depressed and worried but I go forth into 2020...
with a determination to be the best teacher, daughter, sister, friend, feminist and advocate I can be. Also mother of cats, carer of a dying garden and reader and writer. Let us come together and work for better times. Let’s follow Bruce’s advice and take care of our own.
And let’s burn down fascism and evangelical fervour for end days (and let’s also,incidentally, teach people to recognise hyperbole and rhetoric) and let’s do our best to love, but not unconditionally. Read more. Listen more.
Read 7 tweets
1 Sep 19
I'm still working on the section of my thesis dedicated to Nan Chauncy's 1960 time slip novel, Tangara, and have am writing about a scene in which she explicitly marks Whiteness as dangerous to Aboriginal people.
Chauncy describes the white faces of two convicts looking down on a group of Aboriginal people in a gully. Chauncy explicitly contrasts their white faces with the "terrified brown faces" of the Aboriginal people who the convicts will shortly slaughter for food.
Now, the choice of the perpetrators of massacre being escaped convicts as opposed to the nice white family who live on the stolen Aboriginal land where its people are about to be murdered is not incidental, & yet it's striking how Chauncy explicitly describes their skin colour...
Read 9 tweets
27 Aug 19
Just had a student, who finds reading a challenge, return 90 Packets of Instant Noodles by @DebFitzpatrick2, telling me he was able to focus on it & read the whole book, and how much he loved it. Now I have to find another one just like it!
I taught this boy a couple of years ago, and the fact that he has read and loved an entire novel by himself, without "having to" for class, is a huge achievement. I'm keenly nervous to find a great book for him to follow up. I'm thinking maybe one by Nick Earls. @nickearls
He liked the realism of 90 Packets, and how the boy had to fend for himself against difficult challenges. "He was a really good character, Miss," he said. This is why we do what we do. #ilovemyjob #studentsneedschoollibraries #LoveOzYA #teachinglife #publiceducation
Read 8 tweets
17 Jul 19
Well, this is exciting. I am going to be presenting a paper as part of the academic stream of the Historical Novel Society of Australasia Conference. My paper will be on my research to date on the Australian children’s time slip fantasy. #ahnsa #phdchat
The conference theme is History Repeats, which is perfect for the aspect of my thesis that looks at how Australian time slip set outside of cities is primarily interested in how time on Country is iterative rather than chronological.
Many of these books are either overtly or more implicitly interested in how Settler Colonial Australians can forge a relationship with Country. Some of them explicitly address the cost to Aboriginal people of our lives on their Country. Some of them are apologists for that cost.
Read 13 tweets

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