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What is the biggest issue you've found with Covid and teaching?

Hi everyone, sorry to bring up the ‘C’ word, but I was hoping some of you would share your experiences about what you’ve found most challenging about lockdown and teaching during a difficult time.

I’ve generally been very, very lucky with regards to Covid - when we went into lockdown the first time and exams were cancelled I lost a lot of students, but I was quickly able to fill up again!

My big concern is the frustration and uncertainty around the exams. My students expect me to know a lot, and while I try and keep a look out for all the latest news, I am not aware of everything, especially how their teachers will assess them. All I’m trying to do is encourage them to still study and work hard, and to have the mindset that the exams ARE going ahead.

Also slightly worried about my students’ mental health. Luckily, most of them are incredibly resilient and working very hard, but I still feel it’s my duty to check in and make sure they are all okay. Some are struggling with online schooling and finding it hard to motivate themselves, but overall I’m incredibly proud of them!

What are your lockdown stories? Feel free to share and get some support! :slight_smile:

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I had quite a similar experience last year, so many students dropped out before when I’d expect to be really busy.

Luckily things have been alright this year, teaching online, while it’s not ideal for learning and contact with the student, has made the balance a lot easier while my university studies have picked up, as I’m saving time and money on commuting.

I can definitely relate to having so much uncertainty, especially since each school seems to be doing quite individual assessments. It’s been difficult to know what parts of the syllabus we should cover, as a lot of material is being skipped over.

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Hi Katy!

I can certainly relate to this! Since I mostly tutor GCSE and A-level students, there’s a lot that is up in the air! Thankfully, my students are very understanding of this and we’re all a bit confused together. I try to be as flexible as possible with my lessons, working with the mindset that my students will have to take some kind of exams, whether it’s class assessments or a full mock. I always have something planned but ask my students at the beginning of the lesson if there’s anything specific that they would like to look at, whether it’s a revision topic or a homework task that they have been set. It’s not ideal but I’ve found that we’re able to make the best of a less-than-great situation.

Another problem for me is textbooks. Before Covid, when I used to teach face-to-face at students’ houses, they would sometimes point to specific parts of their textbook that they were struggling with, or we would work through practice questions. Since textbooks are expensive, I cannot afford to buy my own copies, especially since different exam boards have different textbooks and, as a History teacher, there are so many options! Before, I would just have to look at the textbook that my student had been given and we could work with that. Now I spend a lot more time creating my own resources and writing questions. Of course, that has its merits and I’m building up a decent bank of resources but it can take up a lot of time, which can be difficult as I suffer from a chronic illness. Related to this, it’s also more difficult to “spread materials out” in a way that I would in a face-to-face lesson, rather than having to constantly scroll up and down or switch tabs online.

If anyone has any tips, I’d be incredibly grateful! I’m also happy to answer any questions about teaching online :smile:

All the best,
Eleanor

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I have 2 major issues.
The first is that some of my students who have specific learning needs are finding communicating through a screen difficult. Some of them can’t understand that I can’t see what they are writing and struggle to read my facial expression of see my lips move. If they have a speech or communication difficulty this can become a big problem. I am having to build a power point reading scheme for ASD and dyslexic students as much of the stuff available online is over stimulating and confusing to look at.
The second difficulty is most students are tired of looking at a screen when I see them because they’ve done it all day. I’ve started putting in a lot more movement and spoken activities. This has taken a lot of thinking about for older students. They like finding three random things on whatever obscure theme I set and then having to write them into something coherent. At the moment it’s anything so that they don’t have to sit in front of a screen for another whole hour.

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I’ve been an online tutor since 2017 so the practical side of tutoring has not changed for me too much …

BUT, the cancellation of exams last year did cause me to lose a lot of students very suddenly. Thankfully, I managed to recruit well over the summer (which is normally very quiet for me).

As @katywilson6 said, my main concern is the lack of clarity around assessment. Students and their families are stressed, confused and frustrated - quite understandably. And, as @katywilson6 said, I usually don’t know any more than they do, so all I can do is encourage them to work ‘as if they had exams’.

Like @katywilson6 said, I worry about students’ mental health through all this too.

I keep saying to them that they all have my upmost admiration - I can’t imagine trying to study for my qualifications during this pandemic and I’m so proud of every single one of them. :star2:

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I have had quite the opposite experience to some in the fact that, when this lockdown was announced, I had a SURGE in students which was lovely to see!

I am tutoring younger ones so I find sometimes online with them can be challenging for the handwriting aspect and also certain topics are more interactive when they are younger and are more about exploring than writing working out.

I think the children not being in control of the game itself can be a challenge as well and I do work with one lovely autistic girl and she can get bored of games very easily and struggles to understand that I can’t always see what she is pointing to etc. on the screen which can sometimes cause some distress.

I also find that I’ve struggled with a reward system as some children would really thrive off this but I haven’t been able to think of anything that would work online as I only have ideas for face-to-face/in the classroom.

Finally, I’ve found that some parents are reducing the homework or are looking for earlier time slots as they have had lots of work from school and are exhausted. I do discuss with the parents what they feel is appropriate and I discuss with the child (if old enough) that due to the situation, I am being more flexible with certain tasks and will not send a lot but do expect them to complete even 1/2 questions for practice.

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Like several others, my bookings took a hit when exams were cancelled. As I was just starting out this was of course fairly demotivating, however it picked up again eventually and I now have more students than I ever expected. It was a bit of a rollercoaster as online bookings picked up massively when the lockdown was announced, only for it to drop off when exams were then cancelled.

Some students don’t like video calls, so there are some in-person sessions that are currently on hold. That’s a bit of a problem as I do feel guilty about not being able to help right now, but I’m not sure if there’s much alternative besides offering support.

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I miss so much when I could go to a café and directly teach my students face-to-face. Unfortunately, because of the same reason, I have had almost no students at all recently. We are all facing difficulties during these crazy times but let’s all stay positive and keep our chin up! :slight_smile:

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The biggest issue is a financial impact as for personal health reasons and also the overriding problem of Covid. I lost about 60% of my students. Despite this, I am in the fortunate position of working in a school so I was still required to prepare lessons to be taught virtually. As I am travelling less and at home more, my outgoings is of course less. The positive part of having lost my students, is that I feel I have a better quality of life as on reflection I began to take on too many students as well as work at a school.

From a teaching perspective, sometimes the 1-2-1 contact is needed and I had to think creatively in terms of how to teach sight reading or accompaniment. This has happened to a greater or lesser extent.

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I was very lucky in that although most of my students in the first lockdown were GCSE they asked to stay on “to keep occupied” which meant I diversified from a maths and English tutor to CV support, business studies and much more.
This time around I’ve found that my students love the stability of a face to face (virtual) teacher since many don’t get one on one time with school…I’ve also found if I open up my availability nearly all queries are primary…which is great fun and a nice change :grin:

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Hi Katy

I have a ‘funny’ to share.

Last March I was going house to house to vulnerable students in the community, I pulled up to have lunch in the car between appointments and a very nice policeman pulled up besides me. I had inadvertently parked by a notorious fly tip point and he thought I was tipping illegally.

I have worked in the community throughout the whole of this and am currently working with a student in Oxford hospital school who has mental illness.

It’s very rewarding but I will feel safer when I can get my vaccine!

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