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Pets on zoom and students "so lonely it hurts.": 12 teachers on the best and worsts of remote teaching.

As many parents around Australia juggle the demands of remote learning, behind the screens, teachers have had to adapt to a very different new normal.

While that has meant longer sleep-ins for some, and pyjamas from the waist down for others: it's also meant a constant sense of uncertainty that can make teaching 20+ students that little bit harder.

So we asked 12 teachers: What have been your best and worst moments from remote learning?

Watch: Horoscopes on a zoom call. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia.

From crying on zoom to themed Fridays, here's what they had to say.

Claire

Remote learning is tough! I think we’ve all become quite good at it though, especially in Victoria! Missing out on milestones is hard, like 100 days of Prep and now most likely 100 days of Grade 1 for the same cohort of kids. 

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It’s amazing to see the work that kids can produce even when they aren’t at school. It’s hard reading that people say kids have ‘missed out’ of school because they haven’t. We have provided such robust programs for all students. However, they have certainly missed out on social interaction.

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Some highlights for me have been seeing various pets via online platforms, sweet voice messages and doing fun dress up or theme days. Screen fatigue is the toughest!

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I’ve had to tell students to take that play dough out of your ear and put the scissors down don’t cut your hair! 

There’s been kids online in the car, walking around the house and raising their virtual hand just to say ‘can I please go to the toilet’. 

Little people not understanding that I can’t fix their iPad etc from where I am is also tricky!

Lisa

My husband and I are both teachers and attempting to teach from home whilst looking after our own kids and getting their learning done. 

Some days are great. But some days look like this:

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Heidi

On the best days, I’m able to engage my students by dressing up which cheers them up: and me too. Here is one of my dress ups where I made a cowboy hat from paper.

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My worst would be when I jump on another teacher’s Zoom to give learning support, and kids jump off the Zoom.

It hurts me, because they are missing out on help.

Kelsee

I’m a first year PDHPE teacher and it's my first time doing online learning!

The best thing has been watching the kids in double periods when they go off and do their own physical activity. 

The students submit evidence afterward, so I have been getting a flood of dog pictures which is always welcomed! 

Some kids even make a whole video about their physical activity & call it their ‘vlog'.

The worst part is missing out on those off-hand conversations with the students that develops rapport with them. It's so hard to have a normal chat over a call with 24 students who barely want to use their mic!

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Lauren

Losing work and pay was the worst part. As a government "employee" (I am a casual relief teacher at a government school) I didn't qualify for Jobkeeper.

But the best was teaching my own daughter in her first year of school. 

Don't get me wrong, it was mostly very stressful, especially with a three-year-old too, but I had a huge impact on her learning to read and she is excelling in numeracy (one of my teaching areas).

I should probably also put a disclaimer here... My sister is a teacher and was on speed dial, so I had a lot of extra support, resources and encouragement.

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Jessica

The worst part is increased admin when following up students not attending Zooms or completing work, and not having social contact.

There are a whole bunch of 'bests'! No travel time, no yard duty, lunch with my family, being able to hang washing through the day, and not wearing ‘work’ clothes.

Annie 

Remote learning is the roller coaster ride we just can’t seem to get off in Melbourne. 

I’ve gone from crying on screen to ending a lesson to having fits of laughter with the kids I teach. Zoom fatigue heightens all your emotions.

There have been so many hard things but I think what I’m struggling with at the moment are the snap lockdowns. 

We don’t know if we are coming or going. So the mental load (which is already full) is added to because we are planning for both scenarios.

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On the flip side, I loved being able to listen to my niece read each day while she was in Prep, and see her progress.

Bring your pet to Zoom has been wonderful, dress up days, cooking classes, science experiments. 

The best feeling though is always when you see your student have that ‘aha!’ moment. And if you catch that through a computer screen, it’s a beautiful day!

Clare

The best moment was when a year 12 student came to class on Google Meet in a suit last year. He had bought it for formal and decided to get value out of his investment any way he could.

The worst happened when a year 7 boy asked if he could just keep the Meet on while he had lunch because his single mum was working and he didn't have much company.

Amy

The best moment has been calling parents to check in on how things are going and having most of them be genuinely thankful and appreciative of the hard work going on in school behind the scenes. Many asked how I was and if I needed anything. 

It was very nice and definitely made my day. Families seem to be doing better this year with less expectation and more focus on wellbeing.

The worst moments are managing my mummy guilt. With three kids at home and husband working long hours also, we are struggling to provide our kids the support they need. The juggling act is constant and some days I just fall in a heap by the end.

Jordan

My best has been the gratitude and small moments with my classes. At the end of one of my lessons yesterday, I said goodbye to my class and one boy said back, “bye Miss, I hope you have a great rest of your day”. It was so small but my heart exploded.

We celebrated one of my Year 8 student’s birthdays yesterday. 

Everyone brought something sweet to eat, we had virtual candles and sung an out of tune and out of time “happy birthday”. The student told me that it had been his favourite lesson - photo included.

Practically, I’ve also enjoyed less travel time, no playground duty, constant access to my fridge and wearing leggings.

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The worst part is following up with parents regarding incomplete work/behaviour. 

Normally, I would manage this in class or during break time, however, this isn’t possible when learning remotely. I feel like I am constantly writing emails!

Linda 

The best part has been fun Friday themes, and the worst: emotional parents who are also working from home.

John

The best part of remote learning has been sharing photos at the start of lessons. There's lots of awe and encouragement between students. 

One of the students described this as the best thing that happened in all her classes.

The worst was hearing a Year 10 student saying she was so lonely it hurt. Fortunately, there were many comments of support to and for her.

Our dear teachers, let us support you during these hard times by helping keep your students safe online with the Safe on Social Schools Toolkit. It's the digital ‘survival kit’ arming teachers with everything they need to know to keep their students safe online.  Request more information now.

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