Diary of an NQT: Coping with lockdown

Written by: Diary of an NQT | Published:
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The coronavirus lockdown has changed our NQT diarist’s whole way of working. He reflects on how his school is supporting home education

First, I wanted to start by saying that I hope all of the readers are well during these unprecedented times. Life as an NQT this past month or so has been strange to say the least.

As a department and as a school we have been working really hard to maintain regular communication with our colleagues, our pupils and their parents.

In the final week or so of schools being fully open before the government coronavirus lockdown, our department ensured that we all knew exactly what we had to do while working from home and setting work for our pupils.

To ensure that all of the pupils were being set the same amount of work and therefore given equal opportunities, our department assigned specific year groups to each of us. I have taken responsibility for setting work for all year 10 and year 11 trilogy physics. Operating this way has been very beneficial for both the teachers and the pupils as everybody knows who is responsible for which groups and who they need to liaise with.

At the moment, our school uses a system called ShowMyHomework to set work for the pupils. This system works really well as it is easy to use. Pupils are also able to leave comments for the teacher if they need any assistance with the work.

On top of this, my colleague and I have designed a website using Google sites. Here, pupils can complete their set tasks each week. The website is easy to manage and is easily accessible to all of our year 10 and 11 physics pupils. We have kept the layout of the work set very similar week-in, week-out and this has given the pupils with a familiar routine that is easy for them to manage.

We try to set the pupils a broad range of things to do and we keep as many of the tasks as interesting as possible to prevent the pupils from getting bored and losing interest during their time in lockdown.

The activities range from online quizzes to watching videos and documentaries and operating various animations. The quizzes pupil complete are automatically submitted online, so we are able to see which pupils have engaged with the work and how well they have done. If there are any common mistakes, then we know to correct those misconceptions in the following week’s work.

This has worked really well so far. Pupils are also encouraged to email over pictures of the revision tasks they have completed. The best of these can then be placed in the gallery on the website to be used as revision resources in the future. This helps the pupils to feel a sense of pride and recognition if they submit a good piece of work.

Liaising with parents has also been a regular occurrence during the last month, with communication being done via email. If anything, I feel like my communication with parents has increased during this lockdown period, although that is mainly due to parents initiating the communication much more often as they seek help with the work we have set.

I am also utilising my time at home by helping to design more engaging schemes of work for our science department. This will be of benefit to my colleagues (and myself) when things hopefully return to normality.

One difficulty I am facing is the ability to make sure all of the pupils are engaging with the work I set for them. This is much more difficult to manage than when I am in a classroom. At the moment, I am monitoring pupil engagement by checking to see who has submitted answers to the quizzes as well as through communication with both pupils and parents.

Another challenge that I have faced is that I do not personally teach all of the pupils for whom I am setting work, so understanding the educational needs of all of the pupils becomes more of a challenge. To tackle this, I have ensured that the work set is targeted to pupils of all abilities, with stretch and challenge tasks available for more able pupils.

For the time being all us NQTs can do is continue to work hard, teaching our pupils in the best way we can by providing them with the resources they need and ensuring that their educational needs are met to the best of our abilities in these difficult times.

  • Our NQT diarist is a science teacher at a comprehensive school in the West of England.


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