It is not often we have a chance to down tools and take stock of where we are, what we are doing and who we have become. Nor is there usually time to explore new avenues in our professional lives, honing a different skill set that will take us into the future.
But, according to teachers and staff at King’s College, this is exactly what the Covid-19 lockdown has meant to them: a challenge professionally, leading them to adopt exciting new techniques, solidarity with colleagues, family and friends and time to smell the roses and reflect on priorities which can become muddled when we are embroiled in our high-octane lives.
As the school year ends during one of the most extraordinary periods in living memory, members of King’s community describe how their lives changed when the world shut down, presenting a vertiginous learning curve for teachers and students alike.
King’s College Madrid
I think it’s fair to say that the majority of parents have seen this as a gift since they have been able to spend time with their children and be a part of their education, even though for many of them, working at the same time has been quite stressful.
Personally, with older children at home, we have laughed so much and got angry too; exercised together, cooked and cleaned together. My dog has never been happier.
I have learnt ICT skills that I thought I would never need – or manage to learn. I have been able to change my teaching style at the drop of a hat, teaching both children and their parents.
I feel I have got to know my children and their parents so well these past few months, having been a part of their homes. It has been a time of mixed emotions, sad, exciting, happy, funny and frustrating. It’s tough when you can’t give someone a hug or a ‘real’ high five. But the truth is, seeing those little faces every morning has got me through this lockdown.
Art and Subject Coordination
King’s College Madrid
Professionally, I feel that we, as teachers, have been back in the classroom with our students, learning altogether. In a way it has brought me closer to my students as they learn to work from home and continue their Art studies and I learn to use all the IT that they are so familiar with – a huge learning curve for all.
Personally, I have seen it as an opportunity to fulfil some short term plans to get healthier and fitter, as sitting at the laptop all day had to have a balance. It has also made me refocus on my priorities and helped with making some life choices and decisions.
King’s College Murcia
Professionally, I have had to rethink how I teach Music and be creative and open to new ways of doing things. The crisis has encouraged me to learn new technical skills, which I will continue to use even after the virtual learning is no longer necessary and I think, in the long run, it has definitely enhanced what I will now do in the classroom, moving forward.
Another thing that has developed over the course of our time at home is the amount of communication within our wider teaching community. I have been in close contact with the other King’s Music teachers, which has been a fantastic support. There has also been a rapidly growing global support network of teachers, sharing good ideas and resources online.
On a more personal note, I have really enjoyed the slower pace of life and the chance to blend my work and home life together. Taking stock and being appreciative of the world around us can sometimes fall by the wayside in our very busy lives, and being forced to literally stay in one place has made my time more productive and my mind more peaceful.
Assistant Head – Lower School
King’s College Alicante
Professionally, the focus for me has been ensuring our children continue to learn in a safe environment with high quality teaching and fun and exciting lessons that motivate and inspire them.
Looking back over the past few months, I am amazed at how incredibly creative our teachers are and how much enthusiasm they have injected into virtual teaching every day. I can’t believe we have had a virtual Sports days, ocean themed Art, Geography and Science days, virtual art galleries, talent shows, graduations, excursions to zoos and farms while at the same time so many children have been excelling in reading, writing and maths, and children as young as three have become IT literate!
It has also been great to build very close working relationships with our parents, whose support throughout has been invaluable.
Personally, I have spent over four months apart from my family. What was the most frightening time in modern life became a time for me to really appreciate my family and close friends; speaking to them more regularly via Zoom or Meet and sharing ideas with my husband in the UK and daughter, an ex King’s student and now the Director of Studies at a European school in Kyrgyzstan; learning to make and edit iMovies for assemblies; trying to keep fit by dancing virtually with my daughter on Body Groove! Enjoying my house and the simple things in life and not taking anything for granted.
King’s College Madrid
Professionally, this time has been focused on the preparation and opening of the baby unit, ensuring we have a safe, welcoming and stimulating environment for the children to grow and develop.
Personally, the crisis has allowed me to spend valuable time with my family and watch my youngest son start to walk and begin to communicate. It also gave me great pleasure to see how well my oldest son coped with the unexpected change. He was responsible and committed himself 100% to studying hard online. It really does makes you appreciate the little things in life and be thankful for good health.
Deputy Head of Secondary
King’s College School, La Moraleja
Professionally, I think having to change my focus to ensure the smooth running of the Secondary School online has been very positive. I’m proud of the way students and staff at La Moraleja have adapted to online learning, so much so that it is now almost second nature, although I am really looking forward to being back in school!
Personally, as my field is Computer Science, I have enjoyed using the technology to communicate and teach in different ways, a well as being creative with different topics online.
King’s College Alicante
Professionally, my ICT skills and use of Google has improved drastically to facilitate the best learning experience for pupils. This has been a move away from simple essay writing or question-and-answer tasks. I have tried to embed more creativity into the learning, combining a practical approach with theory to back it up and adding an element of luck with ‘Wheel of Fortune’ style fitness tasks and whole class tracking sheets to compare information, which has been motivational.
Personally, I have had to think about the pupils and my own wellbeing and the amount of screen time we have been exposed to.
One of the tasks completed recently has been a running competition – 1km, 3km and 5km –against The British School of Gran Canarias and Bahrain. This encouraged pupils to get outside during the day and complete some physical activity and the time away from the screens was extremely beneficial. Overall, KCA won, with the highest number of pupils participating and the greatest distance covered. Many of our pupils also recorded the fastest times.
Working from home has enabled me to focus on what is important in teaching and I have been surprised by certain students and their ability to grasp tasks – I have seen that some of the quieter pupils have emerged as some of the best online students.
I have also found a new appreciation of the relationship I have with students. The support we provide each other has been difficult to maintain but I know that come September, there will be a strong bond and a sense that we got through Covid-19 together.
Every school year we learn something new. When we get to the end of it, we look back, add everything up on both a professional and personal level and then look forward with enthusiasm.
Focusing on the well-being of the students and their families, I have had the chance to come up with the most useful and appropriate interventions for each case, trying to make sure that, as always, emotional support is just one step away.
The closeness between people in difficult situations is one of the most important sources of relief. The coordination between the KCA staff has undoubtedly made it possible to detect and address needs and so be able to design the best possible course of action. I am personally and professionally delighted to have made it together!
The really fascinating thing about my work is finding the “perfect handbook” for each individual. We have discovered so much together during confinement and have learned so much about who we really are, and about things that don’t matter as much as we thought. We have learned about our priorities, what we appreciate and how we face adversity.
It has been a real pleasure to be close to all of you in such a great journey of discovery, from which we will take something that will last forever. This school year has been about the amazing learning capacity of human beings!
Professionally, I feel I have improved my delivery of the GCSE and A-level material, and used a wider range of teaching techniques – and I am pleased with how the students have progressed.
Having said that, everyone will be ready to get back to the classroom and I hope the students will have a greater appreciation of having a whiteboard and teacher in front of them when we do!
Parents have been able to truly engage with their children’s learning like never before! They have been able to see the benefits of a British education and the style of learning that has engaged and motivated their children throughout the virtual schooling. The creative and critical thinking elements of all subjects have been a pleasant surprise for parents and they have been amazed at how the teachers nurture the children’s ability to create and complete wonderful new learning projects.
Meanwhile, the children have become much more independent and proficient in their use of IT and have had to develop precision in their spoken English language skills to get the help and clarification they need on screen as non-verbal cues and reliance on peers have not been possible.
Families have engaged in my fun and creative weekly challenges, which involved talking, interacting, thinking, debating, creating and working in an open-ended, non-pressurised way, and there was a truly broad and balanced curriculum with Art, Geography, History, PE and Science given a high priority throughout – children loved the additional Art lessons and virtual art gallery.
As the pace of life was slower, we got to spend time as a family baking, doing arts and crafts, making dens and a mud kitchen in the garden, role-playing, doing jigsaws – so there was lots of variety and creativity inside the house as we couldn’t leave it!
We are all grateful for our health and that of our family. Despite the sometimes long and difficult days, we were always able to say we were lucky to have each other; a roof over our heads; family who were safe and well and all in good health when so many others have not been so lucky.
We also enjoyed planning what we would do after lockdown – ambitions that are slowly getting ticked off!
Head of Boarding and Wellbeing
King’s College Madrid
I would say that the drastic changes were a time of reflection for me. The boarding house continued to function and we reflected together that the crisis had stripped away the veneer of importance that many things had and highlighted the people who really are important to us and the work that they do. I hope everyone returns in September with this in mind.
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