It might be the start of a new year but in many respects teaching in 2021 is similar to much of 2020s, with home-schooling and blended learning returning.

At the start of the first UK lockdown in March 2020 we at ONVU Learning had already been working from home for some weeks and had some ideas to share. However while these tips remain useful, there’s been a huge amount of innovation and reflection in both schools and business. So, what can we add? What else have we seen that schools and teachers can learn from?

Here are 7 more ideas to share!

1. Crowdsource materials:

One of the biggest changes over the past few months is the amount of free material available to cut down on planning. Many of our partner schools have benefits from working with Oak National Academy which has produced thousands of lessons for school children while EYFSHome  (which some ONVU Learning staff have worked on) does the same job by providing hundreds of activities for 3-5 year-olds. This list has an incredible 139 further ideas – you’re bound to find something that fits your phase or subject. 

2. Join communities:

Alongside the new materials, there is much more online support available for teachers than in March last year. while TeachersConnect and Teaglo are spaces just for teachers!

3. Do what works for you:

One of the downsides of extensive online material is that you might feel you need to follow exactly what other people are doing – whether that be producing high quality recorded materials or doing a lot of live lessons. As with students, some teachers will be better at some things than others, so make sure that you focus on your strengths. Our guide to blended learning takes you through the essentials, while this article is a good reminder that there is no ‘best’ way of remote teaching. And there’s no need for materials to be perfect either – think of the number of times you make small mistakes when teaching in person!

4. Take small steps to improve your technology and working environment

During the first lockdown teachers became experts at coping with the technology and working spaces they had. But as time goes on, the importance of improving this has increased. Of course, a hi-tech home office can be very expensive but there are some small changes that can be made. This article is a good place to start – but remember that you might also be able to borrow a second monitor or a better microphone from your school or others in your local community.

5. Take time for your own development

As well as more material for teaching and learning, teacher training and development has also moved online, and there are ways to both learn about new technology such as Microsoft Teams and Google Classroom as well as wider pedagogy. For example, you can explore the latest Teams tool (‘breakout rooms) here or explore Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction with expert guide Tom Sherrington here. For those teaching in school, our Lesson Observation system will help kick-start self-reflection and help you share your lessons to help other or ask for help.

6. Keep finding time for yourself and your team

Teaching can be quite an isolated job even when everyone is at school – with teachers spending much more time with students than colleagues. But when you’re working from home (or managing blended learning between home and school) there is even less chance to catch up with colleagues and the pressure of planning and managing online lessons.

It’s therefore vital to work with your colleagues and line manager to establish a routine that means you have the chance to take time out for personal needs (family, exercise, hobbies) and for your team to work together, whether that’s discussing online teaching, student needs, or just catching up over a ‘virtual’ cup of tea!

7. Ask for help

Finally, even if you coped well with the first lockdown, stress can hit at different times, as this article demonstrates. Make sure that you tell your school and line manager about any issues you are facing, and (in the UK) contact Education Support if you need any further help. 

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The School of the Future Guide is aimed at helping school leaders and teachers make informed choices when designing the learning environments of the future using existing and upcoming technologies, as they seek to prepare children for the rest of the 21st century – the result is a more efficient and competitive school.

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