By Sabrina Sacco, Head of Modern Foreign Languages & Performing Arts teacher, Alcester Academy in Warwickshire
Like thousands of teachers across the country, Sabrina Sacco had to embrace a ‘new normal’ after schools closed to most pupils in March. Sabrina soon found herself juggling parenting, home-schooling and teaching in new and innovative ways, trying to ensure she was there to support both her students and her own children.
While it’s certainly been a challenge, Sabrina says the past few months have helped make her stronger as a parent and a woman, and the experience has reinforced why she decided to become a teacher.
A proud of mum of three and teacher of over 16 years, Sabrina shares her top three lessons from lockdown.
Routine is key.
I think we’re all well aware by now that sticking to a schedule while working from home is often easier said than done. However, teachers are used to timetabled days and having a structured routine in place is vital, not only for the students we work with, but also for our personal wellbeing.
I still tried to maintain my morning routine so was up early to help my three young children get ready for the day, as well as planning ahead for lessons in lockdown.
For my students, the ‘school day’ wound down in the afternoon when I’d generally spend some time planning future virtual lessons.
Putting in place a routine was vital, both for my work and home life. It helped maintain the rhythm of school in the absence of being in the classroom.
Feedback is fundamental.
Giving feedback is central to being a teacher. As human beings, we seek reassurance and the praise of others to guide us and let us know we’re on the right track. For students, this is even more important. Young people need that constant stream of feedback from their teachers to help them study and reach their full potential.
During lockdown, providing my students with feedback on a regular basis was a big part of my day. It kept students motivated, enthusiastic and positive knowing that they’re continuing to progress even while learning from home. An important part of this is about listening too, so conversations with students were also invaluable. There’s nothing like the voice of someone you trust reassuring you that you’re doing a good job.
In the same way, I’ve also been touched by the heart-felt messages of support and “thank yous” from pupils, parents and the wider community – it’s created stronger bonds and helped keep me motivated.
It’s okay to not have all the answers.
As a parent and a teacher, lockdown led to a fair share of ‘I don’t know’ moments. It was tough trying to explain lockdown to young children; trying to help them understand that life’s going to be a little bit different now. Helping the father of my children, who is also a teacher, by sharing responsibilities meant I had to try and support my kids with subjects I was less familiar with.
These are uncertain times but, for me, the last few months have really underlined the emotional rewards of teaching and the important role it has in society.
Teachers shape lives every day. If you want to know what that feels like, visit Get into Teaching.