EVERY summer the arrival of ads with the grim phrase ‘back to school’ strikes a little bit of depression into the hearts and psyches of young people.
It has happened every year for decades now, but this August St Patrick’s Comprehensive teacher Jacquie Murphy thinks everyone concerned will actually relish getting back to textbooks and classrooms in 2020.
“I think we all need it, the big part of teaching is the interaction with students and we all miss that. I’m sure students miss their friends and they miss the interaction with people, I’m sure parents would like their children to be learning in a more interactive way than online. I think it’ll form a big part of teacher’s summers, we all plan over the summer and we’ll be planning in the background that it might be online again or part of it might be online, so we’ll be trying to build up resources for that as well,” she says.
Even missing the end of the school year was difficult for young people, she says. “We all hoped we’d be back before the summer and we could end the year together, even if it had been with smaller groups at different times of the day. That didn’t happen and we did our best to kind of help students through the idea of ending the year through our website and social media.”
As the year wound down there were some remote discussions about the 2020/21 academic year and what it would involve. “We’re kind of biding our time and planning. We wouldn’t be aware of a huge amount yet, we’re kind of biding our time and planning in the background more than anything else. It’s kind of a case of having a Plan A, B, C and D. We just don’t know what way it’s going to open, will we have all students back, some students back, different times of the day, it’s very hard to know really.
“Part of our end of year plans was discussions about it and we’re putting up signs for social distancing, getting as much ready as we can now so that when information is released it’ll be easier to get everything put in place.”
When more information and direction becomes available very detailed plans will need to be made. “Management are going to have to spend a large amount of their time over the summer planning for this. I’m assuming it’ll come down to timetabling and everything, there’s so much to try and predict.”
Remote teaching began very suddenly and she says it may continue to be used to some extent. “It was put on us as a last minute thing, we were told on a Wednesday or a Thursday that was the end, that was it. We were lucky that we did have a system set up, that we could use it. It was very much new to all the students and teachers and we’ve been perfecting that over the last couple of months. We’ll all be looking at how to make the absolute most of it, if it’s something that continues. We all thought this is a temporary thing, but just in case it’s not, it’s something that we have to keep in the back of our minds.”
She feels some young people took a lot of positives from it. ”It quite suited some students, they quite liked the idea of the online learning and that instead of listening to a teacher once they could go back on something
that’s pre-recorded and look at it more. There’s an idea that maybe it should form more of a part of the curriculum in the future.”