There was a Covid outbreak at a school near where I live.
A lot of the teachers at that school had to isolate. Added to that were the staff who hadn’t returned to school because they’re unvaccinated. This created a drain on the pool of casual teachers in the local area.
I work for LearnFast but I like to keep my hand in by doing a little casual teaching work for the department. So when all the casual teachers in my area were covering the Covid affected classes, I got a call from my old school which is also close to where I live.
Returning to school gave me a chance to observe the effects of the Covid lockdowns on this cohort of children.
The class I taught was a Year 1 group, who had had their Kindergarten year and their first year affected by Covid shutdowns.
Their academic level seemed delayed to me, however within the class this wasn’t across the board.
Some children had obviously thrived at home under the tutelage of their parents. Perhaps they liked the one on one, perhaps Mum and Dad had the time and money to stay at home with them and focus on their studies.
Other children obviously hadn’t progressed as much while locked down. Mum or Dad may have had to work from home and didn’t have the time or space to be able to keep up with all the demands placed upon them.
So the bell curve of children in the class seemed to me to have been stretched and that overall these children weren't where they should have been academically.
Interestingly though they seemed a particularly cohesive and cooperative little group. They played well together, listened to each other and me, and worked hard when asked to.
Perhaps the staying at home had made them realise just how precious being with their friends was and how important it was to get along with each other. Maybe home was relaxing and they got more rest than usual without the hectic round of extracurricular activities? Who knows but this group, this incredibly small sample were surprisingly well behaved and charming.
I was concerned that I hadn’t sent home their spelling lists on Monday but was told that they weren’t doing homework at all this term. That seemed like a good idea to me.
I observed some children in the class whose language skills rang alarm bells for me, and I wondered if some children had fallen through the cracks because of Covid. Language problems can mean difficulty learning to read, and this needs to be addressed quickly. Could this have been missed on Zoom lessons?
I am an experienced teacher who specialised in literacy so I have an idea of what I’m looking at.
These are however just my observations based on a very small sample of children over the course of 3 days.