Harder to teach from home

2020-05-04 14:00
The placement process has been accelerated thanks to a system which auto populated placements according to certain details like geographical area, siblings in the school and work addresses.

The placement process has been accelerated thanks to a system which auto populated placements according to certain details like geographical area, siblings in the school and work addresses. ((iStock))

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While many people have been sharing memes about how unfair it is that teachers are getting paid despite not having worked for almost two months, local teachers have shared that they have been putting in more hours during the lockdown than they have ever had to in the past.

Schools have been closed since mid-March, when government introduced social distancing to slow the pace of Covid-19 infections.

According to Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga, the proposed date for teaching in schools is June 1 for Grade 7 and 12. The proposed dates will stand, subject to the officials making sure everything is compliant with Covid-19 regulations.

Contrary to the notion that teachers are relaxing at home enjoying a fully-paid holiday, many teachers across the country have been using online platforms such as Whats­App, Microsoft Teams, Google Classroom and YouTube, to continue teaching their pupils.

Commenting on The Witness Facebook page, a local teacher, Caroline Alice Hansmeyer, she thinks most teachers are still working long hours, like herself.

“A lot of us are also parents that are now home-schooling, so the load is large and the stress levels real,” she said.

Another teacher, Candice Dawson, said she has been making concept videos for her pupils. She said it generally takes her 10 minutes to record a four-minute-long video and then three hours to edit and put it together. She sends two or more videos a day.

“My kids don’t all have internet, so I made booklets and these WhatsApp videos go with the booklet but aren’t needed if parents don’t have data.

“I want to go back to school so badly, but not prematurely.”

Dawson said she’d much rather have a day at school with added hours than this.

“If anything good comes from the videos, it’s forcing me to teach concepts differently and become better with technology and I’ve realised I could never have an office or computer job, the headaches and sore eyes are real,” she said.

Carolyn Heppes van Zuydam said she too has been teaching full-time with real-time online teaching, using Microsoft Teams and a range of other useful apps to enhance the pupils’ remote learning.

Wesley Adie said he has been making videos for pupils and giving them work to do during this time at home.

He also offers free online Skype and Zoom sessions with pupils.

Sherri-Lee Baker, a teacher from the UK, said she sympathises with South African teachers and teachers from all over the world.

“We are working harder now than ever before because we are trying to help our own children learn at home and still teach our class children. We work on a roster, so we go into school to look after the children whose parents are keyworkers. We put ourselves and families at risk of spreading corona but no claps for us, just more demands and peanuts for pay.

“Last week I was in school and only a few children came, their parents are nurses and doctors, I have never been so fearful of working,” she said.

Julie Meiklejohn said she started teaching on online platforms two weeks ago. “I interact daily with them. Working hours are the same as normal school days, actually longer at the moment,” she said.

Tracey van Nieuwenhuizen said, “I have been doing videos and voice notes to a class chat and it’s been good to see the interaction between the little ones and myself. Very different teaching preschool this way.”

Sarah van Dyk, also a teacher, said she has been working harder than she’s ever had to work.

“I start the day by cleaning my whole house as my nanny is not here during lockdown. After that I home-school my Grade 4 daughter, the whole time having my phone and PC at hand for when any of my students are stuck with work I have set, so I can help them.

“All the time, I’m also taking care of my high-energy two-and-a-half-year-old son. I then use the afternoon to create content that is achievable at home with explanations written on it and links to websites, videos and voice notes.

“Then it’s time to cook dinner and tidy the house again before husband gets home, he is an essential worker so I am doing the home thing alone.

“As soon as kids are asleep I try spend some quality with him or just pass out from sheer exhaustion.

“I’ve spent over R1 000 on data to keep the home-schooling going and it’s hectic and I am tired. If this is the only ‘holiday’ we as teachers get this year, I am going to burn out.

“I also wake up at 3 am to make use of night owl data to save money when needing to make worksheets,” she said.

Tracy Leigh Kerr said, “I am a teacher and honestly I have had no time to rest.

“I am working longer hours now than before. I am finding it extremely stressful and overwhelming.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  teachers
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