The nation is in standstill once again but this time one thing is different. Teaching. Gone are the days of worksheets and homeschooling. Emilios Georgiou Pavli tells Amber Malley what it’s like to teach through the perils of technology.
Emilios is a year four teacher at South Wilford Church of England Primary School in Sherwood and is one of the thousands of teachers that are caught in the pressure by the government to keep their students stimulated and learning. Mr Pavli speaks about the challenges and triumphs of his students and online teaching along with the worries that this time away from the classroom could lead to.
First of all, what has changed in your day to day life as teacher by going online?
Comparing it to what it was like the last time round it is a lot busier, at the beginning of lock down last year the whole country just stopped. When we started working again it was just about giving them activity sheets and a vague plan. This time there is much more pressure. I am very lucky as my class were all given iPads so for us when we went into lock down it was a certain degree business as usual, the children at home know where there Maths and English is on these devices. The main change is that we are making videos which OFSTED recommended now instead of purely live lessons.
How do you think your 8/9-year-olds are coping with the online teaching?
I was in year one last year and luckily I wasn’t doing as much online teaching as I am right now so it wasn’t as challenging as I imagine it must be for year one now. My kids are online all the time anyway, they are more tech savvy then I ever was at that age so they are pretty good at the online learning. I call them individually once a week and 9 times out of 10 they are all good but occasionally its the parents who call because they can’t work it out but by just calling them I can go through it with them for just five minutes. They love that they can change their avatar, they absolutely adore things like that, they are proper embracing it.
Do you think it is really important for them to get the social interaction that they are missing from the classroom?
Yes. When we feel bad we can just call our friend and talk, cry or watch something together but they don’t have that option as an eight-year-old or even the communication skills, so to have that platform to just have a chat it’s lovely. Just to be silly with each other and have a bit of a laugh as they won’t even be aware of what they are missing.
In terms of the students education, do you think this is going to be detrimental to their learning?
It’s a million dollar question. We are doing everything that we can to keep up with what happened before. After the first lock down my curriculum was based on the year four work but also in the last six months some children have had loads of home learning and some struggled so we were also revisiting year three work learning objectives. In three months the levels were back up to normal which had dropped below average before. It’s going to have an impact but from what we are going off like before we brought them back and caught them up. Its going to have an impact but it is not something that can’t be rectified.
Do you worry for the underprivileged children who may not be getting the help at home that they need?
For everyone that needs to be in, they are in and no one can say that’s a bad thing or that they should stay at home, everyone has agreed they should come in. Our headteacher has been brilliant and sent out a letter saying if you are struggling or under pressure please let us know. We said to everyone vulnerable or not to just judge everyday by itself. The vulnerable list has widely opened up which means the kids that you may have worried about before are now in school, which is great.
Is it really important to help kids with their mental health as they are not as aware?
We have Well-being Wednesdays where there is no learning, we have just given them a sheet and they just choose one of those things like build a fort or have a disco party. They haven’t got the emotional language like we do which makes it very much our responsibility to help them, I am really happy the focus is starting to get aimed at that now. We are giving the opportunity to vent, whether its through something physical and tactical or a lesson where they can talk about their feelings and teaching them the vocabulary to learn how to do this.
Mr Palvi and teachers alike around the country are working their hardest to keep the younger generation both educated and entertained while focusing on their mental health. They deserve a medal for the work they have done in the last year.
Although the pandemic doesn’t seem to be going anywhere just yet, at least Wilford Primary School know that their year fours are in good hands.