Corona Virus 3 is a blog designed to look at how we can prepare for the worst over the coming months. In my previous blogs Corona Virus & Corona Virus 2 I looked at solutions for working at home. But this blog will look at what we can do in this time leading up to potential closure. Schools may of course remain open but I just want to do all I can to prepare. Here are some of my thoughts.
Students cannot complete controlled conditions coursework at home. This is a fact and there is no getting away from it. As of yet exam boards can’t really say much about the plans, but we can do out bit:
- Whilst still at school, ask SLT if you can have a day off timetable to work with Year 11 & 13. They will understand this if you explain the situation and the fact that so much comes down to coursework
- Stay late a couple of days and give students the extra time just in case schools shut.
- Abandon all other plans and focus solely on coursework this week.
- If schools close, make sure students can be thinking about their compositions at home. They can’t complete them, but they could listen to audio files and think through ideas for when they return.
- Don’t panic. That is so important. It will all be okay.
- Non examined years might like to try composing using their own instrument or an online platform. See previous Corona Virus blogs for ideas on this. Just make sure you prepare them for how to do this.
In the lead up to any potential closure it might be a good idea to check that your students have all they need to learn. Here are a few things they need to make sure they have at home or take home:
- Folders full of notes and work
- Instruments – students often leave them over night in my music room and so I am encouraging them not to do that
- Anthology for GCSE & A-Level – crucial for them to use in their learning at home.
Calm before the Storm
The coming weeks and months are full of uncertainty for all of us. It is so important that we therefore keep calm and help our students to remain calm. I am doing several things to try and support that:
- I am not cancelling any events until I am told to do so. Therefore it is business as usual when it comes to end of term concerts
- Rehearsals are all still going ahead and I am trying to make them as fun and engaging as possible. I want students to just have time to enjoy school and relax with some music making.
- I am trying to not always talk about school closure whilst still preparing them for it. I am trying to just keep lessons going and I am leaving it to SLT to formally direct them on how things will be.
- I am trying in myself to not worry. It is hard to do that, but I know that exam boards will do all they can to support us. I am going in to work with the mindset that it is just another day and I am going to try and enjoy it.
- I am reminding myself of my own health and trying to keep sensible. We can’t flog ourselves too hard just because we might close. If we close, we close. We can prepare for it, but we also can’t run ourselves into the ground. Getting ill isn’t a good idea at this time.
Preparing for the performance aspect of any course is something that students can be doing at home. This is good news for us and we can help make sure our students are thinking about this.
- As mentioned above, students need to make sure that they take instruments home with them. But the only potential problem will be where students play drums or piano and don’t have access at home. What can they do? It might be possible for them to borrow an electric piano or potentially even borrow some drums. It might be good to chat this through with them. Maybe the music hub can help with this, just get in touch with them to see.
- If students are going to be performing at home then they can of course record their performances and then send them to you for assessment.Whilst these recordings are in-submisible for GCSE or A-Level, you can still give feedback. In order to support this, students need to be made aware of recording apps on their phone, iPad or laptop. Making sure they can record themselves is crucial ahead of school closures.
- Students might benefit from performing with friends over FaceTime. Whilst this isn’t a good idea for us staff in terms of safeguarding, students can easily e-meet to practise a performance. We are living in a world full of great technology, students may well benefit from it. I think it would be exciting to think of students meeting online to play music. Point them towards this and maybe practise the process in school so they know how it works.
You will no doubt have been approached by your SLT to “teach remotely” during any school closure. What a great idea, gather students online and teach them. Great, sounds easy.
But is it easy? Firstly is it possible with your school software and secondly do you know how to navigate that software. We use Microsoft Teams and luckily we received some training. But you might like to check this for your own setting and make sure you know exactly how to teach online.
There are obvious safeguarding, technology and internet based issues. But there is also the issue that teaching online isn’t easy. If you are using a webcam, which I don’t recommend for the safeguarding reason, then you are likely to be meeting classes using presentations and text. You might like to think about how you will teach with this method.
One thing I think might work is to set students something to listen to in advance. Then, when you meet online, each student can provide their own ideas and feedback. Collaborative learning of this nature is actually quite fun and exciting. I would recommend you trial this in class this week and get students collaborating using written responses on your online platform.
I guess what I am saying is, online learning is possible, people use webinars all the time. But you need to prepare for this and be ready for the challenges it presents. But I think it will be a useful and exciting learning curve for us all.
Ultimately we need to prepare for the worst and make sure that we minimise stress. I want to make sure my students aren’t worried about exams and coursework. Therefore lessons are focussing on covering as much as we can. I am hoping we will have plenty of time with school open, but I do fear that the period after Easter will be tough.
It might be a good idea to meet with students this coming week and go through everything you are doing and everything they can do. But keep it low key and positive so that they know you have got their backs. They will appreciate it. Communicate this to parents and just keep everything in perspective. Exams and Coursework are important, but health is more important. We want our students & parents happy and we are staff want to survive this difficult time.
Please get in touch if you have any thoughts, ideas or questions. And for goodness sake don’t let all this overwhelm you. It will all work out okay and exam boards will soon start to respond to all of our concerns.