Schoolzone | Primary teachers' reflections on the first month of lockdown

Primary teachers' reflections on the first month of lockdown

Date: 29.05.2020

Primary teachers

Here's what primary teachers told us, via our May survey of over 3,000 teachers:

  • A little frustrated, stuck and isolated at times.
  • A lot of new learning needed to be able to go on line with learning and struggling with the media/government/union problems with re-opening schools
  • anxious about existing health condition, vulnerability and the reopening of schools without social distancing or face covering
  • Apart from the boredom, I have strangely enjoyed it.
  • Closer to my own children. Missing colleagues and the staff-room banter.
  • Concerns over eye-health with increase use of screen time (around 9 hours a day with only a few breaks) Very limited time for exercise, sitting at the computer all day delivering Zoom lessons and responding to marking emails. Seldom leave the house during weekdays!
  • Confused about what will happen as I like to plan ahead and this can’t happen.
  • De skilled and over thinking everything.
  • Despite being in the middle of a pandemic, I feel more relaxed than normal. My stress levels have been greatly reduced and I am sleeping much better. I am working about 25 hours a week (I have a 0.5 contract) which is 15 - 20 hours less than I work in an average week under normal circumstances.
  • Different on different days but often worried about what the future might hold.
  • During term time I’ve kept myself busy but find it hard to adapt when given time off for holidays.
  • Emotionally fine until the government released the return to primary schools, with no consultation beforehand with school staff. Up until this point our team had coped well with the transition to online learning and have built on the good relationships with parents and children, keeping in contact, distance learning etc. We felt we had really got into a good routine with the children engaging in our activities that we offerred. In some cases we now have built stronger relationships with some families that we have ever had before. Then came the announcement that these little children, with little or no comprehension of the scale the impact that the changes to their settings was gooing to have on them, were going to be allowed back to school, but not to the school that they know or recognise. And then followed The emotional roller coaster we have felt since then, sleepless nights, anxiety, having to reorganise classrooms, rework rotas, have difficult conversations with parents and other staff members has been overwhelming. I've had staff crying tears of frustration, relief, anger. As information and guidance is changing on a weekly basis we can't see these feelings abating, and are bracing ourselves for the unknown. Always a very scary place to be.
  • feeling like I want to leave teaching
  • Found it hard to juggle home life and work. Missed the interaction with the children hence found the work less rewarding and motivating.
  • Frustrated and emotional
  • Frustrated, angry, emotional, optimistic at the same time that things will get better.
  • Grateful for more sleep and less tiredness form standing in front of class! Lack of confidence as to whether I can get back up to speed, make up for lost teaching time. Missing my class. Grateful for more family time. Frustrated by the not knowing...
  • Have good days and bad days
  • Hearing of the death of a pupil’s father obviously left me devastated for him but most helpless at not being able to contact him or offer support. I’m also frustrated and worried about pupils with whom I’ve had little or no contact for 8 weeks.
  • Helpless regarding those families that choose not to stay in contact.
  • Highly anxious, debilitatingly so at times. Extremely lonely and scared.
  • I am more happy than before but that is because the lockdown gave me the opportunity to be with my family, which I would be away from for most of the time.
  • I am usually a very positive person- during the lockdown I have suffered from feelings of anxiety and I can't really explain why.
  • I am working hard everyday but feel the press has labelled teachers as lazy. This is extremely demoralising. We do our best for the children.
  • I could sense the fear in the air. How fearful people became of each other. Cycling for hours and walking helped me to keep my sanity intact. I don't have garden and live in a tiny studio flat. I kept my meditation practice and routines to make sure I keep balanced view of what is happening around me.
  • I feel a lot of what I am asked to do is 'make-work' just to fill up our core hours.
  • I feel frustrated with people who don’t do what the government have asked, such as keeping distancing, socialising in parks etc. Some maybe only a few are not taking this situation serious enough.
  • I feel I have become a better teacher as I have only one way to teach so I have to make it work
  • I feel inadequate and overwhelmed by the amount of tasks we have been given to do. The other staff all seem to be coping with the workload and it makes me feel I am doing something wrong but feel too frightened to raise the subject in case it is just me. I have become very emotional and just want to sleep all the time.
  • I feel strongly connected and protective of my family and worry that returning to work will expose them to unnecessary risk. I am unsure of the degree of risk I face outside my home and feel unsafe when I am around other people. I feel healthier than before the lockdown but me tally beginning to feel as though we are in limbo.
  • I feel that I have had time to reflect on life style and how better I have felt. It’s time to start saying no to things I don’t want to do and have more time with my family
  • I had covis symptoms and have been expected to resume duties plus extra ones that had built up over the time I was seriously ill. I have since become exhausted and suffer from post viral symptoms such as muscle aches, continuous headache, drowsiness and fatigue. I find it difficult to concentrate for over 20mins. My managers have shown no sympathy whatsoever. I am anxious and depressed about how I can 'catch up and feel useless.
  • I have been fortunate enough to be part of a family where it has been possible for all my family to work effectively from home, with no worry about loss of income or unemployment. We have all observed the lockdown rules and are all healthy. We have benefited from more family time together and I have enjoyed a slower pace of life. Many of these positives we wish to retain for the future. I have completed planning and been available for my students as directed and have contact with colleagues including SLT of which I am also a memeber.
  • I have been happy to do planning and online marking as I am shielding. The approach to returning children to school scares me.
  • I have been in school full time with key worker children and deli ering online work aswel
  • I have been working because I’m a special needs teacher this I think has seriously helped. However there is an exhaustion about lockdown. I work with complex vulnerable children keeping them safe gives huge satisfaction but there is no way to relax in the way that I used to.
  • I have enjoyed being able to spend more time in my home with my family instead of the usual running around at speed trying to keep all the balls in the air.
  • I have felt fairly well and happy but ocasionally have 'down' days where I have little energy and feel 'dull'.
  • I have felt lonely even though I have my husband and son with me.
  • I have felt pressured to get my head around working in a completely different way with no training or time for getting a grasp on things. It's quite isolating and overwhelming at times.
  • I have felt quite alone at times which has brought on depression. Keeping busy usually helps keep that at bay, but that has been tricky when staying home as a person classed as 'vulnerable' with no family to connect with.
  • I have found it very interesting to explore working remotely. I feel worries about those children who are not engaging with the learning. I feel that my relationship with certain parents has actually improved. I try not to think about a prolongued lockdown as tha tmakes me anxious.
  • I have found the uncertainty very stressful, and in particular the attacks on social media and in the press have made me feel upset and under valued. Teachers seem to have gone from heroes at the start of lockdown, to being labelled and lazy and worthless now we are questioning a return.
  • I have like most people ( I would imagine) are worried about this virus and its effects. I am apprehensive about Schools reopening I think it is too soon and proper plans need to be made.
  • I miss being in contact with pupils and staff but I've also learnt a lot about Google Classroom and other technologies. I enjoy being at home and yet still being in contact with my pupils. The toughest time is when I have to go to the Hub as well as teaching my pupils online. I find I'm working long hours including week ends and holidays.
  • I miss my colleagues, I feel demotivated working from home.
  • I need people to stop media bashing teachers.
  • I received news on Monday of the death of one of my pupil’s father. I feel devastated for him and obviously helpless at not being able to contact and support him. I also feel frustrated at the sporadic or minimal communication received by over half of my class, no matter how often I try to reach them.
  • I spend hours preparing great lessons but don't see the results.
  • i think it has greatly improved independent learning in my students yrs 4 to 8. improved researching and analysis of found information. vastly improved IT skills. i do miss the social contact that school has to offer.
  • I was fine - until the negative press coverage. I now feel I’m being hounded into doing something I do not feel safe doing. I am in tears every time I read one of these headlines in the Daily Mail.
  • I was fine and happy initially but I am now feeling stressed since the announcement was made about schools returning. I'm finding it difficult not knowing what is happening and how it is going to affect me and not knowing if I'll have to be in school even though I don't think it is safe.
  • I’ve been performing at a constant level of heightened anxiety. This has been more intense since the government announced reopening. I’ve lost a family member to Covid 19 and on top of that I have parents who email me constantly asking me questions about returning to school that I just do not have the answers to.
  • Increasingly anxious due to government reflection on teaching and teachers. Undervalued due to media reflection.
  • Isolated from my work family. Harder to do new paperwork at home without them to talk to and support each other. Scared of going back too soon and risking my and my families health. Untrusting of our government and what their agenda actually is.
  • Stressed getting my head around a new way of working. Calm at times. Enjoying more time to do things
  • It goes in waves. Some days I am motivated to get lots done, other days I am very effective all morning and then slump in the afternoon.
  • It has been a huge shock having to re learn how to teach.
  • It varies from day to day, with updates from government, local authority, MAT and school coming daily.
  • IT's nice to be master of my own time, but have plenty to do.
  • I've felt healthier both mentally and physically
  • Just like being on a rollercoaster- ups and downs.
  • Lack of time in class has been an excuse to add other workload. Lack of opportunity to micro-manage has unsettled leaders.
  • Let down and unsupported by our government and the press who have belittled the teaching profession and turned the general public against teachers.
  • Living my best life
  • Lonely
  • Lots of pressure from staff and parents - feelings of exposure and not feeling safe
  • Lots of uncertainty about my wedding in August 2020 which has affected mostly how I have felt! Also moving in with my fiancee and in-laws into a very small house!
  • massive stress levels of workload. pressure from parents as they can see everything you send out
  • Missing my grown up family and sad as my daughter's wedding has had to be postponed
  • More anxious, alone and sometimes not knowing what to do.
  • My days are good when I am interacting with the children and my co-workers. I feel like I am contributing, however, on some days, I very down but I have coping strategies such as taking a walk or photographing.
  • My workload has increased 200%. There are no weekends or holidays just expected to keep working everyday. Blurry between work and home hours and no empathy or understanding from senior management. No thank you or positive comments from them just demands with no consideration of personal circumstances
  • No
  • Nothing is good enough. Parents are unnecessarily demanding additional worksheets and won’t click links to free published sheets worksheets. I feel they completely believe I am doing nothing but I have been at school doing some of the longest days ever and nobody is happy.
  • Our school have gone above and beyond in what they are giving parents to do, and it’s hard to balance the extra work with children at home.
  • Overwhelmed
  • Overwhelmed
  • Exhausted. More marking than ever
  • Pretty scared and low.
  • Pulled on two sides. Partner in high risk category so shopping alone, being extra careful, unable to go in and help with key worker children or many higher risk activities I would normally do (church stuff). Missing children to teach. Not feeling my foundation lessons are valued (skipped by parents under pressure). Enjoying face to face live lessons (in small groups) immensly .
  • Really well supported by my school and colleagues but workload has inevitably increased and it’s more tiring
  • Relaxed with a slower pace, happy to have immediate family at home and with me but missing my extended family terribly. Bored, frustrated and lacking stimulation but strangely calm and placid at times. Up and down with moods and motivation.
  • Ridiculously overworked and exhausted from having to work long days, 7 days a week. As the Easter break was the polar opposite to a 'break' and with half term promising to be the same, I am in desperate need to relax and switch off. Relaxing and switching off at the moment is regrettably not an option if I am to complete what is required and within the defined timeframe.
  • Rubbish
  • Sad
  • Scared that we will go back exactly as it was... I loved hearing the birds and not the cars.. I am already hearing more cars than before...it makes me sad, not relieved.
  • Some days are like the deatheaters have come upon me and I can see little hope or a way out of this.
  • Stressed and very anxious
  • Struggling to work with new routines and the increased workload.
  • The isolation of lockdown has been very difficult to deal with. Working from home is very tricky because we've been asked not to teach anything new, so we are recapping half a year's learning which is getting repetitive now.
  • The workload is too demanding.
  • tired, stressed, working harder than at school
  • Tired, stressed, worried, confused
  • Up and down feel anxious time to time more than usually. I am normally a positive person
  • Useless
  • Very agitated
  • Very anxious at the start with problems sleeping as I had very much a glass half empty feeling and could not see how things would improve.
  • Very mixed - some days I am full of energy and productive and other days I have no energy at all.
  • Very up and down without rhyme or reason. Just random highs and lows very bizarre
  • Very very busy. Too busy to feel lonely.
  • We've been very lucky and not been touched too closely by COVID-19 so have been able to focus on the positives of this time.
  • Work family balance with two young children very challenging. Trying to be full time teacher and educator....step children as mum who they normal reside with us a nurse....is stressful at times and difficult balance to juggle, feel over connected with colleagues and pupils via video and impacts on home life I.e worrying children are occupied and looked after properly when attention is split between calls that go on for over an hour and their well-being. Work says focus on you but then the expectation is still there to focus on work. Also with personal feelings about general situation with Covid feels like you need to support parents emotionally when you may not have that emotional support yourself. Most answers are result of trying to be there in all levels, personal and at all times, because as teachers that’s what we do!
  • Work is 24/7 term-time and over holidays. Keeping up with teaching primary school children online is relentless. Parents email at all hours and expect a speedy response. It is going to be even more challenging still offering full-time education online while teaching those who return to school.
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