COVID-19: the beginning teacher experience
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 125 No 6, 14 August 2020, page no.19
While the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in never-before-seen challenges and stressors for all teachers, the impact on beginning teachers, especially those in their first years of teaching, cannot be underestimated.
As teachers, we all remember what it is like to be in your first years of teaching, and the unique complexities that come with it. Going through this in the midst of a pandemic and the associated angst around health and safety, not to mention the transition to remote delivery of curriculum and the immediate need to adapt pedagogy and behaviour management for online forums, meant that it was quite the baptism of fire for 2020’s new educators.
Some of our beginning teachers have endured all this while also living away from home for what might be the first time, and we know that many of our young teachers have keenly felt the isolation and distance from family.
However, one thing we know about our QTU teacher members is that they are resourceful, creative and shine in times of challenge.
Genevieve Pearson, a young Toowoomba teacher and QTU activist, said: “I think the ‘C’ in COVID-19 stands for CHALLENGE! Despite the multitude of these faced during this unprecedented time, a positive personal outcome has been how it has helped me to cast a lens over all of my daily teaching tasks and processes. This has enabled me to prioritise and eliminate non-essential tasks that contribute to my workload.”
Our young teachers bring a unique skillset with them to the classroom, and the COVID-19 pandemic has created opportunities for these teachers to lead in the space of online delivery of curriculum. The success of these teachers, in terms of their ability and confidence to navigate the online platforms required for remote delivery of curriculum, is to be shared and celebrated.
Georgia McLean, a young teacher and QTU activist from Brisbane, found that the innovative use of online learning platforms provided insights into her students’ preferred learning styles, and their lives as young people. “Regardless of academic ability, I had some students thrive in the self-paced environment at home and some who preferred the classroom environment with its clear structure and hours specifically assigned to class work.”
Our new educator members should be proud of the strength, resilience, resourcefulness, courage and determination they have shown during these unprecedented times. Their work and professionalism in continuing the education of students during the pandemic is something to be recognised, appreciated and celebrated.