Education in English during COVID-19: your stories

A growing series of stories from researchers, teachers, and education experts about their experience of teaching English during the pandemic.

Explore this growing series of stories from researchers, teachers, and education experts about their experience of teaching English during the pandemic. We hope that these stories form a springboard to discussion about the ways in which teaching and learning English might be transformed as a result of the pandemic. We'd love to include your story too, so please share it with us on Twitter (@englishassoc) or email us on engassoc@leicester.ac.uk.

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Photo of Katy Shaw"I don't think any of us will forget this academic year, or the next. Or perhaps the next...

The pandemic will have a significant impact on the lived experience of working and studying in UK HE and HEIs for years to come. Resilience and sustainability, strategy and transition, adaptability and community have become the key words of this period, and will underpin future developments across English as a discipline, but also the wider HE sector.

English is uniquely placed to help prepare our students for a future we can now only imagine. Transition skills are at the heart of our subject area. From curiosity and optimism, to flexibility and persistence, the skills gained from studying English are now more than ever essential to future-proofing the professional and personal horizons of our students.  Offering higher level skills that can be deployed in a variety of different contexts, English in all its forms cultivates independence, adaptability and resilience in students. In the PC period, the study of English will help to prepare students for the constantly changing labour market they will face and develop in them the capacity to adapt and thrive within the unknown.

It is easy to focus on the negative, but there is so much positive to take from the experiences of the covid crisis so far. In the last three weeks I’ve had interesting tutorials with students in their onesies, learned to use ‘Teams’ as a verb, and seen inside the homes of nearly everyone I work with. The speed and sacrifice of academic staff has been especially humbling and inspiring. Colleagues have rallied and moved online with lightening speed and efficiency in order to protect and enable teaching and learning. Students have stepped up with tolerance and tenacity to engage with teaching staff and have shared their own journeys through rapidly shifting contexts. University management has communicated openly and in a profoundly humane, supportive manner. Communication has actually never been better, solidarity never stronger.

This is a time of real challenges, but also of real opportunities. It doesn’t have to be a case of returning to ‘business as usual’ in the PC period. In fact, many practices and processes that we were unhappy are now up for genuine review. This is a time to worry only about what we can control, to seize the opportunity to innovate, and to embrace change in all its forms.

As we move towards the end of the beginning, we have to remember that this will be a marathon and not a sprint. We must now begin to prepare our students and our colleagues for a sustained period of extraordinary conditions and ask again for flexibility and responsiveness as part of our core offer. There will be challenges ahead - but by confronting these united, and building upon the teamworking achieved to date, we can show the manifold ways in which English as a discipline is uniquely placed to ready our students for the PC world that awaits."

Katy Shaw is a Professor of Contemporary Writings at Northumbria University. She is a member of the EA's Higher Education Committee, and has been a Fellow of the EA since early 2020. You can find Katy on Twitter @profkatyshaw.

Photo of Caroline Magennis"I am not a natural online teacher – I like being in the classroom too much...

I love that feeling of leaving the world at the door and turning towards books and ideas. My students at Salford are so sparky and funny – no matter what meetings I’ve been in that day or forms I’ve had to fill out, they never fail to make me think and laugh. I wasn’t sure, if I’m honest, how I’d cope without having these interactions but, as they say, needs must when the devil drives.

This semester I was running three modules – the first year core module Theory and Practice, a final year research-led option Alternative Ulster and the MA module on Professional Practice. I realised quite quickly that these three groups needed a different approach but that there was some elements of best practice I could stick to – make sure every session is recorded, be consistent in the platforms that I use and try to bring some of the spirit of our interactions to this brave new world.

At Salford, a patient colleague in our Learning Technologies department, Calum Thompson, explained the capabilities of our VLE to us and we began to experiment together. He made YouTube videos to help our students submit different kinds of assignments and answered questions with the kind of generosity that makes me think every University needs a Calum!

Daunted, I sat down at my computer at a corner of the bedroom, my partner beginning his own move to online teaching for his EAP course in the living room. But I needn’t have worried – my first years developed their own brilliantly chaotic approach to using the chat box, my third years rallied round some difficult material and indulged me sending them recipes for the Northern Irish delicacy (Fifteens) I had planned to make. My MA students turned their conference, long planned and sadly cancelled, into digital presentations. It’s not the same as sitting and talking, drinking coffee while sharing in-jokes and biscuits but our students are proving themselves good humoured and adaptable. Surely not terrible skills in the world to come."

Dr Caroline Magennis is a Reader in Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Century Literature and Admissions Lead for Literature, Language, Creative Writing and Drama in the School of Arts and Media at the University of Salford. Caroline is also the Chair of the British Association of Irish Studies. You can find her on Twitter @drmagennis.

Photo of Jane Campion"I have never spent so much time in my kitchen...

Not cooking, or not only cooking, but round the table with laptops, books, pens, pencils, scissors and glue trying to balance working with my own children (keystage 2 maths, English, history, geography and quite a lot of art) and to maintain some kind of purposeful relationship with classes who I no longer see, and indeed one class I have taken on whom I have never seen.The communication at the moment all feels very one way. In the frenzied efforts of the couple of weeks leading up to the closure of schools, we worked frantically to get mock exams marked for A-level and GCSE students who we were at that time still preparing for exams. We spent weekends on WhatsApp and email putting together booklets of work that would keep pupils busy with meaningful work in the event of a closure we saw as more and more likely and I hardly stopped to think. Now, of course, I have quite a lot of time to think.

The booklets of work have served their immediate purpose. Those children without access to computers or tablets or reliable broadband could go home with something to do and we could use the time after closure to establish routines for ourselves and think out the next steps, but I’m finding the distancing from classes a real struggle. Our department WhatsApp has been peppered with similar anxieties as we wonder how often and by what means to get in touch with pupils and parents; how to raise concerns that pupils and students seem not to have even looked at the work set, nevermind attempted it; whether to set them more to do or less.

In between trying to explain percentages, find objects with which to make a sculpture, filter emails and text messages, clear up the endless accumulation of cups, glasses, crumbs, apple cores, pencil shavings, we’ve been busy writing quizzes, as it seems to be one quick and accessible way for us to check something is being done and for pupils to show us that they are doing. We’ve been playing around with different technologies, but tentatively and with a sense that they might create more problems than they solve, and we’ve been sourcing poems that resonate, provoke or amuse to share with staff through the daily bulletin.

So this is where we are: there are ‘home-learning booklets’ for keystage 3 that include a range of SPAG, reading and writing activities and from which we can set specific tasks each week. There is an Easter poetry competition on the theme of ‘rebirth’ for anyone who wants to participate. There is the opportunity to learn some more poems from Poetry By Heart in our weekly poem challenge. There is a reading project that we always set at this time of year for keystage 3 and for which pupils had already chosen their novels and are keeping reading diaries, doing character studies and formulating a creative response. There are quizzes galore. There is a whole bank of reading and writing activities that are lined up and ready to go after Easter. Year 10 have started and so are continuing to read Lord of the Flies and there are weekly quizzes and activities to support this. Year 12 have study questions on their set texts, consolidation and revision activities that are replacing the internal exams they would have been preparing for, links to performances of plays on YouTube and lectures, discussions, radio programmes.

But there is no satisfactory discussion, yet. Indeed, there is relatively little back and forth, and I’ve realised that while feedback is undoubtedly important for pupils, it is just as important for teachers."

Jane Campion is an English teacher at the Katharine Lady Berkeley School in Gloucestershire. Jane is the Chair of the EA's Secondary Education Committee, and is a Trustee of the EA. She has been a Fellow of the Association since 2019.

Photo of Malcolm Hebron"For any teacher, it is a salutary experience to be a learner – and ideally, a learner who feels no particular aptitude for the matter in hand.

That was my fate when schools were closed and we found ourselves in our virtual classrooms providing virtual teaching to literally remote students. If nothing else, I was a useful example of hubris. I tend to present myself in class as some kind of palaeolithic relic who grew up in the pre-digital world, in that strange vanished era of cassettes and LPs, when the most extensive source of knowledge was a printed encyclopedia. Now I was lurched out of my analogue reveries into the digital learning environment in all its tireless urgency, faced with a cycle of timetables, deadlines and strange meetings in cyberspace. English literature seemed far away.

And so, in lockdown Week One, I had to get to grips with various platforms: OneNote, Firefly, Skype for Business. Soon I was holding online registrations, trying to figure out what to do with microphone, video, commenting on text whilst chatting and attempting to maintain gravitas in a forum where we all seemed to be ‘presenters’ and could turn each other on and off at will - the democratic classroom in action (I know there’s a way of fixing this). It didn’t help that everyone else seemed to adapt to these technologies effortlessly, mainly I think because they had been using them all along. I felt like Captain Kirk on the bridge of the Enterprise staring at a row of flashing lights as we entered a turbulent, unknown galaxy. Advice and instructions were at hand, though I could only take in so much information in a given time, after which it turned into gibberish (teacher as learner). Somehow I got to the end of term and even managed to read some essays and make comments on them.

That was a lot less than others achieved. A curious reaction to remote learning was that many teachers across the country set vast amounts of work. This phenomenon seemed to be international. A friend in Belgium told me that there had been widespread irritation there with the umanageable quantity of homework being set. Somewhere on The Guardian website is a video of a mother in Israel telling the teachers to back off and be reasonable. Why did it happen, this sudden access of zeal? A valiant desire to help children by keeping them occupied? A fear of losing control? Most likely, for most of us, a general attempt to do the right thing, even when the right thing was as clear as vapour.

As we were just settling down to our keyboards, the closure of schools was swiftly followed by the cancellation of exams, throwing the educational world into a second crisis. Understandably, many pupils were distraught, feeling that all their conscientious efforts would be for nothing. And the teaching profession were rightly anxious for some clear guidelines on how to motivate their students, and provide a meaningful, and just, grade on their efforts. Yet it was also rather dispiriting that exams seemed to have taken such a totemic importance as to be the sole guarantor of meaning. With exams removed, our teleology collapsed and we were in a godless universe struggling to understand the purpose of it all.

Briefly, a brave new world flickered. What would education be like if it wasn’t so test-obsessed, where the idea of ‘assessment objectives’ didn’t translate so lethally into the idea that the objective of learning is to be assessed? Might children now be encouraged to set some of their own goals, to read books they found in the house, create a journal, write poems, discover and answer the prompting of their own curiosity? Perhaps thinkers in a different mode - Dewey, Russell, A S Neill, Freire – might now usher us into new times? Curiously, the continual present tense of the virtual world sent thoughts back to an older one. The e-classroom with its infinite variations and core fact of everyone being in their own space, invited thoughts of radical revaluation and restructuring. Perhaps, for example, ground-up thinking might be more enriching than top-down directives? An individual teacher might be best placed to mould their expectations to the circumstances of an individual child. Perhaps micro-managed timetables could be put to one side and young people could organise their own goals and how to manage them? With education, as with other activities, the strange situation brought with it a heady sense of possibility.

Notes of caution must be sounded. The romantic vision of independent learning, enticing though it is, has all sorts of pitfalls – reading books that are around the house is great, if you’re lucky enough to be in a house with books in it, and the space to read them. Home schooling can no doubt be wonderful when parents are committed to it, and have the time and energy to make it work. As for the cult of exams, too many careers, positions and businesses have been built around the testing system for it to vanish overnight. If there is to be an alternative, it needs to be given some definite shape. A few weeks – let us hope that is it all it is – teaching by google and skype is unlikely to bring significant reform.

These are just hazy, early summer thoughts, part of the relentless daydreaming that seems to be part of the situation we are in. But, even as I ponder the mysteries of the e-world, as unreal yet palpable as Macbeth’s dagger, some things become clear. The need learners for teachers has not changed. There is just a new set of questions of how we answer those needs fairly, and sensitively. There is an agonising dilemma in whether or not to embrace the ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ spirit. On the one hand, it feels right to carry on as normally as possible, to instil a healthy sense of routine and structure; yet at the same time we cannot ignore the fact that shock, trauma, panic and grief are real presences in the lives of those we virtually visit, and our own lives, too. This is not business as usual. The binary codes of the digital world seem pitifully inadequate for the multifarious human realities they deal with. And so we seem to be in a kind of limbo, trying to duplicate online the world we are used to off it, while knowing that this is impossible really, and wondering whether the kind of schooling we emerge into will be fundamentally different. Somehow, through this unknown, tempestuous space, the starship lurches on. No one knows what world it is headed to. But when we beam down again, we will be changed.

Dr Malcolm Hebron teaches English Literature and is Head of Drama at Winchester College. He has published a study of medieval romance, The Medieval Siege: Theme and Image in Middle English Romance (Oxford, 1997) and writes articles on language and literature for various academic and educational periodicals. His research interests include English language study applied to literary criticism and Medieval literature. Malcolm is the Editor of the English Association journal for teachers of English at secondary level, The Use of English, and is a member of the EA's Secondary Education Committee.

Photo of Jenny Stevens FEA"My diary for March 2020 was full and organized, with three days of ‘subject expert’ work for Ofqual, combined with two days of A-level teaching, pencilled in for each week. By the middle of week two, however, it was clear that forces far greater than school timetables and examination regulators were taking hold.

What happened in the remaining days of March was like nothing I’ve experienced in a teaching career of close on 40 years: school closures, the cancellation of public examinations and a rapid shift from face-to-face to distance learning.

The transition from the physical world of the classroom to a school’s virtual learning system of choice has doubtless been a turbulent one for most teachers – even those who are technologically savvy and blessed with a typing speed of 200 words per minute. In just five days, I went from being a fairly low-level user of digital technologies to someone whose work life moved from one communication platform to another (I clocked up four over one particularly stressful 24 hours). This brief period also saw me try out several of the affordances of the Google education suite, which I’d previously dismissed as either ‘not worth the effort’ or somehow inimical to my subject.

While it’s probably too soon to reflect in any meaningful way on this shift from a ‘close’ to a ‘remote’ pedagogy, I hope that my five-day account below might provide a starting point for further discussion on the topic amongst EA members.

Day 1

This was my second day of working at Ofqual’s Coventry offices and the first day it fully dawned on me that the Covid-19 crisis was taking everyone – educationalists included – into uncharted waters. With a full day’s meeting cut short by an announcement to all Ofqual staff that they would be moving to home-working, my journey back to London came earlier than expected. Checking school emails on the Euston train, it became evident from the numerous anxious messages from students obliged to self-isolate that the next teaching day would involve catering for those who were in school and those who weren’t – a daunting prospect bearing in mind that I had no free periods and a lunchtime departmental meeting (note to self: pack sandwiches).

Day 2

My usual 7.30 am check-in at the Staff Room confirmed that a substantial proportion of the work force were at home due to virus-related circumstances. Several of those present expressed concerns at having had to travel on crowded tube trains, questioning with some urgency when the SLT would announce the school’s closure. As this was the day scheduled for the English department’s oral feedback on Year 13 NEA drafts, I have to confess to hoping that school would stay open long enough for this task to be completed. As it turned out, with only around 60% of Year 13 in attendance, we had to juggle face-to-face feedback in lesson time with feeding back to absentees via email, ensuring parity of attention as we did so – something made all the more pressing by Ofqual’s recent ruling regarding a student’s right to appeal their centre-assessed NEA mark. Midday brought the news we’d all been expecting: the school would shut its gates for an indefinite period from 4pm that afternoon, with an announcement to that effect being made to all students during the lunch break. The period that followed was a difficult one for teachers and students alike. My second Year 13 group of the day came into the classroom in a state of some distress not, as I had feared, because they were worried about the teaching they would lose in the run up to the final exams (still not cancelled), but because they sensed that this would be their last English lesson ever. This rupturing of the usual rituals of leave-taking was something I’d not appreciated, preoccupied as I was with the uncertainties surrounding final assessment (note to self: in times of emergency, don’t forget to put yourself in the students’ shoes).

Day 3

With news of the cancelled public examinations having broken the previous evening, my first day of remote teaching started at the crack of dawn with a hastily reconfigured plan for Year 13 teaching. While the prospect of modified April ‘mini-mocks’ was still on the cards, the sudden freeing of Year 13 from Assessment Objectives, exam timings and quotation learning brought with it a feeling akin to floating in space: at once liberating and disorienting. Although we were adhering to the school timetable to keep a sense of normality, sitting silently in front of a laptop in my own study felt decidedly odd. It was, then, a relief to receive an email enquiry from a student, politely asking whether I’d omitted a sample answer to one of my questions on The Duchess of Malfi (I had). Reassured that there were real students out there in the ether, my spirits lifted. Rather pusillanimously, I avoided any synchronous teaching methods, fearing that much of the ‘lesson’ time would be spent fielding questions about how final grades were to be calculated, opting instead for a combination of screen recordings and structured questions posted at the start of the lesson, followed by suggested answers for self-assessment at its close. For my ‘Women in Literature’ group (one of the topics on OCR’s Comparative and Contextual component), I posted for close reading a sprightly piece from Edna O’Brien’s The Country Girls, followed half an hour later by a screen recording of me talking through an annotated copy of the passage. What struck me forcibly in the process of producing this recording was just how much I missed the stimulus of classroom debate and the role it plays in renewing and reshaping my own thinking about a text. At the same time, I suspected that a few of the less assured speakers in the class might have enjoyed allowing their own interpretations to develop, without being swayed by the opinions of those peers generally regarded as ‘really good at English’. Taking stock as the timetabled day drew to a close, I noted how my laptop was beginning to feel like an additional limb and how preparing lessons for distance learning was more time-consuming than I’d ever imagined (note to self: learn to touch-type).

Day 4

After what the French so evocatively term a ‘nuit blanche’, I started my second day of remote teaching with new ideas formed in the small hours and a determination to experiment with a wider range of EdTech ‘opportunities’. One of my more rational middle-of-the night ideas was to make a daily screen recording of a staggeringly brilliant poem, short enough for students to commit to memory, if they wished. First up was Emily Dickinson’s ‘The Soul selects her own Society –‘, whose intriguing indeterminacy seemed guaranteed to keep them listening – and thinking. Individual responses to what was a relatively low-effort initiative were touching in their enthusiasm and it struck me that students were perhaps more likely to express this kind of appreciation from a distance than in the closer confines of the classroom, where it might well be deemed ‘sucking up’. Bolstered by excellent daily ‘remote learning tips’ gathered from across school departments by one of our SLT, today’s pedagogical practices were a good deal more diverse those of the previous day. Google Chat enabled one Year 13 group to respond synchronously to previously released extracts from critical writings on The Merchant’s Tale, and YouTube offered up a twelve-minute 1910 silent film version of Twelfth Night, which students responded to following a few guided questions from me, later submitting their responses for me to look over, collate and distribute to the whole class. A digital version of Woolf’s short story ‘Mrs Dalloway in Bond Street’ (thank you Project Gutenberg!) shed an intriguing new light on the novel which grew from it. Having determined a set time for individuals to read the story (no easy matter, given the different reading speeds in the group), I set up a collaborative document, assigning to pairs of students a couple of specific questions about the story’s relation to the novel. As the reading time elapsed, so the written discussion started to appear on my screen. While I could have joined in (or interfered?) at this point, I decided instead to sit back and wait until the lesson was over, only then adding my own commentary; this was not in the way of formative assessment, but an engaged response to the story as a co-reader. Trying out this comparative exercise via distance learning made me realise just how creative and brave students can be in their interpretation when given free rein. Focusing for a couple of hours on an activity which, had we been working towards a final examination, I’d have dismissed as too time-consuming and peripheral, made me question how far I’d slipped into an exam-driven habit of mind and whether the pressure to end the course with starry ‘outcomes’ had made me a less adventurous teacher (note to self: incorporate this activity next time I revise Mrs Dalloway for the final exam) .

Day 5

Feeling considerably more confident about this brave new world of digital teaching, I scheduled my first ‘live’ lesson via Google Meet with my Year 12, a group small enough to make an online conference both manageable and productive (an unforeseen upside to the decline in A-level English Literature over the past few years). Heeding SLT advice that we should disable the video, I went ahead with an audio-only lesson, having previously asked the students to prepare responses to individually allocated questions on the text. The session went by much more swiftly than I’d anticipated with speaking time divided more or less evenly between individuals (me included). Leaving participants with the task of preparing their own questions on a given section of the set novel, to be distributed to the whole class, I was left with plenty of teaching and learning issues to store away for future reflection. First amongst these was my own listening skills: I’ve long been aware that these are not as good as they should be. I know that I’m too easily distracted by anticipating what needs to be ‘taught’ next, as well as by the low-level irritations that occur in any classroom – the clicking pen, the tilting chair, the slow perusal of split-ends. The invisibility of students focuses the mind intently on what they’re saying, with hesitations, repetitions and vocabulary choice taking on a much more crucial role in evaluating their understanding. Being able to jot down interesting points as students articulate them – a difficult thing to do during the to and fro of class discussion – helps the listening teacher formulate precise feedback and thoughtfully targeted reinforcement. The obverse of this, of course, is that, without seeing our students, we’re unable to pick up on those all-important verbal clues which, as experienced teachers, we use diagnostically without even realising it. My student might have sounded thoroughly engaged and on-board with the lesson while she commanded the microphone, but the others might well have been talking to the cat or swiping left or right on Tinder (note to self: consider remote means of gauging how bored they’re getting).

And a couple of weeks on …

If seven days is a long time in politics, then five days felt like a long time in the early days of distance learning, prompting many members of the teaching community to use that already over-worked phrase ‘a steep learning curve’. At the time of writing, I’ve no idea how long my remote teaching experience will last, nor what its long-term impact will be on my teaching practice and my students’ learning. Nonetheless, I’m convinced that, if nothing else, the recent transition from the real to the virtual classroom has concentrated the mind on what matters in English teaching: first and foremost, that we should place our trust in the resilience of our students and in their ability to respond to texts independently, bringing to them fresh, often acute, insights. Such qualities are all too easily subdued at a time when accountability measures threaten to drive pedagogy, rendering it assessment-driven and risk-averse.

Remote teaching has prompted me to reconsider the place of technology in the English classroom. In addition, it’s reminded me to think carefully when timing student activities, to guard against closed questions about the text, to listen more carefully to what students say – and to talk a lot less (note to self: read the previous sentence on a daily basis when school reopens)."

Jenny Stevens has taught English at both undergraduate and secondary level. She currently combines part-time teaching with academic writing and editing. Her publications include Faith, Fiction and the Historical Jesus (2010), a study of the mid-to-late Victorian novel. She is co-author of Essential Shakespeare (2013) and Shakespeare and Early Modern Drama (2016) and is currently working on Shakespeare adaptation for a forthcoming Arden publication. She is also a Founding Fellow of the EA (since 2000).

Photo of Sarah Mullin"We are currently experiencing a new way of life and adapting to a whole new normal. As we navigate these uncertain times, we seek light in the darkness, clarity in the confusion, and hope in the helplessness.

Self-isolation and social distancing is providing us with the time and space we need to reflect on what is important in life, to appreciate what matters most and to look forward to new beginnings.

During these times of school closures, teachers are setting work for pupils to complete at home, yet this unique period provides the opportunity for children and young people to learn some valuable life lessons.

1. The importance of empathy

Our social media timelines are filled with the heartfelt memorials of loved ones who have lost their lives too soon. Friends and family members are pleading for prayers for our nearest and dearest. NHS frontline workers are urging us to stay home and save lives. This time provides an opportunity for children to appreciate and understand the importance of empathy. As we paint rainbows of hope, donate parcels to our local food banks and clap for our carers, we are recognising that our actions and behaviours have a life changing impact on others.

2. The value of relationships

Whether we are baking together, playing family board games or helping one another with chores around the house, we are realising that there is nothing more important in life than family, friends and love. Unfortunately, we never truly appreciate the value of a moment until it becomes a distant memory. Thanks to technology we can reach out and keep in touch with one another, but never again will we take for granted a sincere smile or a warm embrace; we will forever live in the moments where we are surrounded by our nearest and dearest.

3. To slow down and enjoy life

We are no longer dashing between dance classes, football matches and birthday parties; we are embracing a more relaxed pace of life. It is a time to focus on our blessings as we evaluate what truly makes us happy. We are taking pleasure in life’s little joys: immersing ourselves in the beauty of a book and watching the clouds gently floating across the sky. Children are learning to be resilient and resourceful as they use their imagination to be creative in their surroundings, opening the door to new possibilities and opportunities.

4. The beauty of nature

Soft play centres, trampoline parks and video game arcades are closed. The little pleasures in life include a jog in the park and a walk down the street. The din of beeping horns no longer drowns out the sweet hum of tweeting birds and we are taking pleasure in noticing previously bare branches now blooming with cherry blossom. Maybe this period will allow our children to realise that we are mere guests here on mother Earth and we must do all we can to be responsible, respectful and courteous visitors. As we appreciate the awe and wonder of the beginning of spring, let us learn the importance of doing our part to be kind to nature.

5. To be kinder to ourselves

Life is precious, and during these unprecedented times children have the opportunity to reflect on the fragility of life. We are reminded that time waits for no-one; we should do all we can to live a joyful life devoid of sadness, negativity and regret. It is a time to seize new opportunities, pursue our dreams, let bygones be bygones and to be kinder to ourselves. We are learning to prioritise our health and wellbeing, investing in our personal growth and development.

Life is a continuous learning experience. As we stay safe at home during lockdown, let us hope that our children and young people learn to make every moment count. Let them appreciate the importance of living a life filled with love and experiences, and not material items. Let them learn the value of memories and not just the price of things.

Of all the things we can teach our children, we must teach them to be kind, thoughtful and compassionate people who will go into the world as confident, articulate and well-rounded adults. After all, some of the most important life lessons cannot be taught in the classroom."

Sarah Mullin is a Deputy Head, author, and Doctoral Research Student. She is also a member of the EA's Secondary Education Committee.

 

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