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Teacher Talks: Bal Sohal

Updated: Aug 22, 2020

The end of another school year has rolled around, yet it is safe to say that it looks and feels nothing like it has done in previous years. Schools closed their physical doors to students in March leading to various approaches of online learning being trialled, however, the lack of contact with their friends and teachers impacted not only education, but also student wellbeing.

I caught up with a number of school teachers at the start of the summer holiday to get their views on the past term of schooling during lockdown, and returning to the classroom in September. I interviewed Bal Sohal, a secondary school English teacher for all year groups, around 3 key areas: student and teacher challenges during lockdown, views on returning to the classroom and the struggles that teachers may face in supporting their students going forward.

Student and teacher challenges during lockdown

Bal teaches at a multicultural school, with students from a range of ethnicities and backgrounds. This, of course, has its advantages for diversity, however supporting students and parents who have English as an additional language has been far more challenging online. "When we have face to face lessons you can always check if everyone understands the work, but now with us uploading resources to a portal it's harder to be sure."

Another issue is the clear lack of equity as not all students have access to a laptop, or are forced to share one device with multiple siblings. When asking one of her students why they had not submitted any work, he responded, “Miss, where am I supposed to work?” Even with access to devices, finding a quiet space to work has been a challenge for some students who are at home with many family members.

Views on returning to the classroom

Bal’s school has already started preparing to better equip teachers for the new school arrangements. Teachers will receive 4 INSET days as opposed to the traditional 2 days, with additional social distancing and fire safety training.