Over the past few months, we have all had to adapt to a different way of working. Our ‘lockdown life’ series asks educators to share their experiences of working from home and their hopes for beyond the crisis.
WE have supported leaders through this change with regular, ongoing virtual meetings for primary leaders, secondary leaders and trust leaders. These have been a chance to share ideas and problem-solve together on the main challenges facing schools.
During lockdown many teachers, leaders and governors have been spending more time working remotely. What’s one thing you can’t work from home without?
Hannah Wilson (HW): Coffee… a note pad…peaceful background music…wifi! Also an open window, I have a thing about letting light and air into my house/ home office.
David Bartram (DB): I’ve found I can’t work at home without making sure I have a long walk every evening – usually around Rickmansworth Aquadrome. Over the last few years I’ve seen too many sunsets from the M1, so it’s been great to enjoy them with the family a little more often.
Jason Scrimshire (JS): My laptop and my whiteboard have been invaluable from a logistical standpoint!
But my comfortable armchair coupled with a cafetiere of coffee have been perfect companions for the numerous virtual meetings I have participated in.
Karen Edge (KE): Shockingly, my nine-year-old! We have been together for all but 7 days of lockdown. We locked down approximately 10 days before schools closed. So, as we enter our week 14 of ‘togetherness’ I have had to convince myself that we are lucky to be safe and have what we need. My work days are mostly work nights and I put in a few solid hours in the day time and then a solid 5-6 hours after he goes to bed. As a solo parent, I don’t even have the luxury of going for a walk on my own. So, I have had to embrace the fact that we are having a good time and we are better off together!
There is also a LOT of coffee and the occasional late night G&T with my sister in law in Canada. I am also incredibly thankful for my brother and sis-in-law and their two boys in Ottawa. They have movie nights (our time) and video game marathons with Isaac so I can work. It is taking a global team to get us through lockdown.
Jim Knight (JK): Aside from the obvious tech, tea and coffee and biscuits – a nice view out of the window!
Sam Twiselton (ST): A scarf! It’s the only way I can stop myself from being completely distracted by my double chin on zoom calls! Even then it only partially works – photo attached.
Alex Beard (AB): I’m locked in a constant battle with the local squirrels. They want to bury nuts, I want to preserve the plants.
What have you been doing to unwind during lockdown?
Lockdown life book recommendations…
KE: One of the most powerful books I have ever read is by former headteacher Pat Sowa and her long-time friend and writer Kerry Fisher. The book tells the story of their very difficult journey of dealing with the illness of their respective sons and the eventual suicide of Pat’s amazing son Dom. I don’t think I have ever cried so much or laughed so much reading a book. It moved me and has changed how I think about mental health. I have brought Pat into a few projects I am working on as her insight as a head, parent and advocate is impressive (A link to the book is here).
AB: Notes on the Apocalypse by Mark O’Connell. If you care about people, the planet or good writing, it’s a must read.
ST: I’m halfway through Normal People by Sally Rooney.
JK: The overstory by Richard Powers, the best novel about trees I have ever read!
JS: The Research-informed Teaching Revolution by Chris Brown, Jane Flood, Graham Handscombe (or Leaders with Substance by Matthew Evans)
HW: I have not read many books but I have read a lot of articles and blogs, listened to a few podcasts and watched a number of live streamed events to deepen my understanding around diversity and inclusion.
Lockdown life: the songs you’ve been playing on repeat…
ST: I’ve been listening to Eva Cassidy a lot – particularly Fields of Gold.
JS: The times they are a-changin‘ by Bob Dylan.
KE: One my favourite songs during lockdown has been Stop This Flame by Celeste.
One that always hits the top of our basketball playlist is Ladbroke Grove by AJ Tracey.
The new hobby…
There’s a racket sports theme…
ST: We play badminton (very badly) in the carpark across the road most evenings.
KE: Ping Pong. I wasn’t thinking clearly when I bought a retractable ping pong net. My 9yo is a fantastic player and I somehow forgot that I was the only other person in the house….for this 2-player game. So, we play a lot of ping pong. My game has ‘weaknesses’ according to my opponent ‘my volley, backhand and complete lack of topspin.’ The critique is delivered with love and advice on how to improve! If I am allowed 2, it would be MarioKart. I am horrible but am very competitive! I will improve!!
JK: I have resumed three 5K runs each week
JS: Growing a small vegetable patch in the garden and lots of cycling (to compensate for the lack of cricket!).
DB: We’ve played an awful lot of table tennis during lockdown. I’ve been trying to train our border terrier to pick up the table tennis balls, but as you’ll see from the photo, it’s not been going too well.
HW: I have blogged every day through lockdown, I have found it cathartic and it has developed my reflections of not only this experience we are living through but also I have embraced the opportunity to pause, to stop, to be still and to refocus.
Next time: what we are learning about leadership during lockdown and what we hope is different after Covid-19.
What’s the best book you’ve read in lockdown? What can’t you work from home without? Share your picks @wholeeducation, #wholeeducation.
Alex Beard is a Senior Director at Teach For All, author of Natural Born Learners and presenter of The Learning Revolution on BBC Radio 4.
Karen Edge is a Reader in Educational Leadership at UCL Institute of Education and recently served as Pro-Vice-Provost (International). Her Global City Leaders Project explored the work, lives and ambitions of Generation X school leaders in London, New York City and Toronto.
Lord Knight is Chief Education Officer at TES, members of the House of Lords, former Schools Minister and Chair of the WE Board.
Jason Scrimshire is Assistant Head of The Winstanley School and Lead Practitioner in Science at Bosworth Academy in the LiFE MAT.
Sam Twiselton OBE is Director of the Sheffield Institute of Education, VP (external) of the Chartered College of Teaching, and member of a number of expert advisory panels including the DfE Carter Review of ITT.
Hannah Wilson recently joined WE as Associate Director. She is a leadership development facilitator and was previously Founding Executive Headteacher of Aureus School and Primary School.