“If you’d have said ‘remote teaching’ to me a year ago, I suspect an image would have come to mind of some ‘remote’ stereotypically stern Victorian schoolmaster! I would have found it amusing to imagine myself as a remote teacher one year on, at this very moment. And yet here I am, ‘remotely teaching’, one year on!

To be honest, I personally dislike the term ‘remote teaching’, because we as educators are working hard to make our teaching as accessible as possible. We might be geographically remote from most of our students most of the time, but we are seeking to be educationally and emotionally present, so that we are approachable and not distant and inaccessible to our students.

Online education presents a unique set of challenges. Behaviour management in schools for example is often about encouraging over-enthusiastic students to focus. Online, on the other hand, the challenge tends more to be about encouraging students to more proactively engage in their learning.

Already, people are starting to worriedly speculate about a ‘lost generation’ who are struggling to access conventional education. Certainly there are genuine concerns about disparities between those who are coping, and those who are being ‘left behind’. The concern for us as educators must be that we don’t just ‘dumb down’ what we would normally have taught in the classroom.

Instead, we must strive to ‘level up’, not as some empty political slogan, but as a moral imperative to be equitable in our teaching delivery. This doesn’t require a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Instead, we must offer the right balance of challenge and accessibility to all our students.

Certainly, these are sobering and difficult days. But I am hopeful that as educators and students alike, we won’t get lost in despair at the situation we’re in. Instead, we will seek to make the best of the days in which we find ourselves. 

If previous generations have found strength in the midst of great adversity, I like to think that even my generation and those that follow will not be branded as ‘lost’ by future historians, but will find genuine hope in the midst of the darkness. I believe that the idea that ‘all will be well’ doesn’t have to be an empty phrase, but can be true for us, if we don’t misplace our confidence.”

Robert Chamberlain, Secondary History Trainee Teacher