Keeping Busy During Lockdown - A Teacher's Perspective

Lockdown was tough for all of us and impacted every household in one way or another. The wellbeing of school leaders, education staff, teachers and pupils was greatly affected due to the closure of schools and uncertainty of gaining normality. The past year will not be forgotten, we will all remember what it was that kept us going every day and how we managed to stay positive throughout. A Primary school teacher in Kent tells his story of what he did to keep going in a time of worry.  

   I’ve a lot to be thankful to Kent Teach for, as I got my last two jobs through them! Alas, my last one finished at Christmas as it was long-term maternity cover near Rochester. Any jobs in January, February and March? You know the answer. How could I keep well and sane during lockdown and no pay? Luckily, quite a while ago I had already placed a book idea to a publisher about my former life before I became a teacher; I didn’t think they would like my submission, fortunately they did like it but it needed to be improved and finished off, which was difficult with all that marking…

   I left school with no qualifications (that’s another story), but somehow managed to get a job at Harrods as a trainee piano tuner and technician in their piano workshop, which was hidden from the opulent building their wealthy clientele saw. It took a long while, but I would eventually be servicing the pianos of some of those rich and famous customers. The job would also take me into schools occasionally, which was very interesting because some of the schools were ordinary state schools and others public schools (oxymoron schools because they aren’t really open to the public). When in these schools attending to pianos for concerts or doing repairs (and long before the days of long-winded DBS checks), I often thought to myself, ‘I wouldn’t mind being in front of kids and inspiring them’ – it happened eventually and I was able to follow a similar path to my late father, who taught music in Kent schools (I was born in Birchington). 

   But going back to keeping safe and well, they say there’s a book in everyone, right? Sitting at home twiddling my thumbs wasn’t for me, I felt I needed a project. During the first lockdown, although I was at home for most of it, I was kept busy marking my class children’s home learning (and later on coming in to teach a bubble class). I also wrote a daily class blog for them, then towards the end started to add a daily chapter on our class book we’d been reading before lockdown, Paddington Bear. Only it wasn’t quite Paddington Bear. The story ran closely to the original script but I changed certain key features and characters’ names so that it linked to our local environment. My Paddington was called Rochester Bear because he was found on Rochester Station. I think he’d come all the way down the river Medway from a place called Maidstone. The children would begin to notice that their own names began to crop up in the story (I made sure everyone, by the end of the story, was included – even my TA turned out to be the grumpy taxi driver who was moonlighting).

   Now coming up-to-date, in the latest lockdown I decided to use my time carefully and see if I could polish up that book about my time at Harrods. I felt you need to keep positive in these situations, and if you have forced free time on your hands, why not use it constructively (remembering there are always people having a much harder time than you). So apart from taking daily exercise and eating sensibly, I made a point of having a daily slot to apply myself and polish up my book. Having set this routine in place, I found it really helped fill the day and I had the knowledge that I was getting closer to actually getting the book finished. 

   Sticking to the routine helped to keep my head clear of unwanted negative thoughts, and my project has paid off as the book will be published at the end of May by the Book Guild; for anyone interested, it’s not titled Steve the Tuner, nor Steve the Teacher, but The Man from Harrods. If I learnt anything, it was keep busy, do positive things, have a routine and, best of all be creative, whether it’s writing, playing an instrument or using a new medium in art…

   If you would like to find out about a Headteacher’s encounter during lockdown try “Leading in a Pandemic - A Headteacher's Perspective”. The Headteacher at Shoreham Village School expresses the challenges they faced and the impact on pupil engagement whilst home schooling. She goes on to detail their learnings on how to improve for the future. 

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