Lessons in a challenging locked down world

That oft-used term 'Back to School' came with mixed feelings this week. 'Back to Zoom', or 'Back to Google Classroom' is perhaps more appropriate?

Students started Term 2 across NSW but it's hardly a return to normality for them - and likely not for some time still to come.

The final weeks of Term 1 seemed to just merge into school holidays and back out again with barely a shift in thinking. Days blending together in a miasma of Netflix binge watching, iPad games, semi-regular outings to the backyard and trampoline, cabin fever arguments and chocolate.

While parents have likely continued with their work throughout, now it's back to splitting that with attempts at getting children to sit down and focus on reading lists and STEM challenges, even if only for a short while, just try, please...(or is that just me?)

Then again, while challenging, the addition of something (slightly) more structured in this lockdown life is a good thing. It may not be the education we're used to, nor indeed want for our children, but it's temporary and any learning is better than none.

Schools have done an enormous amount of work over the past five weeks (yes it's only been five) and the department, teachers and staff should be commended.

Coordinating hundreds of packets of work, folders filled with material, online resources and hosting multiple video meetings with their students on a daily basis surely came as a massive shock to their system. For those of us used to having video conferences and all their inherent issues, it can only be a sympathetic head shaking experience to listen in to a teacher - themselves working from home - having a chat with 20-odd students.

Then there's the planning for staggered arrival and departure times, coordinating a roster of different classes on different days, and marking out rooms, corridors and playgrounds so returning students maintain appropriate distances. All of that even before the "teaching" begins.

Teachers are renowned for - and should be roundly celebrated for - regularly going above and beyond to educate and nurture our children, working all hours of the day/weekend/holidays for their role.

On a visit to school this week to collect previously mentioned materials for Term 2, some teachers said they would be more than happy to see students return - no doubt the chaotic nature of the past month is taking its toll - on parents and teachers alike.