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‘We want school to be fun again’: A day in a teacher’s life during a pandemic

Peterhead Academy teacher Lynne Greig wants kids to have fun again after a turbulent two years.
Peterhead Academy teacher Lynne Greig wants kids to have fun again after a turbulent two years.

Teachers are trying to “bring the fun back to school” as pupils emerge from the pandemic.

Even when schools reopened last year, many activities remained out of bounds. And with social distancing, even teaching itself wasn’t what any of us would consider ‘normal’.

But as restrictions ease, teachers across the north and north-east are doing their bit to bring the good days back for kids.

Miss Lynne Greig is a biology and digital literacy teacher at Peterhead Academy.

‘An average day doesn’t exist’

The latest teacher to describe her average day for the Press & Journal, she said there is in fact no such thing.

“An average day doesn’t exist,” she said. “Every day is completely different.

“I try to come into school about eight o’clock in the morning. It gives me a chance to get my desk and classroom set up, catch up with colleagues, and make a cup of tea before the day starts.

“At Peterhead Academy, we don’t have registration at the moment because of Covid. Which is a shame because it’s a great opportunity to see the same kids every morning and get to know them. Hopefully that will be coming back soon.”

We tend to associate a teacher’s job with the classroom, but Miss Greig said there is far more to the role.

“I might have some free time in between teaching, but it isn’t really free.

“I’ll be planning lessons, making resources, doing marking, catching up on admin, and grabbing a cup of tea when I can.

“I often do after school support study. Every Tuesday a bunch of my Higher kids come back and do extra study.

“It’s essentially free tutoring, but I love doing it because it really does help the kids.

“I help with after school clubs, with the rugby. And in the past I’ve helped with drama and with Rock Challenge.

“It’s a brilliant way to end your day – seeing kids coming back and wanting to stay.”

‘Their success is my high point’

Despite the hectic nature of the job, the teachers we have spoken to have all been at pains to point out the highlights.

One thing they have all mentioned is the ‘aha’ moment, when children work through a difficult problem and everything clicks.

“This morning I was doing a class with my Third Year. We’d been learning about the structure of the heart, all the veins, the arteries, the names of the chambers.

“Every year, kids struggle with this. My degree is in anatomical sciences so I looked at the nitty-gritty of the heart, and I still struggle with it sometimes.

“I gave them some questions, and every single one of them got them right. It had been a few days since we’d done it, and they didn’t have their notes.

“That was a high point for me, seeing that they’d picked it up so easily, and that they were really enjoying learning.

“Another high point is seeing a kid who has been struggling come back for supported study, someone you wouldn’t expect to see come back.

“It’s just the kids surprising you I think, and doing well.

“Their success is my high point, because that’s what the job is all about – getting them success and getting them qualifications.”

Miss Lynne Greig is a biology and digital literacy teacher at Peterhead Academy.

Life after Covid: Putting the fun back into school

With a good teacher-pupil relationship comes good behaviour. But other challenges aren’t hard to find as a teacher, particularly during a pandemic.

“You obviously hear about behaviour issues, but I don’t really come across many because I think I’ve got a good relationship with my kids,” said Miss Greig.

“It’s about engaging kids that have maybe had a bit of a rough day, they’ve come to you and they’re struggling.

“That’s something I find a bit difficult sometimes. You need to get them onside and onboard with you.

“Right now, the big issues are things like Covid. We are trying our best to make school fun again.

“Last year we had a lot of after school clubs cancelled. We had to socially distance, which meant there were certain things we couldn’t do. Group work was a bit dodgy because of social distancing.

“But with restrictions lifting a little bit, and mitigations like constantly sanitizing our hands and wearing face masks, we are trying to bring fun back to school. So we’ve got after school and lunchtime clubs starting again, and we’re starting to do a bit more interactive stuff in class.”

Short days and long holidays? Think again

We’ve all heard those who think teachers should be grateful for their ‘short days.’ But as Miss Greig explains, the bell indicates when the pupils are done for the day, not the teacher.

“Most people think a teacher’s day finishes when the bell goes, but it absolutely doesn’t,” she said.

“It means I can go home if I want, but I am not finished working.

“I’m in a very lucky position, our school has the budget to give us laptops. So if I have to go home for whatever reason, it means I can continue working from home.

“What we do get when the bell goes is a bit of breathing space. A bit of time to organise yourself. You don’t have kids that need your attention straight away. So it’s a bit more relaxed after the bell goes, but I still continue working.

“There’s assessments to mark, homework to mark, feedback to give kids, lessons to organize for the next day.

“Because I’m a biology teacher, we’ve got requisitions, which means we might have equipment and practicals to organise. So we need to get all that ordered.

“But I will often stay later, just because it makes my life easier.

“My day isn’t half past eight to three o’clock.

“Even at breaktime and lunchtime, I’ve got an open door policy. If I’m sat having a cup of tea in the staffroom, and a kid comes and knocks on the door, I will go and speak to them. It can be quite scary going and speaking to a teacher – I was scared of going and speaking to an adult when I was at school. But I will absolutely give them that time.”

Peterhead Academy

‘My family think I’m mad’

When the detractors have finished with ‘short days’, it’s usually not long before they move on to teachers’ holidays.

It is true that teachers receive more holiday days than most jobs. But even then, they are often working.

“Another misconception people have is that we have all these holidays,” said Miss Greig.

“We don’t. I do work during my holidays, preparing resources and so on.

“My family think I’m mad sometimes, that I’m giving up my holiday.

“I don’t mind, because it makes my job that little bit easier during term time. But it’s not the easy ‘walk in, teach kids, walk out’ people think.

“That’s not what teaching is. It’s not just a job, it’s a career.”

‘The kids are the reason I do this job’

Not every job leaves you feeling amazed on a daily basis.

But Miss Greig said that in her line of work, being blown away by kids is par for the course.

“My favourite thing about being a teacher is the children. They amaze me every day. They astound me.

“Some of the questions they ask make me think – I have to go off and find the answer. Their creativity is amazing.

“The kids are the reason I do this job. They’re the best thing about it, hands down.

“I’ve had kids who have gone off to university, and I’ve met them and the fact that they’re even doing things related to my subject, I just think, ‘you’re doing this – possibly – because of me’. And that’s just amazing.”

More from the Schools and Family team

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‘Expect the unexpected’: A teacher’s day in the Orkney Islands

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