Cohorted Cult bring you real-life interviews from those working directly on the front line during the Coronavirus pandemic. Introducing Rhonda, a Primary School Head Teacher working throughout COVID-19. Stay Safe, #StayHome.
1. Background Information: Name, Age, Job Role
My name is Rhonda, I’m 43 and I’m a Head of Primary School.
2. What made you want to become a teacher?
From a young age, I always had the desire to be a teacher. Personal attributes lender themselves to this also. Right from the beginning of primary school, I liked to support others and would often adopt the role of a leader in a situation. I worked within a variety of organisations (St. Johns Ambulance & Girls Brigade) whilst at Grammar School and also volunteered in our school prep which definitely inspired me.
3. What is an average day for your job role?
Prior to the school closures, my job, like many other people in the leadership role of a school, has had different levels to it and has involved working with a variety of staff, pupils, parents and professionals. No two days are ever the same.
4. What is the new reality of working on the front line as a headteacher, in the current climate?
Currently, there isn’t an average day. Every day brings fresh challenges. We are functioning as two entities, one providing Emergency Childcare Provision and the other meeting the educational, emotional and statutory requirements of all pupils: whilst also looking after the staff well-being and directing them. I am constantly getting updates about government requirements and have had to make changes to our provision accordingly. I am extremely fortunate to have an amazing and supportive team at school, who are extremely dedicated and flexible.
5. Have the PPE shortages personally impacted the way you work/people around you?
We are currently not required to wear PPE at the moment. We have worked hard with all our pupils in the provision, to ensure 2m social distancing occurs in activities and at playtimes.
6. What have been the most difficult/personal moments for you?
The initial closure of the school and setting up the provision to work through this. It was like a military operation (which I had not been trained for!). Whilst keeping updated on the vital announcements collectively as a country, we are then having to support parents and staff.
7. Have there been times where you wanted to do more, but have been held back due to lack of resources?
Fortunately, we are lucky as we were well resourced. Staff members were very intuitive and in the buildup to this, ensuring that we had a good stock of any required sanitising stock. This definitely helped us in the long run and took some pressure off trying to source this whilst it was high in demand.
8. With that said, have YOU had any rewarding moments which helps motivate you?
As sad as these times are, we have had moments where we can celebrate things. Parents are sharing photographs and stories of home learning (which always brings a tear to my eye). Having conversations with parents who express their gratitude for everything that the amazing staff are doing helps. Children in our provision are developing skills and learning how to work cohesively on projects, whilst forging new friendships.
9. How has this pandemic influenced your home life?
As I am in work full time, I endeavour when I get home, ensuring I’m not bringing work home. However, there is always a string of emails to get through and tasks that I was unable to complete in the working day. Plus, the daily government updates, Local Council updates, Department for Education updates all must be read. I tend not to endeavour to go to shops after work, as the queues are pretty long, so I rely on my husband to do our weekly shop.
10. What do you do to maintain your self-care routine, to encourage relaxation at the end of the day?
One of my current ways to relax is to cook our evening meal when I get home, with my favourite tunes on in the background. I also love quiz programs, so will watch Tipping Point and the Chase (which I have now started to record). I am also extremely lucky, as I have a good support network of friends and we tend to connect at night and generally have a laugh/heart to heart/rank. I know that I need to include an exercise routine in the evening but that doesn’t happen – something to consider for another time maybe.