It's been a while, and in some ways, heading back into schools is just as it always has been. My favourite part of my work over the last few years has been working directly with teachers to develop science teaching, and this is exactly the same as it was before the world changed due to COVID-19.
But things are different. In many ways the changes to the way we do things in schools are positive. No one loves wearing a mask, but it does feel as though our heightened awareness about air-transmitted diseases is a good thing - before the masks and hand sanitising, a week like this one would have almost certainly resulted in me needing some down time for the inevitable cough or cold. I don't want to jinx it, but the vast volume of hand sanitiser I and everyone around men is using surely stacks the odds in my favour!
I am also doing my work differently. I am still going through the same process of subject knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge with the primary school teachers I am working with this week, but the process of mapping out the whole curriculum for Secure Science (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Secure-Science-GCSE-Workbook-Intervention/dp/0008492093 - in case I haven't mentioned it today) is a game changer! Pulling out all the key ideas that pupils need to leave school with has made tracking back to the key ideas that teachers need to focus on in primary a doddle. Adding in misconceptions and teaching tips when you've have thought long and hard about them makes planning for primary science a doddle. The teacher book will help primary science leads do this themselves - grab it here: https://collins.co.uk/products/9780008492106. Or, I'd love to get in to work through this like I am here in Haringey today and tomorrow - simply get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org to get booked in.
Perhaps the title of this should be same but different, different, as my final observation is how there seems to be a renewed focus on the connection between school science and real life. The teachers I planned with today were really open to including sustainability within their science teaching as a natural application of the science ideas. This is new and wonderful! Pre-COVID, there just wasn't much interest in anything that is not on the national curriculum, but now we're all more aware of the fragile nature of human life it is suddenly second nature to teach about this explicitly. When we were writing Secure Science we had a number of conversations about the sustainability threads that run through the big ideas of science, and took care to include them as far as we could, but the focus was on the science concepts. It's really exciting to think there is now an appetite for school science to include sustainability applications - do get in touch if you would use this!
It's been a tough old journey to get back to something resembling normality, but the time away has made everyone I speak to appreciate the joy of working in person in schools. There really is nothing else like it, and I can't wait to see how we use what we've learned to make our new normal a better experience, for both pupils and teachers.