Dual mode teaching here to stay?

Members say ‘no way’

IEU-QNT Assistant Secretary Brad Hayes looks at what’s been a hot topic for members since the pandemic started: dual mode teaching.

Initially offered during the pandemic when the majority of students were learning from home, parental and employer expectations that it continues post-lockdowns and post-pandemic remain.

Lack of professional understanding

With teacher workloads at an all-time high – the expectation that one teacher can be asked to do the work of two permanently is unsustainable and disrespectful to the profession.

Facing a crisis unlike any experience in their lifetime, members did what was needed to enable students to continue to receive a quality education.

For those who provided dual mode teaching – the majority of students were learning from home.

Now there seems to be a growing expectation from some parents and employers that a teacher can continue to provide such dual mode teaching for a student who may be home unwell or who out of the physical classroom and travelling with their parents.

Media stories and images have perpetuated this idea – with the thought being that this is an “easy” thing to do given today’s technology.

Uniqueness of classroom learning remains

As IEU members know, nothing can replace the physical classroom and onsite learning. The ability to use one’s professional judgement within the classroom and interact directly with a student cannot be replicated online.

No matter what advances in technology, our classrooms remain unique spaces for learning and we need the resources and the time for teachers to be able to focus on what they do best in the classroom – not having to juggle on-site and online delivery of curriculum simultaneously.

Ongoing COVID-19 impacts

The ongoing expectation by some parents and employers of dual mode teaching comes at the same time schools continue to be impacted by staff and student absences due to COVID-19.

While staff and student absences probably peaked in late Term 1, we continue to experience COVID-19 disruptions in our schools and kindergartens.

As always, school staff are handling this situation with incredible resilience and professionalism.

Employers for their part though need to be focused on addressing the workload issues stemming from these disruptions, rather than adding further workload pressures on teachers.

The long-term solution is to better recognise and reward teachers, both in terms of improved salaries, and even more importantly a reduction in the workload pressures that are forcing many teachers to leave the profession they love.

Member action will make the difference

With workloads at an all-time high and the expectation of the continuation of dual mode teaching in many schools, IEU members must unite to make it clear that employers need to be focused on addressing the workload issues stemming from these disruptions, rather than adding further workload pressures on teachers.

The long-term solution is to better recognise and reward teachers, both in terms of improved salaries, and even more importantly, a reduction in the workload pressures that are forcing many teachers to leave the profession they love.

These issues are and will be the focus for IEU collective bargaining negotiations Australia-wide this year.

Together we can have our voice heard and make a difference to protect quality education in our schools.

What you said

We were initially asked only to stream lessons online for students who had COVID-19 or who were isolating as close contacts. Within three weeks we were asked to stream lessons for a student who had been externally suspended.

Some parents are expecting this to be the norm, and the expectations of support provided to students at home for any reason has increased massively.

Some negative implications:

students who are sick feel like they need to beworking online

teachers feel chained to their computers, and teaching quality, relationship building and behaviour management in the classroom suffer considerably

increasingly a feeling that all the teaching you do has to be duplicated and recorded for accountability – little room for the magic of classroom teaching and adaptability and flexibility based on the students in the room.

Teacher, Queensland

Our (current) expectation is single mode; however, some middle leaders (house deans) have expressed to staff that if work can be supplied it would be appreciated during absences.

While in some subject areas this would be no extra effort as they may be teaching using other online platforms such as Google Classroom already.

However, it inadvertently puts the focus/pressure on other subject areas to conform, which has the potential to increase workloads. It may then not be understood by parents why some subjects provide work and others don’t.

This creates an opportunity to draw conclusions about the professionalism of teachers.

Teacher, Queensland

We are expected to provide online PDF learning packs that are put on the parent portal for our class to access. This is a demand from the school leadership – I have had no parent or student requests for schoolwork.

These packs must be uploaded weekly regardless of student absences. Any parent can access these.

These have been uploaded every week since the start of the school year, the only child in my class that has completed the work is a child who has not been absent!

It is a time-consuming task. My non-contact time is used on this task instead of my normal admin work.

As the packs are to align with our weekly plan, we must make a new one up each week.

Given how time-poor our profession already is, adding two hours of content creation each week for packs is unrealistic and unsustainable.

Teacher, Queensland

It is the expectation at my school that every lesson can be magically converted into an online format for ANY student who is absent for any reason including suspension, sick, school refusal or on holidays.

It is then up to the class teacher to keep track of each student and where they are up to, what work they’ve completed – but no support is given to discipline the student if the work is not done.

Teacher, NSW/ACT

We have been expected to provide work for students at home as well as teach in the classroom. This is tricky when teaching a practical class as in-class work is often hands-on, so work-from-home resources have to be created by the teacher with little or no notice. Work at home is meant to be work students can complete with minimal assistance from the teacher. The problem now is when students are at home on a normal sick day or can’t make it to school for another reason (not COVID-19) they are contacting teachers asking for work for their lessons.

Teacher, NSW/ACT

We already had to do this pre-COVID-19 due to the structure of the school timetable etc. You need the right camera, microphone, and to ensure that everyone has appropriate expectations.

Teacher, NSW/ACT

More modifications of work are being asked of me at the moment. I am constantly sending work home to students isolating/quarantining so I’m actually teaching two lessons – one in the classroom and one remotely. This is starting to take its toll and I’m starting to question my profession.

Teacher, Victoria

Despite our school stipulating we won’t run dual-mode teaching, in practice we do.

Uploading lessons and checking in with students isolating is taking a massive amount of time but must be done for reasons of equity and to keep these students engaged. This is over and above the added burdens of NCCD, reporting etc – all of which are worthwhile but add more work!

Teacher, Victoria

There is a need for guidelines around expectations for remote learning. The difference in workload between schools is huge!

Teacher, Victoria