Is social distancing easy? Plus, how you're still doing your job without schools...

Welcome to our weekly blog for Teacher Tapp Ghana!

Every Monday we summarise our most surprising and interesting survey findings from the week before. This weekly blog provides an easy way for you to learn about the experiences and opinions of teachers across Ghana.

Please encourage your colleagues to use the Teacher Tapp app to keep engaged with education even when they’re not teaching. Your responses are also a vital data source that GES will be using to help in their decision-making around best policies and approaches to managing the current crisis.

If you’d like to bring more teachers to Teacher Tapp, please share this blog with your colleagues and encourage them to use the download links at the bottom of the page. In the mean time, here are this week’s intriguing findings…

1. Social distancing is surprisingly easy?!

With a total lockdown for Greater Accra announced over the weekend, social distancing is now a fact of life for many of you in Ghana.

What’s been your experience of it so far?

According to a poll we conducted at the end of last week, 70% of you are finding social distancing surprisingly easy to do!

We should emphasise that this poll was conducted before stricter measures on social distancing were imposed. This means that we may get a very different answer to the same question if we ask it in one week’s time!

It is also worth adding that we did not provide a clear definition ‘social distancing’ in the question. This matters as ‘social distancing’ has different definitions. For many, ‘social distancing’ is understood as avoiding physical contact with others (e.g. handshakes) and avoiding large gatherings (such as concerts or communal worship).

However, the definition used by the World Health Organisation involves all individuals staying at home unless shopping for food or medicine and remaining two metres apart from any other person. This definition makes social distancing much more difficult.

As Ghana moves from the more relaxed understanding of social distancing to the stricter version, you might start to find social distancing more difficult. This is especially the case due to how social and communal Ghanaian culture is. However, social distancing will help stop the spread of COVID-19 and could save hundreds of thousands of lives. So, no matter how difficult it is, you know what you need to do!

2 . Who have you been speaking to without school?

With 90% of schools in the world closed, there are currently millions of teachers who are missing their colleagues and students.

But both groups can still be reached through the power of technology. Have you been reaching out to them?

A massive 96% of you have spoken to at least one of your colleagues since schools closed. Meanwhile, in the same time period nearly two thirds of you have been in touch with at least one student.

Keeping in touch with colleagues is vital for continuing to plan lessons and think about teaching. It will also help keep you sane by speaking to others who are having the same experiences.

Talking to students, however, is even more important.

Just after schools closed, more than a third of you told us you were worried that many of your students would not return to school when it reopens. This is especially the case with students from poorer backgrounds. Such students may take up dangerous paid work during the school closure. Research from the Centre for Global Development also suggests that one of the main incentives for poorer students to participate in schooling is access to free meals.

With a third of schools that usually provide meals having no plans to do so during school closures, there are a lot of students who risk becoming disengaged from schooling.

So how can you keep them engaged? Simple – keep in touch with these students and their families!

This engagement will keep an open line of communication to keep monitoring students and encouraging them to return to school after the closures. You can also continue to provide work that might keep students academically engaged.

3 . Computer science to the SHS Curriculum?

Education will go on after COVID-19. Hence, we’ve been asking some general questions about your other attitudes to education.

We wondered what subjects you’d like to see added to the Senior High School curriculum. Although it’s already fairly full, you were most enthusiastic about adding computer programming and psychology to the subject list.

Your interest in making students more computer literate has come up several times in our surveys. The difficulty is that running computer programming courses in a school requires lots of computers. And computers require lots of…money.

But what if there were methods of teaching students computer programming without computers? This link here lists mobile apps that students can use to learn computer programming. You’ve told us previously that nearly all of your students have access to a mobile phone with internet at home. Perhaps this could be a good project to set them while they’re out of school?

Psychology is an interesting subject for people of all ages. After all, one of our main interests in life is other people! Psychology is also one of the most popular SHS subjects in the UK so there is often interest in it among young people. Indeed, research shows that adolescents are particularly interested in learning about human thought and behaviour as they figure out how to make their way in the world.

Is there a way of integrating psychology into your general subject teaching? Perhaps there is! These links here cover resources you can use in your lessons or even send to your students.

4. Finally, we know you’re finding our daily readings useful, so here are all of the ones from last week…

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