Revival City College


School Profile: Revival City College

Karen van den Oever

One Year of Lockdown.

2020 – 2021 will go down in the annals of history as the years which changed life as we know it. As an educational institution, we at Revival City College have seen the effects, both positive and negative, on all individuals involved in the college as well as on education as a whole.
In most instances, educators entered the profession because of a love for children and a sense of feeling called to make a difference in the lives of others. From an emotional perspective, it has been quite evident that teachers have taken great strain due to the impact of COVID on education and the closing of schools. Not only have they had to learn overnight how to become tech savvy and change teaching styles and techniques to be able to continue delivering quality education, but they have also had to learn presentation skills overnight, that in some instances have taken others years to master
Talking and presenting to a screen, or to faces on a grid, or icons with a child’s initial of their first name displayed on it, could be quite overwhelming and daunting to an individual who has mastered the art of observing body language and interpersonal interaction. COVID has shaken the very foundation of education and teaching as we have known it. Teaching, a profession which has always imposed on the personal life of a dedicated and committed teacher, has now seen the calling weasel its way into the lounges and kitchens and other rooms of educators’ homes in a far more obvious way through the all- seeing screen of the computer.
Teachers in general are people-persons and in most instances school staffrooms are hubs of chatter, with individuals interacting with one another, sharing teaching techniques, specific approaches to challenging individuals and some funny anecdotes of incidents in the class, over coffee and often cake. Unfortunately, COVID has seen the death of the staffroom as a safe and sane haven for educators. Classes now have specifically scheduled breaks allocated in specifically zoned areas where educators have had to join their classes for break, in order to ensure the correct social distancing is being adhered to. COVID has thus robbed staff of the opportunity to interact with one another within the safe confines of the staffroom, allowing them a few moments of adult interaction during a stressful day of teaching. It has also robbed the learners of the opportunity to build friendships outside of their classes, thereby robbing them of developing the crucial social skills they should be developing.

Teachers in general are people-persons and in most instances school staffrooms are hubs of chatter, with individuals interacting with one another, sharing teaching techniques, specific approaches to challenging individuals and some funny anecdotes of incidents in the class, over coffee and often cake. Unfortunately, COVID has seen the death of the staffroom as a safe and sane haven for educators. Classes now have specifically scheduled breaks allocated in specifically zoned areas where educators have had to join their classes for break, in order to ensure the correct social distancing is being adhered to. COVID has thus robbed staff of the opportunity to interact with one another within the safe confines of the staffroom, allowing them a few moments of adult interaction during a stressful day of teaching. It has also robbed the learners of the opportunity to build friendships outside of their classes, thereby robbing them of developing the crucial social skills they should be developing.Teachers in general are people-persons and in most instances school staffrooms are hubs of chatter, with individuals interacting with one another, sharing teaching techniques, specific approaches to challenging individuals and some funny anecdotes of incidents in the class, over coffee and often cake. Unfortunately, COVID has seen the death of the staffroom as a safe and sane haven for educators. Classes now have specifically scheduled breaks allocated in specifically zoned areas where educators have had to join their classes for break, in order to ensure the correct social distancing is being adhered to. COVID has thus robbed staff of the opportunity to interact with one another within the safe confines of the staffroom, allowing them a few moments of adult interaction during a stressful day of teaching. It has also robbed the learners of the opportunity to build friendships outside of their classes, thereby robbing them of developing the crucial social skills they should be developing.Teachers in general are people-persons and in most instances school staffrooms are hubs of chatter, with individuals interacting with one another, sharing teaching techniques, specific approaches to challenging individuals and some funny anecdotes of incidents in the class, over coffee and often cake. Unfortunately, COVID has seen the death of the staffroom as a safe and sane haven for educators. Classes now have specifically scheduled breaks allocated in specifically zoned areas where educators have had to join their classes for break, in order to ensure the correct social distancing is being adhered to. COVID has thus robbed staff of the opportunity to interact with one another within the safe confines of the staffroom, allowing them a few moments of adult interaction during a stressful day of teaching. It has also robbed the learners of the opportunity to build friendships outside of their classes, thereby robbing them of developing the crucial social skills they should be developing.Teachers in general are people-persons and in most instances school staffrooms are hubs of chatter, with individuals interacting with one another, sharing teaching techniques, specific approaches to challenging individuals and some funny anecdotes of incidents in the class, over coffee and often cake. Unfortunately, COVID has seen the death of the staffroom as a safe and sane haven for educators. Classes now have specifically scheduled breaks allocated in specifically zoned areas where educators have had to join their classes for break, in order to ensure the correct social distancing is being adhered to. COVID has thus robbed staff of the opportunity to interact with one another within the safe confines of the staffroom, allowing them a few moments of adult interaction during a stressful day of teaching. It has also robbed the learners of the opportunity to build friendships outside of their classes, thereby robbing them of developing the crucial social skills they should be developing.

It is believed that children are more resilient than adults and are able to adapt in most situations much easier than adults are. Yet the impact of COVID on our learners has been quite astounding. The return to the college of the learners after the initial 3 months of lockdown in June 2020, filled the corridors and classes with an eerie silence which took teachers by surprise. It seemed to us that the learners had forgotten how to communicate verbally. The usual noise of the classes was filled with a quietness and a sense of fear and apprehension, which was quite tangible. It took the learners quite a while to once again ‘find their voices’ – thankfully at present they are once again quite vocal!
Our learners, who had been involved with online teaching and learning since March/April 2020, showed many signs which astounded us when they returned to face-to-face teaching and learning in June 2020. In general, we found that posture was a problem – was this due to too much couch time? Slang and a casualness in communication, which had never been evident before, was now evident. Learners’ reading ages, which had been tested at the end of 2019, were retested only to find in general a regression of at least 8 to 12 months. It seemed as though educators needed to go back to basics such as writing against the margin, using a ruler and writing a date above a piece of work, etc. On following up with other schools and doing research on international trends after lockdown and the return to face-to-face teaching and learning, we discovered that these were common factors identified by all educational institutions.
Parents who had been thrown into the turmoil of having to work from home whilst having to ‘home school’ were not ready for all this would entail. In some homes there may not have been the access to multiple PC’s, and cellphones had to be used to try to assist children to gain access to lessons. Parents found they were spread thin trying to assist more than one child with schoolwork whilst having at the same time to meet deadlines for their own work. Working from home in many instances invaded on their personal time and family time, as many parents found they were working longer hours. Areas of their lives which may in the past have been quite specifically defined, now had all boundaries blurred.

Teachers in general are people-persons and in most instances school staffrooms are hubs of chatter, with individuals interacting with one another, sharing teaching techniques, specific approaches to challenging individuals and some funny anecdotes of incidents in the class, over coffee and often cake. Unfortunately, COVID has seen the death of the staffroom as a safe and sane haven for educators. Classes now have specifically scheduled breaks allocated in specifically zoned areas where educators have had to join their classes for break, in order to ensure the correct social distancing is being adhered to. COVID has thus robbed staff of the opportunity to interact with one another within the safe confines of the staffroom, allowing them a few moments of adult interaction during a stressful day of teaching. It has also robbed the learners of the opportunity to build friendships outside of their classes, thereby robbing them of developing the crucial social skills they should be developing.Teachers in general are people-persons and in most instances school staffrooms are hubs of chatter, with individuals interacting with one another, sharing teaching techniques, specific approaches to challenging individuals and some funny anecdotes of incidents in the class, over coffee and often cake. Unfortunately, COVID has seen the death of the staffroom as a safe and sane haven for educators. Classes now have specifically scheduled breaks allocated in specifically zoned areas where educators have had to join their classes for break, in order to ensure the correct social distancing is being adhered to. COVID has thus robbed staff of the opportunity to interact with one another within the safe confines of the staffroom, allowing them a few moments of adult interaction during a stressful day of teaching. It has also robbed the learners of the opportunity to build friendships outside of their classes, thereby robbing them of developing the crucial social skills they should be developing.Teachers in general are people-persons and in most instances school staffrooms are hubs of chatter, with individuals interacting with one another, sharing teaching techniques, specific approaches to challenging individuals and some funny anecdotes of incidents in the class, over coffee and often cake. Unfortunately, COVID has seen the death of the staffroom as a safe and sane haven for educators. Classes now have specifically scheduled breaks allocated in specifically zoned areas where educators have had to join their classes for break, in order to ensure the correct social distancing is being adhered to. COVID has thus robbed staff of the opportunity to interact with one another within the safe confines of the staffroom, allowing them a few moments of adult interaction during a stressful day of teaching. It has also robbed the learners of the opportunity to build friendships outside of their classes, thereby robbing them of developing the crucial social skills they should be developing.Teachers in general are people-persons and in most instances school staffrooms are hubs of chatter, with individuals interacting with one another, sharing teaching techniques, specific approaches to challenging individuals and some funny anecdotes of incidents in the class, over coffee and often cake. Unfortunately, COVID has seen the death of the staffroom as a safe and sane haven for educators. Classes now have specifically scheduled breaks allocated in specifically zoned areas where educators have had to join their classes for break, in order to ensure the correct social distancing is being adhered to. COVID has thus robbed staff of the opportunity to interact with one another within the safe confines of the staffroom, allowing them a few moments of adult interaction during a stressful day of teaching. It has also robbed the learners of the opportunity to build friendships outside of their classes, thereby robbing them of developing the crucial social skills they should be developing.

In many instances parent proved to be poor ‘home schoolers’ not because they did not care or were not bothered about their children’s academic progress, but rather because they were so thinly spread and had to prioritise in order to ensure that during this threatening time they would still have job security. Working from home had its own pressures – the lack of WI-FI, the restriction of resources such as printers, computers, work space, etc. As a result, educators who had put so much work into preparing online lessons and worksheets found that when learners returned to the college, they had in many instances to reteach work to ensure that the basics were understood and covered. A new appreciation developed for teachers amongst the parents, whilst on the flipside educators who had been thrown into the role of being both parent and educator from home, learnt to appreciate the parents and the ways they were trying to help their children more too.
Our drive-through workpack collection days became a highlight for staff who were starved for contact with parents. As educators, contact and interaction with the parents of the learners we teach has always been seen as crucial to the success of education. Lockdown and social distancing, as well as the college being a ‘no go zone’ for all outsiders, parents included, has resulted in us feeling distanced and disconnected from our children’s parents.

The curriculum has had to be relooked at and ‘looping’ has been introduced at our college where subject content and skills of one year has been carried over into the next grade in order to ensure that learners have not been disadvantaged academically. Lessons on emotional wellness and on how to cope with different stressors has become the order of the day right from Grade R. Daily check-ins on the emotional standing of the learners and of the staff has been prioritised and the focus, in general, of our teaching has moved even more from content to skills and from quantity to quality. Perhaps this is something which should have been forced on education a long time ago.
This new ‘normal’ is becoming our ‘present normal’ and mask wearing, no hugs, no sharing of equipment, keeping roughly 2 metres away from others, sanitising every 30 minutes, and walking with ’superman arms’ is now no longer a novelty, but it seems to have become second nature.
COVID has forced us as individuals and as a College, to relook at our priorities and to refocus on what our vision for our learners, our college and ourselves really is. As a Christian College we know that this period has not taken God by surprise and we believe that all things work together for good for those that love the Lord and are called by His name. In the light of this, we are focusing on the good, on the lessons learnt, on appreciating what we have and who we have in our lives. We have been acutely aware of God’s provision for us during this challenging time and we are grateful that we are in His hands. With this knowledge, we have a security that passes all human understanding during this time of turmoil. We believe that we will look back in the future and be able to say that COVID taught us much and through this process we have become better people and better educators in particular.