From maternity and beyond

I have recently returned to school after a year following maternity leave. I am an ADE, a lead teacher in my school for teaching and learning, I use technology in my classroom daily for learning, as well as creating digital art and photography outcomes with pupils on iPad & Mac.

However, on my first week back in the classroom, I stood in front of my class and had forgotten which symbol I had to press to AirPlay on my Apple TV! I found I had to renavigate drawing apps I have spent the last 8 years using with my classes, I had to learn new ways of working on Photoshop, a software I’ve been using for 17 years. So what happened? I’ve had the term baby brain banded about, I know that your brain structure does change after having a baby, however, I think there is more to this. Technology changes so quickly, for example using Photoshop 2022, the way in which you save a jpeg file has changed, something I am happy to discover while teaching a class as I have built an environment where pupils are open to me learning with them, however what about the teachers who are less tech savvy?

So the reason for this story, is about my realisation of what it must feel like for my colleagues who have struggled to adapt to 1:1 technology in the classroom, those who are reluctant to try that new app, those with ‘no time’ to learn something new. I was in a situation for the first time in my life where I didn’t feel like a digital native, a fear sets in of how can I deliver my lesson, can I still teach like I used to? Should I revert to traditional media for this lesson as it’s more straightforward?

For me, 8 weeks down the line, I am feeling like I am back in control and am already looking for new techniques to develop in my classroom, but the one thing which I think is important and should be discussed is how do we support new parents coming back into the classroom, in particular new mums? How do we help our colleagues find the time to develop and hone new skills?

I personally no longer have time in the evenings to be trying out the latest features on Keynote, I am someone who loves being the first to try something new, but I am fortunate in the sense that I have additional PPA time as head of department where I can develop new skills. I am fully aware this is not a new issue, but having the experience I have had I think it is important to share, I was not expecting to walk into my classroom and feel like an NQT again, I very much had first day of school nerves, I lacked confidence in what I was doing and felt that I had lost the teacher I formally was.

I am still getting to grips with my day to day and have had to be kind to myself to realise my productivity levels and level of organisation I had in place previously will take time to return, my staff have to adjust to me returning too. As we all know a lot happens in a school year. But something I am conscious of doing is thinking more about how I can help that colleague who is struggling with technology? How can I be more sympathetic to their situation? What can I do to empower them and build their confidence?

This is just the beginning of my journey on my return to work but I think we would all benefit from taking some time to speak to each other and find out how we can help each other. I don’t think we hear enough from those returning to work, whether it is from maternity, a bout of illness or a sabbatical from the classroom, we all just knuckle down and think we are the only ones that are struggling. There is power in sharing experiences, we can all learn something from each other.

3 replies

November 07, 2022

I think this is such a great lesson to learn. Sometimes we do forget what it feels like not being comfortable with technology and the feelings teachers experience. I try and volunteer for non tech related things to stay connected with this feeling and show others that I am not asking anything from you, that I have not done myself (i.e. face a new challenge/fear).

November 11, 2022

Being a role model to others is so important isn’t it? Whether it’s our pupils or peers. I’ve taken a similar leap this year, we have to attend a teaching and learning group, rather than the digital innovations group I’ve joined research and development, an area I’m interested in but not one I’ve dived into before.

November 11, 2022

Thank you for sharing your experience and encouraging connection and community! It is so easy to get caught up in our own day-to-day and fail to recognize the ways in which we could all reach out and support one another in our work.

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