Teacher’s tireless COVID efforts applauded
Monica Ralphs has taught primary school children for 25 years, but all that experience did not prepare her for the challenges of teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Like teachers around Australia who had only days to prepare their children for home learning after the country went into lockdown, the year one/two composite teacher had to quickly learn new skills.
Ralphs had the added pressure of teaching a group of children who did not all have access to computers at home, so she prepared hard copy packs of schoolwork and made sure she kept in touch with each of her young students and their parents, sometimes filming video classes or answering emails until 1am.
She was nominated in the Thanks a Million campaign for her tireless commitment to teaching by colleague Sharon Dekkers at Waraburra State School in Gracemere, west of Rockhampton.
"During that whole period of home schooling, she provided kits and materials for the children to use from home, knowing that we are in a lower socio-economic area and not all children could do online classes or work," Dekkers said.
"All this while still teaching the children of essential workers in class and supporting other teachers and parents."
Ralphs, who admits she wasn't very IT-savvy before COVID-19, had to upskill quickly in order to keep teaching remotely.
Her 14-year-old daughter would help her make videos after dinner that she could upload ready for the next day's classes and she would spend hours communicating with parents and even students by phone and email each day.
"COVID-19 meant we had to learn new things very quickly," the 55-year-old teacher said. "We had to completely change our philosophy on how to teach our children, which is particularly hard when you're talking about engaging with five and six-year-olds who are learning to read and write.
"Keeping contact with the children was very important so we'd send videos saying how much we missed them and reminding them of children's birthdays.
"At the end of the day, it was our job to teach these children in whichever way we could. And we often got lovely messages back of thanks which made it all worthwhile."
Originally published as Rockhampton teacher's tireless COVID efforts applauded