Teaching in lockdown

A message to teachers from Charles Tracy, IOP Head of Education

The last few months have probably been the most challenging of your teaching career. As well as shifting, almost overnight, to new ways of teaching and learning, you are faced with huge uncertainties about exam results, long-term planning and when and whether face-to-face teaching will resume for all your students. 

There are, of course, some specific challenges with teaching physics remotely: the lack of access to laboratory practicals and the difficulty in engaging in meaningful dialogues. As ever, teachers have risen to the challenges. The IOP applauds your determination and we have been amazed at your ingenuity – and we are doing what we can to help you.

We have collected some links to recommended resources on IOPSpark. 

We are also continuing to run CPD sessions, albeit in a new format. These online sessions are listed on our TalkPhysics events page. Rather like other forms of web-based interaction, we are learning quickly about what works well. There are genuine advantages: they do not require travel and can take place at different times of the day. Therefore, they can be shorter, more focused and more ad hoc. 

We are hopeful that we can take both the learning and everyone’s new-found facility with the tools into our work beyond the crisis, thereby extending and improving our offer to teachers.

Another positive change within this crisis is the increased media interest in the sciences and scientists. The quality of discussion on current affairs programmes has risen enormously by the inclusion of the likes of David Spiegelhalter and Hannah Fry. It has been a change to hear more from 
spokespeople with a clear scientific basis for their analysis and they have been refreshing in their honesty, clarity and willingness to give straight answers to difficult questions.

It is also the case that physics is playing its part. The astonishing speed with which the structure of COVID-19 became known was a huge achievement. And many manufacturers have retooled to provide respirators and PPE during the crisis. 

We might hope that there is an increase in both the faith that the public puts in its scientists and in the consideration young people give to the sciences when they make their choices about the future.

As ever, but particularly with all the current challenges, those futures are shaped and made possible by your devotion to them, to their education and to physics. We thank you and wish you continued strength, power and leverage to your elbows

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