Shaun Keeling: A teaching marathon 'teach-a-thon'

Shaun Keeling, a Primary School teacher who is currently working on his Doctorate at BCU, launches a 24-hour teach-a-thon to support less fortunate children struggling to learn from home without the necessary devices. Shaun, together with his colleague Sam, has pulled together a series of back-to-back classes to raise funds for the local community.

WHO is the man behind the mission?

My name is Shaun Keeling. I am 31, and currently a year leader at Anglesey Primary School, a three/four-form entry school in Lozells, Birmingham, with over 800 children on roll. I am just entering the thesis stage of my doctorate, which will centre around finding 'moments of light' or moments of good within the current pandemic.

I am particularly interested in teacher morality (in the sense of developing the human) and teacher autonomy. I feel this teach-a-thon fits well with my core beliefs and with these aforementioned areas as if teachers are to be moral educators and find 'moments of light' within these challenging times, then we must do all we can to support those in our communities that need it most. The teach-a-thon is just one step towards this goal.

WHAT and WHEN is the teach-a-thon?

In a bid to raise money for the community and to help those struggling to get hold of home-schooling equipment and technology, we decided to put on a fundraising teach-a-thon.

My colleague Sam Jordan and I will both begin teaching on a shared livestream at 9am on 1 February 2021 and will finish at 9am on 2 February 2021. The livestream is available to all, and people are encouraged to watch and message us through live chat.

We have planned specific lessons for the day but there is no formal timetable. We discussed this at length and decided that having more manoeuvrability to extend lessons and change aspects is important (luckily, as teachers, we are good at thinking on our feet). We will use Twitter alongside the broadcast to promote what lesson will follow. After the broadcast, we will draft up a timetable so children can access the stream at certain points and for relevant lessons.

We will be dabbling in a bit of everything, just like primary school teachers do! So, you can expect literacy, numeracy, drama, P.E., ICT, history, art, geography, mindfulness and everything in between. My personal favourite lesson to teach is literacy. I love reading a good book and have dabbled in creative writing myself. I love to share my passion for interesting and unusual language with the children and truly believe that honest drive and enthusiasm from a teacher helps to develop pupils' skills.

WHERE can the teach-a-thon be accessed?

WHY put on the teach-a-thon and HOW will this help the community?

During the first lockdown, we were tasked with delivering provision to children without specific guidelines to do so. Whilst at first overwhelming, it provided teachers with great amounts of autonomy over the curriculum. It allowed us to become savvier with technologies and approaches beyond what is expected in the classroom.

I believe this challenge was met through YouTube videos, online content and by working together to deliver a well-balanced and co-operatively created version of the curriculum. However, one area that was highlighted as a key issue during the first lockdown was the fact that many of the families in our community did not have access to devices to engage in learning. Some families are even without internet. Though the school has provided many devices and internet dongles, there is still a large proportion of our community that finds themselves with no way of engaging beyond work packs that are sent home.

Initially, our target was £1,000. This would help 10 families that cannot engage with online learning and provide vital support for those that require it. However, we have already passed our original goal and we hope to inspire and continue to support as many families in our community as possible.  

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