Teachers who were at the forefront of providing free virtual geography lessons for secondary school pupils stuck at home during the Covid-19 pandemic have been awarded medals by the Perth-based Royal Scottish Geographical Society.
The Tivy Education Medal has been presented to a group of volunteers and inspirational teachers, for their collective work during the pandemic.
When Covid-19 struck, there were very limited learning resources for students during lockdown.
RSGS pulled together a small team of teachers and film makers to try and help.
The team created 26 virtual Chalk Talks lessons covering the entire National 5 and Higher Geography curriculum, from glaciers to coasts, cities to deserts, and everything in between.
Collectively, the lessons had a fantastic response, accumulating over 35,000 views on RSGS YouTube, and remain a popular online resource despite restrictions now easing.
Who were the teachers?
The team behind the lessons included Alastair McConnell, Jennifer McLean, Gill Dean, Keith Turner, Alex Wylie, Carl Phillips, Jacqueline Smith, and Shiv Das.
The presentation saw them each awarded medals and RSGS Honorary Fellowship for their “exemplary and inspirational contribution to teaching”.
It also acknowledged their incredible response during the pandemic, taking on extra work to deliver this public resource when so many were already struggling to adapt to the drastic and changing circumstances of the Covid-19 lockdown.
They had many challenges to overcome, not least their own personal adjustment to lockdown and individual workloads, whilst also solving the host of logistical and practical constraints thrown up by Covid restrictions.
The staff from Dollar Academy, Morrison’s Academy, Boroughmuir High School, Speyside High School, and Kilgraston School, were welcomed at a special event at RSGS headquarters in Perth on Saturday by RSGS Board Vice-Chair Professor Ken Muir.
Professor Muir said: “The Chalk Talks free online geography lessons at National 5 and Higher have set the standard for others to follow in providing virtual learning resources in Scottish schools.
“The award of RSGS’s Tivy Medal to the creators of the Chalk Talks recognises their tremendous professional commitment and creativity in supporting geography students and their teachers.
“The high quality and engaging videos they have helped us produce were much used by geography teachers and students during the pandemic, and provide a superb resource as we move to a world of increased digital learning.”
Dollar Academy Head of Geography and Chair of RSGS Education Committee, Alastair McConnell said: “These videos were put together during some of the tightest Covid restrictions, when teachers, parents and pupils were all under the greatest pressure to continue educational provision.
“I hope in some way they eased this burden and that they continue to prove useful as we return to normality.
“I am delighted that the teachers who gave their time have been recognised in this way and I would like to thank all of the RSGS membership who contributed to the fundraising that made this possible.”