SATH in Lockdown

It seems most communications we read or receive these days refer to the ‘strange times’ we are in, and although I hate to be cliched, there’s no escaping that these are strange times indeed for SATH members. The SATH committee is working hard to provide much needed support to members, many of whom are feeling isolated, lacking in resources or the expertise to confidently deliver home learning. In this short post, I’d like to point to some resources that may be of benefit.

Just a month before the lockdown, when the world seemed a very different place, we launched a SATH Team. There were a range of reasons for this, chief amongst them the lack of space on the Caitlin Morrison’s wonderful Google drive, and my desire to bring together the best of the drive and Facebook, and allow for professional discussion and sharing materials in one forum. Younger colleagues were also pointing out to me that ‘Facebook is for oldies’, and they wanted to be part of a professional forum that they didn’t associate with dinosaurs like me. The Team has taken off, and at time of writing has over 500 members, with an average of 100 active on any given day. The professional discussion and range of support and advice, including some meeting up virtually for some discussion, has been brilliant. The resources that history teachers have freely and kindly shared have been wonderful – over 46.46GB at the time of me writing this. How generous, and how wonderful to have Scotland’s history teachers working together in such a collegiate way at this time.

Another resource that that has been accelerated owing to the current situation is the resurrected SATH Newsletter. I loved the termly newsletter years ago as a way of feeling more up to date and finding out about opportunities and resources that I wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. It had been my intention, on becoming SATH President, to bring it back at some point, after taking some time to canvass opinion, look carefully at what other newsletters offer, and find people who genuinely wanted to contribute. With the shutting of schools, the need to direct teachers towards relevant materials and resources became more pressing, and we decided to accelerate the newsletter project. After appealing for volunteers (and press ganging a couple), within a matter of weeks our editor Greg Murray had pulled together a broad range of interesting articles as well as a list of resources that will be useful to those looking to make the most of what’s available online at the moment. It may have been rushed, but I’m proud we’ve managed to send something useful out to members on our mailing list at this time.

A wonderful resource that is now available are the old SATH journals, which you can find on this website. Our former President, Chris Mackay, has painstakingly tracked these down, copied them, and created an index of each of these so they can provide additional support to teachers and students at this time. For anyone who hasn’t come across these journals before, you’re in for a real treat. Each journal contains rigorous academic history articles, and often useful pedagogical articles too. These offer a wonderful way to deepen our academic knowledge of what we’re teaching, or inspiration to broaden our horizons a bit. All articles offer an interesting read for its own sake. Some of the articles may also be suitable for sharing with more academic senior pupils. If you’re planning on taking a look, I’d advise you to put the kettle on and make a cup of coffee first – you could be there a while.

As Scottish History teachers have moved to online teaching, this has led to more of us having to get to grips with tools like Microsoft Teams and Google Classroom (whether we wanted to or not!). Both of these platforms offer a lot, and some teachers were experts long before we first heard of Covid-19. However a lot of us were not, and it has been a steep learning curve for many. My SATH Committee colleague, Samantha Horne, kindly wrote a guide to Google Classroom, and I wrote a (very) basic guide to Microsoft Teams for those just setting out. These were initially intended for the newsletter, although since that was becoming more like a journal the closer it got to publication, we decided to move the guides online. You can access them here.

As the situation in schools continues, and perhaps evolves in coming months, SATH will continue to provide a forum for discussion (Facebook), a place where you can find materials (Teams) and hear about new ideas and resources (Twitter and the new Instagram account). We will continue to work to find new ways of providing the support Scottish history teachers need so much right now. If you would like to contribute in any way, or have ideas or requests, do get in touch by emailing sathmembership@gmail.com

Rebecca Hay

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