As we progress, remote working, learning, and teaching have become the “new” normal for large parts of the world and our knowledge increases on what that entails.
We previously covered how to keep your students motivated in online classes, how we can stay focused when working from home and what we should consider before conducting online classes. Since this was an unprecedented situation for most of us, our experiences of working remotely for a long time were limited. The fact that it was impossible to estimate how long this new situation will last also made it hard to know how it will affect less tangible parts of a class: the wellbeing of students and teachers alike.
Based on rather subjective research of asking my teacher friends on how they survive their crazy schedules, the answer always was: “I love my job”. One friend added that “if you are not passionate about being a teacher, you should never be one”.
An article published on Edutopia, earlier in May confirms this. Pete Barnes, a fifth-grade science teacher in New Albany, Ohio, explains that he gets “to know kids in 100 little moments throughout each school day. These little moments are the ones we all are missing—they drive us at work every day through all the chaos.”
Now that these moments are missing from the teachers’ lives, it is incredibly important to be proactive to avoid burnouts in the teaching staff and to ensure the students’ wellbeing without the daily social interaction.
As explained in the same article on Edutopia and in multiple of our blog posts, a functioning routine is ESSENTIAL. As a teacher, make sure to have “office hours” and not be available 24/7 for your students and parents alike.
Create a schedule with fixed hours for teaching and more flexible hours for grading, feedback, talks and make sure to keep them consistent. This is really important as it not only gives you a structure but everyone else too. Marissa King, a teacher and K-12 professional development consultant in Tulsa, Oklahoma advises to group “related tasks together: Instead of sending one email at a time, for example, block off a set time in your schedule to answer all new messages at once.” (Source: https://www.edutopia.org/article/curbing-teacher-burnout-during-pandemic)
As 2020 has been an intense year so far, physically and mentally, make sure to acknowledge that and give yourself some credit and time for breaks. There is this quote circulating on social media which says “you are not working from home: you are at home during a crisis trying to work” which is spot on. Remind yourself of that, whenever needed!
As we now have moved past the “working around the clock” – phase, taking care of yourself, your health and slowing down is so important.
Another huge shift for many teachers and students (as well as any worker) is the lack of motion during the quarantine. I remember talking to a colleague, a former teacher, who said he moved around 10k to 15 k steps per day as a teacher as opposed to some hundred steps per day in an office. This experience is shared by many teachers working from home now. So make sure to incorporate movement into your day, take a walk before and/or after work, to physically wrap up the day and avoid sitting in the kitchen or have loads of snacks lying around. (Source: https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/how-to-work-from-home-without-gaining-weight)
Doctors advise to get up and move for 15 minutes every two hours, and many gyms are currently offering free training, plus YouTube has a ton of great workout videos for free. Training is scientifically proven to be beneficial for your mental health, is great for your sleep and overall well-being so make sure it is part of your so-called new routine.
Another big part of your well-being as a teacher is good communication with the parents of your students. We conducted an interview earlier this month (which will be released soon) with Ingela Netz, the principal at Parkskolan, a Swedish elementary school. She said that she started to release videos about the upcoming week on Sunday evenings, aimed at the parents of her students explaining what they should prepare for /think of and how the week will look like. Since the release of the videos, emails from parents who missed the information were basically non-existent. This is especially great as according to Netz, there were many emails from parents when the information was sent out solemnly via email. They also created a simple Google Site for students, teachers and parents as they had to get information out to everyone quickly.
Having parents on board with your schedules and plans will lift a huge weight from your shoulders, so make sure to involve them in your routines.
All in all, this is an extremely testing time for everyone with a particular hardship on teachers that despite everything keep going and educate the future generations. We hope this helps you structure your routine and, more importantly, feel you are not alone when you are stressed, tired and overwhelmed. You are doing a tremendous job and need to keep in mind that balance is the only way that will help you in the long run.
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