Many of us were caught by surprise by school closures and the rapid transition to distance learning via technology in the spring. Some teachers took to it like a fish to water, and some really struggled with the challenge. I imagine most of us fell somewhere in the middle. It might be time to stop thinking of teaching from home as temporary and lean into how to make distance learning work best for everyone.
Here are some self-care tips to help you get the most out of whatever schedule your district is using.
1. Get organized!
It can be difficult to manage working in your home space. Make sure you designate a teaching space where you can keep your supplies and teach lessons, including material files and student records. Don’t scrimp on the “teachery” things you USED to use to manage your day – your planner and lesson plans are still your best friends. They function to provide structure that help you stay motivated with a clear vision of what you need to get done. Continue to prepare ahead of time and you won’t be stressed about what comes next.
2. Explore your options.
Few things are worse than teaching a lesson or assigning an app, website, or program for the first time only to find there are kinks or complications that come up WHILE you’re teaching. Or, better yet, your inbox fills up with emails from stressed parents. Ugh! Whatever components of distance learning are mandated by your district or you choose to incorporate, make sure you go through all of the processes ahead of time to make sure the technology works, students can log in, and there aren’t any surprises.
3. Stick to a schedule.
Perhaps the hardest part of working from home is the ease with which you can just work all the time. Boundaries are essential as a teacher at school, but also as a teacher from home. Teaching is not a 9 to 5 job, but that means you need to make sure you intentionally balance all of the important portions of your life.
3a. Don’t forget the treats!
Whatever little pleasures kept you going at school during the school day, allow yourself to keep indulging. Granted, as glass of wine with lunch is not a good idea, but those little squares of chocolate or cups of coffee are actually important self-care rituals that work on many levels.
4. Get up and MOVE.
Teaching honestly seems like a pretty sedentary job. The biggest surprise for me transitioning to teaching from home washow absolutely still your body is, sitting in a chair talking to a computer. It really made me appreciate those long walks to the bathroom, to the teacher lounge, or just around the classroom while teaching. Schedule movement breaks for yourself to stretch, do some yoga, or run on the treadmill to keep the blood flowing. Movement breaks WITH your class can be great, too, and there are a ton of great sites like Go Noodle to facilitate getting the wiggles out. But don’t forget about your own, grown-up needs to move.
Chances are that things look vastly different from district to district across the country. What isn’t going to change is the need for you to take care of yourself so you can take the best care of your students.