COVID-19 has created unprecedented changes to how teachers and their students are finishing the 2019-2020 school year. Almost overnight we’ve moved from face-to-face classes to a distance learning environment. Even though you don’t get to physically see your students every day, they need you to guide them, provide structured assignments, and be a resource until schools reopen and resume. As stressful as this past week (or more) has been for you, students, and parents, there are things you can do to ease into a new routine and support your students learning from home. (Fun fact: The pictures in the article are from some of our PLS team members, hope you enjoy them!)
7 Work From Home Best Practices for Teachers
- Establish a Dedicated Workspace. If you have an established home office, you have an advantage over many trying to make the switch to remote work. If not, that’s ok too! Carve out a temporary, dedicated workspace that you can use for the next several weeks or months. Turn one end of your dining room table into a desk, or invest in a folding card table and office chair that you can set up in your living room. What is critical is having an ergonomic place to sit comfortably to read, grade papers, and work at your computer.
- Stick to Your Schedule. It can be challenging to maintain a healthy work-life balance when you work in the same place where you live. To both keep your workdays structured and ensure you’re not overworking all the time, try to stick to your regular schedule. If you are typically at school from seven a.m. to three p.m., use those as your workday hours. When three o’clock rolls around, put your classroom work and grading away, move to another part of your home, and participate in a favorite hobby or activity like biking, cooking, yoga, or reading. Don’t forget to take weekends off too.
- If You’re a Parent, You May Need to Adjust Your Schedule. If you have small children at home, you may have to have realistic expectations and work when they’re napping, sleeping, or occupied (see Leo playing with play-dough on the right). For those with older children, try to set family work hours, so that everyone is completing his or her own work at the same time. If you have a spouse or partner who is also at home, take turns watching the kids so that you can turn your focus and attention to your work.
- Don’t Forget to Take Breaks. Even though you are working from home, your work will still be mentally straining, and you’ll need the same number of breaks you take throughout the day when you’re at school. Step away from your desk during lunch. Move to another part of your house, or eat outside if weather permits to get some fresh air and sunshine. Keep eating healthy, drink enough water, and get regular exercise. Right now you can focus on individual types of activities such as running or biking outdoors, practicing yoga in your home, or walking your dog (he’ll thank you too).
- Stay Organized. Bring the same organizational system you use in the classroom into your home. Keep your papers in class- or subject-specific folders, purchase some necessary home office supplies like highlighters, red pens, and notebooks so that you feel like you have everything you need to keep working in the manner in which you are comfortable.
- Maintain Connections with Students. Many young people and adults are missing their face-to-face contact with friends, co-workers, and mentors right now. Maintain your relationship with your students by posting short video messages for them or online lessons / tutorials. This small gesture, especially for younger students, will keep them feeling connected to their school, their classroom, and you at a time when many are feeling unsure and isolated. Some teachers are even setting up Zoom or Skype sessions where students can get together online. For younger students read them a book, for older students discuss a book that you’re reading as a class. The possibilities are endless and the social mental health boost from online interactions is priceless!
- Check In Regularly With Your Fellow Teachers. Chances are things that are challenging you might also be challenging them. Talk, connect, brainstorm together to move past challenges together. Schedule a Friday virtual happy hour or coffee club to support one another!
As a nation and a world, this situation is temporary and will pass. Until then, by working diligently to adapt to remote work, maintaining a work-life balance, and staying healthy, we all stand the best chance of making this virus an unfortunate part of our collective history so that we can get back to the people and things that we love.
How can we help?
Is there any topic that you’d like us to cover in our blog? We are working hard to connect our teachers with valuable resources and support during this time. Please email us or comment below. Thank you!