Teaching at home via online platforms is not a new phenomenon. Today, we have tutors from India teaching mathematics to students in the USA. Or Spanish teachers taking language classes for students sitting thousands of kilometers away. How do online teachers maintain their well-being? Does it require any special effort or practices?
These questions are important, especially in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic. The closure of schools across the world has led to a sudden increase in students’ number using online schools and platforms. They struggle to complete their academic work, equally teachers who may have been laid off from their international teaching jobs abroad.
There is also a certain amount of trauma and uncertainty faced by both teachers and students regarding their future. Whilst teaching on online platforms, teachers must ensure that they can cope physically and mentally with the sudden challenges that have cropped up in their life.
1. Let Your Work Space Be Sacrosanct:
Select a space in your home and clearly define it as your workspace. It may be just one side of your dining table or a desk in the corner of your bedroom. Working from the same workspace is conducive to quickly hitting a high productivity zone. Shifting your workspace every day can be distracting and may reduce your efficiency.
2. Develop A Routine & Stick To It:
Just because you are teaching at home does not mean that you are not going to work! Set a routine for yourself exactly as you would do if you were going to a school to teach.
Get up at the same time every day. Finish off the chores that you would normally do if you were heading out to school daily at 7 am. Similarly, have a ritual to end your ‘work day’. Tidy up your desk. Jot down the highlights of your day. Give an end-of-the-day call to at least one colleague or friend.
In short, having a structured workday is important for your well-being.
3. Communication Is Important:
One of the negative aspects of teaching at home is that you are cut off from your professional peers. You may find that the time spent communicating with your peers has reduced.
Formal departmental meetings etc., may continue to take place online. But you may no longer indulge in the casual give-and-take and discussions with your colleagues. This can be extremely stressful for teachers who are used to working and interacting with others in a school environment.
One way to deal with the issue is to meet and talk to them, at least virtually. Facetime, Google Hangout, and other apps are perfect for meeting up with colleagues/friends.
4. Balancing Work With Your Family’s Need:
If you have been teaching at home regularly – in the pre-coronavirus world – then you have probably already succeeded in balancing your work requirements with your family’s needs. But newbie online teachers have to make an effort to master this crucial balancing act.
It is not easy because the pandemic means that everybody is mostly confined to their homes. Nerves are raw, and stress levels are high. You may also be fighting over computer time, internet speeds, and sharing of household chores. Children in the family may be distressed and traumatized by the continuing wave of infections relentlessly highlighted by the media 24×7.
Make your family understand that teaching at home requires your entire commitment for a few hours a day. However, for your own well-being, take the time to relax with your family. Be sure to achieve a good balance.
5. Work At Making Online Classes Interactive & Stimulating:
As we commented earlier, you may feel a sense of isolation. Technology has indeed made great strides. The audio and video quality of online platforms is excellent, as we discovered in our Microsoft Teams. Zoom for online teaching. But there is no denying that teaching online brings a sense of remoteness to the profession. The attitude is to take a lesson and move on.
The classroom banter, exchanges, and discussions stimulating to both teachers and students may come down a notch or two while teaching at home via online platforms. We wrote an article not long ago about developing and delivering e-learning techniques that might help make online classes interactive and stimulating. It will give you greater professional satisfaction.
This feeling of fulfillment after an online teaching session is necessary for your mental well-being.
6. Keep Yourself Physically & Mentally Fit:
If you are teaching at home temporarily due to school closures resulting from the pandemic, do not give up on your normal fitness routine. We know that this is not easy when the entire world seems obsessed with statistics related to infections and deaths.
But a fitness routine is vital for your well-being. Obviously, going to a gym is not an option in this age of social distancing. If you are lucky enough to have a garden or park close by, you can start walking or jogging. You can sign up for a Zoom yoga class. Or do the Zumba. If you have a treadmill at home, be sure to spend half an hour on it every day. It would help if you got your endorphins flowing.
A few breathing exercises and mindfulness activities can bring about positivity. Indulge in your favorite indoor activity, whether it is cooking, reading, or listening to music. It will enhance your feeling of well-being.
7. Keep your Eating Under Control:
Teaching at home means that you can munch all through the day on the delicious cake your partner baked! Be careful. There is a tendency to snack more when working from home. Resist all such temptations and stick to your normal diet. Good, healthy eating will make you feel good.
Our Recap To Help Maintain Well-being Whilst Teaching At Home
Teachers working online need to take care of their physical, mental, and social well-being. Even if you are physically present at home, it is important to have a boundary between your work life and family life. Be sure to continue communicating with colleagues and peers. Develop a routine. Teaching online will be more rewarding if you take the time and effort to care for your own well-being.
Got any great ideas or tips for maintaining your well-being? Please share them in the Staff Room teacher forum or add a comment below!