After nine weeks of only seeing my students in little squares on my computer screen, a two week term break, and a final week of online classes, we resumed face to face lessons today. Things were a little bit different than they used to be, though.
The desks were distanced from one another as practically as they could be. The bottle of sanitiser at the front of the room had been joined by another and, this time around, the students didn’t need reminding to use it. Most obviously, though, we were all wearing masks.
We used to talk about “putting our teacher hat on” when we walked into the classroom, and taking it off again at the end of the day. I guess now it’s our teacher masks we have to consciously think about wearing, as this seems to be the new normal— in Victorian schools, at least— for the foreseeable future.
The wearing of masks is something disliked by many students and staff alike. Personally, I don’t mind wearing one, and I am happy to not be breathing in whatever germs are floating around the room. Most of my students seemed to manage without any difficulty, but getting some of them to wear their masks properly and not keep touching them proved to be yet another new classroom challenge.
Still, there were some good things going on.
The tone and humour in my classrooms was generally positive. One kid who doesn’t even like me much told me it was good to see me. I laughed and told him to give it time, and everyone laughed at that because we all knew it wouldn’t last.
Marking the class roll was significantly easier and quicker than online: once again, I could see at a glance who wasn’t there. Marking the roll in online classes was something I always found arduous. Today it took two seconds.
I could see right away who wasn’t doing what they should be, and I could move around behind them and see their screens. There is no more effective way to make someone work than to be able to see their screen.
At the same time, I could instantly encourage those who were working hard amd staying on task. It’s so much easier to be positive when you can be both natural and proactive about it. The added bonus is that when you praise and encourage one student for doing a good job or making a great effort, it tends to make those listening more inclined to want to do better and get some praise, too.
Those few kids who have avoided doing much at all since we returned to online schooling finally had to do some work. Those who did not engage in online lessons found themselves no longer able to just sign in and zone out or leave the room. And because I was wearing a mask, they couldn’t see my wry grin as I watched them working.
I was able to move around the room and look over the shoulders of my students. Delivering instant feedback and reminders about spelling, punctuation and paragraphs is significantly easier than trying to give that kind of advice online.
All things considered, while the day was not without a few issues and challenges, it’s fair to say that the positives outweighed the negatives. It’s hard not to be satisfied with that.
It seems that I haven’t just dropped the proverbial ball when it comes to blogging regularly, I’ve gone and lost the jolly thing. I last saw it a couple of weeks ago, when it bounced a couple of times before rolling away through some very prickly bushes and falling into a seemingly bottomless hole.
The thing is, life since that drafted virus unleashed itself on the world has been tumultuous.
I could tell you I haven’t written anything, but that’s not true. I have written some really great lessons and three entire new units because what I had planned (and written) previously wasn’t going to work in an online learning environment.
I could tell you I didn’t have a quarantine project, but that isn’t true either. I’ve had two, both of which happened by necessity rather than design.
Project One: reinventing my career Initial Observations: Teaching from home is a whole lot more work than it sounds. All that extra time online is very tiring. Final Observations: Challenging and exhausting, but enormously satisfying. Most students engaged really well. More positives than negatives. Verdict: Aced it.
Project Two: supporting my father as he spent a couple of weeks in hospital before transitioning into residential aged care. Initial observations: Lots of phone calls. Mountains of paperwork. Huge emotional adjustments. Further Observations: Decisions are hard, even when you actually have no choice. Emotions are hard. Being on one mental and emotional roller coaster while your dad is on a completely different one can only be dealt with by hanging on for dear life and completely faking any appearance of knowing what you are doing. Verdict: Aced it. Especially the part where I looked like I knew what I was doing.
It should also be mentioned that these two significant challenges occurred simultaneously. I didn’t have time to scratch myself, much less spend any more personal time online than I did.
So really, I’ve achieved far more since mid-March than is apparent from my nonexistent output of either blog posts or fiction.
I admit that I have seriously contemplated walking away from writing and/or blogging. Even while considering that, I knew that was the stuff of emotional and mental exhaustion, because I still have ideas and plans bubbling away in the back of my mind. I am not ready to quit, and I would be letting myself down if I did.
I will get my mojo back, even if I’m not sure when that might happen.
The Australian federal and state governments are, like those all over the world, currently considering how to phase the country out of strict social isolation and start getting back to business. All we know for sure at this point is that it will happen in stages, with the strictest rules being relaxed first. Each state will decide when to implement each stage.
As states roll back some of the social restrictions we’ve been living under, there are a few key things we must all remember.
Easing restrictions doesn’t mean the virus is gone. It means that the levels of infection in the community are low enough that the hospitals will have capacity for anyone sick enough to need a bed and a ventilator.
We will still have to socially distance for the foreseeable future. That’s probably not an entirely bad thing.
Hygiene will still matter. In fact, hygiene has always mattered. I have often marvelled that is 2020, despite how sophisticated and advanced we may think we are, it has been necessary to tell people to wash their hands and not to cough or spit on people.
People matter more than convenience or entertainment. Some of us might be itching to get out to the football, the pub, or the cinema. Others just want to not get sick. Restrictions are being lifted in stages to balance so that the interests and priorities of both groups, so it’s important to still follow any rules that remain in place.
Some people have thrived while working or learning from home. The opposite is also true. All those extroverts who are dead keen to get back to “normal” need to realise that any anxiety they have felt while having to stay home was actually a very real case of the shoe being on the other foot. Introverts and people who suffer from social or workplace anxiety had had something of a reprieve over the past few months and might be dreading work or school going back to the way it used to be.
Patience and consideration of others are crucial life skills for everyone. Even when the need for isolation has completely passed, we all need to be understanding of how others feel.
What Rolling Back #isolation #restrictions Means. #StayHomeStaySafe #BeKind #SocialDistancing
But who knew, when we started rehearsing ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ in January, that it would be Covid-19, not Audrey II, that would multiply and attempt to take over the world?
So much planning and preparation and rehearsal had already gone into the show when that drafted virus reared it’s ugly, spiky head and took over the world.
So much bonding had happened between cast members: new friendships, shared experiences, mutual encouragement, and lots of laughter will do that. So will working together toward a shared goal. And so will learning harmonies, putting them together and experiencing the magic that happens when it sounds amazing.
Then, in March, we had to hit the ‘pause’ button. We promised we’d bring it back, and we will. We assured the cast it would be our next show, and they’d be in it— and it’s true. We will.
Still, it’s hard to go from being part of something to Instead being suspended in the anticipation of it yet again, yet far more tantalising than it was before we started because now we had a taste of how good it was going to be.
It’s hard to go from three rehearsals a week to staying home and social distancing.
There was so much that was hard about calling a corona-halt to the show, even though it was the right thing to do.
So, tonight, even though it should have been opening night, I am reminding myself that every one of my cast members is safe. Healthy. Not infected. Able to be in the show when we pick it up again next year.
I am reminding myself that there is still so much to look forward to. We will do this show. We will do it together. We will build on the work we’ve already done, and not one bit of our work will have been wasted.
Our bonding will continue, our friendships will solidify and grow, and we will keep on making memories as well as music.
In this time of social distancing and staying home, some people are feeling very restricted and isolated. It’s easy for people to give into negativity and resentment, particularly if they are used to being out and about and interacting with people. It’s crucial that we don’t fall into that trap, especially as it is, in all likelihood, only early days yet.
I have one single thought to share with you today which has the power to completely change a person’s perspective and re-focus their thoughts in much healthier directions.
Don’t think about what you can’t do. Think about what you cando.
This is going to be my response to every expression of negativity about staying home.
I get it. We’re at home, our kids are home, we can’t go anywhere, so let’s stay in our pyjamas all day! Right?
When everything else in the world is in limbo and the rules are changing on a weekly — or daily — basis, it’s really important for our health to keep some kind of routine and not let the basics fall by the wayside.
Nutrition matters. It’s tempting to live on pizza, chocolate and peanut butter sandwiches, but being sure we eat well and nourish our bodies properly is crucial to maintaining good health. The healthier we are, the more resistant we are to germs of any kind, and the recovery from any bug we might pick up will be quicker. Not only that, but we’re going to have to go back to work sooner or later, and it would be good if those business suits or uniforms still fit when that time comes.
Hydration is also crucial to keeping the body healthy, but most of us don’t drink as much water as we should. It was only when I started keeping track of how much I was drinking in a day that I realised how far short I had fallen from what my body actually needed on a daily basis. Remember, too, that alcohol is a diuretic, so for every beer or glass of wine, we need to drink more water. For a great discussion on how much water we need to drink, listen to this interview from ABC Australia.
Exercise is similarly important, and for more reasons than just not bulking out while we’re hibernating. Exercise is good for the brain and the emotions as well as the body, so even when we can’t leave home, it’s important to walk, or get on the treadmill, toss a ball with the dog, follow a cardio or dance video tutorial, or get into stretching and yoga. Even cleaning out a cupboard or doing some gardening qualifies. There are lots of options for people to pursue at home, and your exercise can be as gentle or vigorous as you want it to be so there’s no excuse for staying in bed or living on the couch for the foreseeable future.
While it has been widely publicised that sunlight will kill the corona virus doesn’t like the sunlight, that is not actually true. Even so, it dos kill other germs and bacteria. Stepping outside the house and into the fresh air and sunshine is highly beneficial for wellbeing. You don’t have to go far – just into the yard will do if you can’t or don’t want to go any further. While people who live outside the city are at a definite advantage here, most neighbourhoods have parks, gardens or reserves where you can go and walk without being in close proximity to anyone else or even touching anything. Letting light into your house is important, too. it helps you maintain a natural circadian rhythm, and therefore promotes better sleep hygiene.
Personal hygiene may seem mundane, and there are probably people out there who are treating it as optional, but showering every day, wearing deodorant, and taking care with presentation is an important part of taking on each day with a positive attitude. It’s psychologically proactive and It makes a difference to our physical health and wellbeing. Just as importantly, it makes you much more pleasant to be around. You might just be at home with your family, but they are actually the most significant people in your life. If you couldn’t be bothered doing it for yourself, do it for them.
Maintaining a routine is also a very positive psychological strategy. If you normally work from 8.30 til midday then break for lunch, try to do that at home, too. You might have some interruptions, or you might be sharing a workspace, but it’s a powerful way to model to other people, especially kids, that keeping going in times of adversity is both possible and beneficial. It also keeps the brain trained for returning to work when the time comes, and gives you a great sense of satisfaction of achieving something each day.
Similarly, keeping your home spaces clean and tidy promotes health by not giving the germs a foothold. Do the laundry, wash the dishes, and clean the surfaces regularly. That way, things are easily maintained without turning into hard labour.
Relaxation should be part of every day. Whether it’s reading, crafting, meditation, writing, doing a puzzle or listening to music or a podcast, spend some time each day in quietness and peace. If your kids aren’t good at quietness and peace — and many are not — now is a better time than any to model positive mindfulness and teach them some strategies they can use. They should also be learning to respect your need for some downtime, too. They may be getting frustrated, but it’s actually not all about them.
In keeping with all of this, my own personal strategies include are:
Maintaining my regular morning routine: get up at a reasonable hour, shower, dress, have breakfast, and then get into the things I need to do each day.
Creating an achievable “to-do” list for each day. It helps me organise myself, and ticking things off the list is incredibly satisfying.
Sticking to my usual school timetable as much as possible when I’m working from home. I’m a teacher, so there’s always plenty I can do. I have to take care not to let work consume the entirety of each and every day. A routine helps me to manage that more effectively, and keeps me on task this week as I’m working to get done what I need for the beginning of Term 2.
During the scheduled term break of two weeks leading up to Easter, I need to ensure I have the break I have earned. There will be some school work to do — there always is — but I will not be working the whole time.
Spending time outdoors every day. I can choose to work in our courtyard, spend time in the yard with the dog and talking to the sheep over the fence, or spend time in one of the parks in town. Mixing it up from day to day is how I roll.
Eating properly. The temptation to snack all day is huge, and having dropped a few dress sizes since August, that’s not a habit I want to get back into. I’m shopping strategically – I go only when I need to, and when my resolve is strongly in favour of buying apples rather than chocolate.
Punctuating between activities by drinking a glass of water.
Maintain my regular habit of reading for at least an hour a day.
Self Care At Home During the #CoronavirusLockdown #mentalhealth #HealthandWellbeing #selfcare #Priorities #stayinghome
While many of us are staying in and working from home in the interests of slowing down this drafted virus, there are some important positive things we should all be doing at this time of social distancing and isolation during the time of Covid-19.
The good news is that you don’t even have to leave home to do them.
Some of the positive things we should all be doing include:
Check on your older family members. They are susceptible to loneliness at the best of times, and this is definitely not the best of times.
Check on your extroverted family members and friends. They are probably already a little stir crazy, and it’s nowhere near over yet.
Sincerely thanking everyone you know who works in the health profession, in a supermarket or pharmacy, or who drives a truck delivering the produce and goods that we are all relying on. They are the ones making it possible for us to stay home and stay safe.
Share encouragement, kindness, and support, instead of germs. Wouldn’t it be great if we could make that stuff go viral?
Social media is full of parents who have suddenly found themselves homeschooling their kids and wondering what level of purgatory they have landed in. Now is a great time to send a message of thanks to your kids’ teachers, acknowledging what an incredible job they have been doing.
Take care of yourself. Nutrition, hygiene, exercise, and fresh air and sunshine are all super important.
Sharing great ideas and resources for things to entertain, teach, inspire and motivate. It’s not just kids needing something constructive to do— there are plenty of bored grownups out there, too. Can you imagine how different a place Facebook and Twitter might be if we filled them with cool posts to help each other instead of all the complaints that seem to be there?
When a friend shares something good on their feed, give it a thumbs up or a heart, and share it around. If you enjoyed it, you can bet there’s someone else out there who will benefit from it, too!
Support local small business. Now more than ever, your local stores need your support. When you have to go out and restock the pantry or replace something that has broken, buy local, support your neighbourhood businesses, and keep the community going. It can’t be said often enough: your $50 or $100 won’t actually mean much to a huge multinational company, but it will make an enormous difference to a family business that is endangered in this current economic climate. You’ll help to feed or clothe someone’s kids, or keep the lights on.
These might sound like quite basic ideas, but it’s so easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees when things seem dire. A bit of positivity here and there adds up to a mindset that can completely change your day, or your perspective. Give it a go!
Positive Things We Should All Be Doing While #StayingHome #StayHomeandStaySafe #positive #stayingpositive #PositivePosts
During any crisis, be it war, fire, flood, famine or pestilence, it’s important to stay up to date with important information, but it’s also really easy to be overloaded by non-stop discussion and bombardment by both media and social channels.
In recent weeks, it seems that every time one turns the radio on or watches anything on commercial television, the only thing anyone talks about is corona virus related. It’s relentless. Government officials, scientists, medical authorities, celebrities, talk shows, podcasts, and current affairs specials are all contributing to the conversations, with varying degrees of accuracy and relevance. Every news bulletin tells us how many people have been diagnosed and how many have died.
It would be quite possible to consume media about global developments, self isolation, quarantine, and empty supermarket shelves all day, every day— and there are probably people doing that.
That’s not healthy.
It very quickly becomes emotionally and mentally overwhelming , and can blow out into quite disproportionate fear and paranoia.
We are all as susceptible to that as anyone else, so it is important to strike a balance between keeping abreast of what we need to know and limiting the amount of constant discussion about the virus that we allow into each day.
My strategies and decisions for achieving this include:
Being very selective about where I get my news and information. Each day, I inform myself via reputable and balanced news services. Then I turn my focus to other things.
Choosing to deliberately reject “fear language” and negativity, because that doesn’t help anyone.
Being discerning about the content of social media feeds, and how much time is spent reading them. Keep in mind that social media is very rarely one of those reputable and balanced news services. There’s a lot of misinformation out there. The “mute” functionality is very useful in those circumstances.
Adopting an “only positive” approach to sharing and promoting other people’s content. If it’s encouraging, entertaining and constructive, share away. Spread that stuff around like a five year old sprinkles glitter.
Occupying our thoughts with productive and proactive things. Whether that is work, recreational, or creating positive content for our own social media depends on the needs and demands of each day.
Balancing the amount of screen time in each day with screen-free time. Especially in these times of social distancing, it’s vital to ensure that healthy habits are maintained. Go for a walk, enjoy some sunshine or look at the night sky, prepare and enjoy good food, talk with family and friends, dance to a favourite tune or two, read a book, play with the dog, clean out a cupboard or pull some weeds in the garden… the possibilities are myriad.
Keeping things in perspective. Yes, there is a global health crisis making many people sick and curtailing personal and social freedoms. People are losing jobs and businesses as a result. The economy is wallowing. It is a very serious situation. At the same time, most of us are simply being asked to stay home and find ways to entertain ourselves. It might be inconvenient, and we might have to abandon or change plans, but it is still a much better option than what some people are facing.
Supporting local community. When you do need to buy things, try to invest in local and small businesses so that they can survive the crisis, too. This can help you to develop a sense of connection and belonging that is as encouraging for you as it is for the folk you support. An additional benefit is that many small businesses are currently offering contactless shopping and delivery options at no extra expense, and the quality of the goods and services they offer often far surpasses their bigger competitors.
We can’t control the virus, but we can control our own responses to the disruption and social climate it has created. By being proactive about keeping informed and staying positive, we can avoid being overwhelmed by the volume of discussion and the fear and negativity that can so easily take hold as a result.
Staying informed without getting overwhelmed during the #Coronavirus #pandemic #perspective #mentalwellbeing #blogpost
To many people right now, the world seems like it is in crisis in the wake of the corona virus outbreak. Those of us old enough to remember SARS, swine flu and H1N1 tend to understand more of the reasons for that than our kids do, even if we still don’t understand why toilet paper is worth pulling a knife on someone,
To many of our kids and teens, though, it seems like some kind of madness has taken over. As concerts, sports, social events, classes and rehearsals have been brought to a screeching halt as they look on, some of them are starting to buy into the fear that they have seen expressed on TV, in social media, and among some members of the community.
That hit home really personally on Sunday when our theatre company told the cast that we had decided to hit the pause button and defer our production of Little Shop of Horrors that was due to hit the stage in May.
“This whole thing sucks!” one young cast member said. “I know!” another replied. “It’s taking all the joy out of life!” “I get it, though,” responded the first one. “We have to keep people safe. But it’s making a lot of people really miserable at the same time.”
She was 100% correct. I am feeling really miserable about it, too. That’s completely natural.
We will do the show — we just can’t say when. For now, rehearsals are suspended and we all find ourselves with a lot of extra time on our hands that we had been putting into working together for a common goal.
At a time when many of us are being isolated from the activities we love and the company of others who enjoy those same things, how do we stop the molehills of grief turning into mountains of misery?
That’s a really big question, and I don’t profess to have all the answers.
I do know that it’s important to find ways to encourage and motivate each other. It’s important to monitor and support each other’s emotional and mental health.
So, here are just a few suggestions for possible ways to lift the spirits of the young people in your life during the disappointments and challenges caused byCovid-19:
Acknowledge their feelings. It’s quite natural to feel disappointed and a bit annoyed at the number of things being cancelled, postponed or banned. Instead of telling them to “suck it up” or “take it on the chin”, tell them you understand, and that you’re feeling similar things too. Empathy will always win more favour than platitudes.
Involve them in the family decision making about social distancing, self-isolating and dealing with the practicalities that follow. Knowing that they have been listened to, and having some ownership of the decisions and plans that are made, will reduce feelings of resentment, anger and rebellion.
Praise and thank them for their maturity in accepting disappointments. A bit of intrinsic motivation goes a very, very long way with young people.
Give them responsibility appropriate to their age and ability. It could be anything they feel is important and worthwhile: preparing a meal, keeping a particular area of the house clean and sanitised, disinfecting all the door handles in the house each day, or calling grandparents or other family members on the phone to support and encourage them.
Limit the amount of “fear language” you allow in the house. This might mean not watching the 6pm news on TV as a family, discussing what members of the family will allow on their social media feeds, and discussing things in a responsible way. Be honest about your feelings, but try to phrase your responses to the virus and consequent changes and limitations using positive and proactive language like “social responsibility” and “doing out part to protect the vulnerable” instead of using terms like “lockdown”, “corona virus jail” or “panic”.
Encourage them to find constructive ways to use their spare time. ‘Netflix and chill’ is okay, but not all day, every day.
Self-isolation does not have to be completely isolating. Hanging out with friends in person may not be an option, but there are ways to socialise beyond the regular social media platforms where kids are likely to hear a lot of “doom and gloom” about the current situation. Try Skype calls or Google Meet, which enable people to spend time, chat, and still see each other, all from a distance.
Give them something to look forward to. Discuss and make plans for activities, holidays, or celebrations that will happen once the need for social distancing and self-isolation has passed. Anticipation of something good is a powerful antidote to feeling as though all the fun things have been taken away.
Ask for their expert help. Whether it’s compiling a great playlist on Spotify, learning how to use Instagram or Snapchat, finding a great app or game for your phone or tablet, or ordering groceries or pizza online, older kids and teenagers are likely to have those skills down to a fine art. Even if you have a fair idea how to do those things, ask them anyway.
While there is obviously no perfect solution, it’s important that we continue to try to find positive and healthy ways to deal with the limitations and restrictions that are being put in place.
If you have any other suggestions, please share them in a comment.
Supporting Our Kids And Teens Through #CoronaVirus #lockdown disruption. #support #PositivePosts #StayingHome #mentalwellbeing #MentalHealthAwareness #PositiveParenting