At a time when my state is still in lockdown, we’re back to teaching online and trying to tick all the boxes that go with that while at the same time dealing with all the other demands of life.
It’s very easy to become consumed by the job. It’s very easy to rationalise going those extra steps to create whizz-bang lessons that will engage and interest the students and hopefully keep both them and myself motivated despite the malaise that I have dubbed ‘online learning fatigue”.
I have learned over recent months how important it is to set limits for myself. I have consciously tried to avoid overburdening my students with work, and sought to develop learning activities that they can complete offline. I’ve tried to remind them to get up and walk around, to drink water, to get sunshine on their face and on their back.
Ironically, I’m not always so great at managing my own stress. In the midst of trying to be Super Teacher or Little Miss Motivator, I still have to remind myself to do those same things.
This post from Nerdome appeared in my feed at an opportune moment. It’s a good read, providing some quick tips and good insights about managing stress.
Those who spend more time with their works tend to suffer from stress more than the other. The mental and emotional burden that is often attributed to the demands of work can affect our productivity and efficiency with our task that would often lead us to troubles than not. This is one reason why it is very important for workaholics to undertake stress management to avoid compromising their career.
You don’t have to be in a special place to apply stress management. In fact, you can do it anytime and anywhere if you feel like it. You can do it while at your work desk, in the comfort room, or even out in the lobby. The idea here is to control your mind to relax so that you can continue fresh with your task — emotionally, physically, and mentally. Here are some tips that will surely help you out.
Teaching in front of a camera has given me— and, I’m sure, every other teacher out there — a unique insight into what our students see when we talk and interact with them.
I have made some honest observations about myself during this time.
I really do have RBF. Sorry, kids. I’m not annoyed or angry, that’s just how my face looks.
When my eyes are tired, I tend to open them really wide after blinking. It tends to makes me look somewhat perpetually surprised. Prior to lockdown learning, I had no idea I did this.
At first, I touched my face a lot without thinking about it. Now? Not so much.
My coffee cups look even more enormous on camera than they actually are.
The little smiles I give to try to connect with my students, and to encourage and motivate them, can sometimes look a bit deranged.
My eyebrows are perhaps my most expressive feature.
My hair does, in fact, look really cool most of the time.
Despite all those things, my students keep on showing up to class, working hard, getting things done and putting a smile on my face. They regularly brighten every day I spend with them. They’re a pretty awesome bunch.
There are a few other things I have observed.
Bad hair days and/or desperate need for a cut and colour are easily fixed with a nice beanie/touque/knitted hat. The best way to find beanies/touques/knitted hats nice enough to wear for work is to have friends who knit or crochet. Also, a faux fur pom pom on a hat is far more satisfying than I ever realised.
Working from home has its benefits, but it is definitely not less work.
Looking at a screen for sustained periods of time is mentally and visually exhausting. I’ve started asking my students what sorts of trees are in their gardens, what they can see from their windows, and what’s happening outside their houses, just to make them look away from the screens every now and then. I’m also spending a lot less time on screen outside of class. There is nothing like losing yourself in a book, but when your eyes are tired, listening to great audiobooks and podcasts while staring into the distance is an enormously underrated and enjoyable sanity saver.
Overall, things have worked fairly well for me.
On the Sunday evening before my final week of 100% remote teaching from home, I can honestly say that I can look forward to my classes this week with confidence.
I am also looking forward to seeing some of my classes and colleagues when we begging to return to school on June 1st. It will be great to get into a physical classroom again… although I wonder if that might feel a little weird now, too?
Observations from #TeachingFromHome In Front Of A Camera #TeacherLife #TeacherConfessions #TeachingOnline #blogpost
I wrote in Tuesday night’’s post that the first day of teaching my classes remotely/online was challenging.
I thought it would be good to follow that up at the end of the school week with my insights after a few more days’ experience.
Things definitely got better as the school week progressed.
All of my students seemed to relax and interact more normally as the week progressed. I think some of them found it really awkward and a bit artificial at first, and many others— myself included— just didn’t know what to expect.
I had to make my expectations for behaviour and interactions super clear via email to a couple of kids. I actually made an explicit list of what I expected and what they were not welcome to do. This helped to set boundaries for them, and they changed their attitude accordingly. Things were a lot better after that.
My students have done some great work this week, and I have been able to give positive and constructive feedback to encourage them. This also encourages me: I can do this. The kids appreciate my effort and input. My classes are benefiting from the structure, the lessons and the encouragement I have given them. It doesn’t matter if I feel it’s not the same or not enough, or as though I am treading water. I am good enough. My teaching is valuable. I can do this.
I am so thankful for my school and its consistent, uniform approach to the delivery of lessons and learning material. I’m also super glad we have followed the same routines and timetables.
In times of turmoil and change, schools, teachers and students all have the greatest chance of success when everyone is on the same page and things are kept as consistent and stable as possible
In my discussions with friends and family who teach elsewhere, I have learned that this isn’t happening elsewhere. Timetables and class sizes have changed for some, some have new classes they’ve never had before, and others have no streamlined or consistent method of delivery or assessment. One poor soul is trying to deal with all of those complications and more. I am trying to be as supportive of that particular friend as I can be, and have suggested that if the school has left it completely up to him to manage, he might follow the practices my own school has implemented so that his students have some structure and consistency with his classes at least. He’s going to do that, and suggest those same things to his colleagues.
Teachers worldwide are struggling with the same anxieties, challenges and logistics that I am. I am note alone. Nor are my students.
We should not be discouraged if we don’t get through the regular program, or if things don’t always work the way we’d like them to.
Our online classrooms provide valuable connection and communication for the kids. It helps them to feel less isolated and cut off, and gives them regular opportunities to think and talk about life beyond corona.
Ultimately, my students are safe and healthy at home, and learning every day. Those are blessings that should not ever be taken for granted in this strange coronaverse of 2020.
I can honestly say I am looking forward to another week of positive, encouraging lessons and interactions after a well-earned rest this weekend.
As a teacher, I know there is no substitute for being in the classroom, engaging with the students and supervising their work, making suggestions or guiding their thinking. When you create a constructive, productive learning environment, students thrive.
Over the past few weeks, my school has worked really hard to reproduce that in an online learning environment. My colleagues and I have put a great deal of thought and preparation into making our students’ experiences of learning from home in online classes as interesting and beneficial as they can possibly be. From where I stand, we’ve done a great job of preparing for teaching and learning from home, and I really hope that our students and their parents feel the same way.
Today was our first day of teaching and learning remotely. My students were well behaved and cooperative. Most seem to have coped with the challenges of doing school at home, some of them sharing an environment with their siblings who were also doing their lessons at home, quite well. We got through everything I had planned for those initial lessons. Judging from the work they handed in today, the kids generally worked as well as they usually do in a classroom environment.
I don’t know how they all felt at the end of the school day, but by the time 3.30pm rolled around, I was exhausted.
Make no mistake: online teaching is really hard. It’s mentally demanding in ways that physical presence in the classroom is not. It’s harder to hear students when they speak, and it’s harder to be sure that everyone understands what you say or what you want them to do. Even marking the roll poses new challenges when you can’t simply identify empty spaces in the classroom. Things that have become instinctive for teachers are now impossible, and we find ourselves reinventing pedagogy, teaching, communication, and the delivery of lessons and lesson materials.
You can no longer maintain classroom management by circulating around the room or standing in strategic places so you can see what kids have on their screens. You can’t just look over a kid’s shoulder and remind them of a principle or fact that they need to consider. You can’t make a teaching point of quickly correcting an error or oversight.
To an extent, one has to just accept that and move on. If a student is easily distracted or willing to be inattentive, that is understandable: there’s a lot going on, they’re at school without being at school, they’re in their own environment, and some of them are genuinely anxious about the dangers and the restrictions that Covid-19 has brought about. Really, the best you can hope for is to find a way to gently bring their attention back to the task and try to re-focus them.
It’s a tricky set of circumstances for the kids as it is, and adding learning at home to the strangeness of social isolation and distancing is a situation that some kids — and some teachers — will undoubtedly find awkward at best.
Still, it’s good for all of us, kids and teachers alike, to have a routine and a variety other things to think about. It is healthy and constructive use of the abundant time we would otherwise have on our hands at this point in time.
As tired as I was, they day did end particularly well. After spending 90 minutes with one of my classes this afternoon, I was pleasantly surprised when three of my students thanked me for the lesson. In the past, wishing each other a good afternoon or a pleasant evening was not unusual, but having students actually thanking me for double English after lunch on Tuesday is totally new.
I spent the rest of my regular school day responding to the work they submitted, and giving my students some feedback on their ideas and responses. It was nice to be able to
At 4.15pm, I made myself a cup of coffee and almost cried into it with gratitude for my good but mentally exhausting day, and for the caffeine upon which I would rely for the next couple of hours while I cooked dinner and did everything else I needed to do.
When dinner was done, I looked at my husband and asked if it was too early to go to bed. “It’s 6.15pm,” he said. “So probably, then?” I asked. “Yeah. Probably.”
Maybe I’ll just spend the time between now and bedtime thinking about what gift I’m going to buy myself for Teacher Appreciation Week. Whatever it is, I will have earned it.
One teacher’s thoughts on the first day of teaching and learning while #StayingHome #teachingfromhome #TeachFromHome #TeachingOnline #teachertwitter