Rebecca Nobes shares five strategies she’s using to adjust to teaching from home during lockdown.
I’d like to start this blog with a quick disclaimer, I am no expert. I am a teacher like any other just trying to make these strange times work as best they can. This blog is an opportunity for me to share what I am doing in the hope that it may help even one other person.
Don’t compare your experience to what you see on social media
Firstly, and this is just generally good life advice here, stop comparing yourself to people on social media. Right now, no one else is in exactly the same situation as you and that’s important to remember. If you take edu-Twitter and teacher Instagram as a representation of what’s going on in every teacher’s life right now you’d think we’re all curating beautiful to-do lists with highlighters and washi tape (this one’s a new discovery for me) whilst sketchnoting our online CPD, reading loads of books, revamping our resources and all whilst live teaching on zoom. Take a moment now to remind yourself that this is not the case in the slightest.
Set yourself manageable goals
Following on from this, it’s important to set realistic expectations of yourself and not try to take on too much. If you’ve got time on your hands and want to get into some education related books, podcasts and other CPD then please do but don’t feel like you have to. You’re no less of a teacher for not doing this. Podcasts can be a really easy way of getting a little CPD hit, there are loads around now, including my podcast From Page to Practice. The next episode will be on Teachers vs Tech by Daisy Christodoulou, published by Oxford.
Have realistic expectations of your students
As well as being realistic with your expectations of yourself, you need to be realistic with your students too. They’re no more equipped than you are to deal with this new situation. Now of course, what I am saying here really depends on your school. Some may not have the freedom to choose how they are teaching, but for those of you that are interested here is what I am trying with my classes this week. I have made powerpoints for my lessons and then recorded a voice over on Loom. Each one is only 10 minutes maximum and tells the students when to start and stop the recording. These lessons include using tools like Kahoot and Quizlet which my students are already familiar with, and doing some work on paper which they then self-assess. I’m hoping that providing a bit more structure is going to help them and avoid the confused messages I was getting about the work I set before Easter.
Accept differences in your routine but try to maintain structure
Speaking of structure, keeping routine is really important for your own wellbeing. Again, this will depend on your school expectations but I’d say your structure doesn’t need to be exactly the same as usual, but close to it. Living 45 minutes away from school and usually aiming to beat the traffic and be at my desk for 7.45, I am enjoying a little more time in bed, followed by breakfast and some exercise. I am not a person who is used to regular exercise, but neither am I used to being at a desk for most of the day, so I think this is an important addition to my routine. Other than this, I am stopping for a tea break and lunch at broadly similar times to normal and being available at normal lesson times for contact from students and colleagues. The difficulty is knowing when to stop, especially if you’re living with someone that is working until 5.30/6pm.
Keep work and home as separate as you can
Try and separate work from home, if you can have a separate physical space that you can work in and leave that could be useful. At the very least have some things that you want to do for yourself so that you can make that clear break between the two. Separating home and school is something teachers tend to struggle with at the best of times, whether that is because of workload or because education has also become a hobby as well as a career. The Chartered College of teaching have launched the Teach Together campaign, the first thing they have collated is how teachers switch off. Maybe there are some ideas for you here?
So, my tips for teaching from home:
- Caution with social media comparisons.
- Check the expectations you have of yourself.
- Be realistic with your expectations of your students.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of structure and routines.
- Separate work and home wherever possible.
Rebecca Nobes is Head of Spanish at The Boswells School in Chelmsford, Essex. She runs #MFLchat on Twitter on Monday evenings from 8.30pm-9.00pm She is a council member of the Chartered College of Teaching and was awarded Chartered Teacher status in July 2019. She can be found at @BexN91 on twitter or www.learninglinguist.co.uk