Today, millions of teachers are suddenly transitioning into online classes. They have to completely re-learn what they thought they knew about how to educate. This transition would be difficult during the best of times but, without opportunities to get out of the house and relax in your usual haunts, right now burnout and stress are even more difficult to deal with. For a better experience both for yourself and for your students, try to keep some of these tips in mind as we continue to work under these new and difficult conditions.
Now don’t overdo your preparation, as not setting your work aside could just lead you to burnout even sooner. Focus on the lesson plan and what questions are likely to arise – especially questions you’ve heard in past terms – while the classroom has changed, the students and the questions will stay the same.
Build a Rapport
Don’t get stuck with emails and formal messages to students – call them through phone or video. Without face-to-face (or voice-to-voice) contact, your interactions can be more draining than rewarding. Just because we are apart, doesn’t mean we are disconnected.
As a tangent – make a social media profile that students can reach you through.
While teaching in a classroom setting, you probably have more time to decompress than you realize. Time between classes, office hours, and more – make sure you work these into your distance-teaching schedule as well. Walk away from the computer for a bit, grab a coffee, message fellow teachers. These little breaks can go a long way for mental health.
When you aren’t teaching or doing work related to your job walk away. Compartmentalize your work and be able to set it aside when you are no longer in “teacher mode.” Typically this is easy, since you can keep your work at the school or university, but separating is hard at home. Keep a dedicated space for teaching: A home office, a desk, or even just a certain area you don’t spend much of your time in. Even just dressing differently when teaching can help psychologically – so break out the button-ups and put away the sweats for a bit.
Call your fellow teachers. You may not think of it, but during your typical teaching days, you probably learn more from your fellow educators than you realize. Rely on each other for support both personally and professionally. We are all going through this difficulty at the same time, and it will be so much easier as long as we go through it together.