I wanted to put a blogpost together on teacher wellbeing during school closures and share some tips that have been working for me. I think this is quite a stressful time for a lot of people as we worry about ourselves and our loved ones as well as the children who we didn’t really have a chance to say goodbye to before schools closed. I think it was all very sudden (necessarily so) but I definitely wasn’t prepared and wasn’t expecting to go to school on Thursday 12th March and not go back to teach my class on 13th. I know there’s a lot worse happening both in Ireland and around the world at the moment but I’m hoping to keep Irish Primary Teacher as a place of positivity and support for teachers, parents and children during this time.
Personally I crave routine so I find a loose schedule really beneficial for each day. I don’t have set times but just little things I’d like to do/achieve by the end of the day. I’m using the time during school closures to work on my blog, instagram, create videos etc. so I’m trying to do at least 1/2 things a day on Irish Primary Teacher. I also look at emails and seesaw every day to check in with my pupils. I’m also enjoying baking so I’ve been making buns, banana bread and scones and I’ll try brownies/cookies next week I think.
I think this is really important always as teachers but especially during this time. I’ve seen such brilliant ideas on Facebook/instagram and across the internet. I’ve worried about whether I’m doing enough for my class, whether I need to do more while also worrying about them, their families and their wellbeing. There’s so many wonderful ideas but that doesn’t mean we have to do them all. What works for some schools won’t work for others. The focus for some families is on wellbeing and balance while other families want to keep the structure of school and are worried about their children falling behind and some families are just struggling through hoping that they and their loved ones get through the next few weeks.
For me in my school we’ve looked at a few different options and have decided on email and seesaw for the next few weeks. This is what works for us and for the majority of the children. Is every child engaging every day? No. But this is ok – this is not ‘normal’ times and there is no ‘right’ way to do this. We have to find a way that will work best for our own individual settings and I think it’s really important to take time, assess the different options and then choose what will work best.
Some teachers are doing online live classes which is working really well for them and their children. Personally this wouldn’t be my preference for lots of reasons but there is a huge pressure to do what other schools are doing. I think it’s important to say ‘no’ if you don’t agree or you have concerns about different online learning options and come up with a solution that you’re more comfortable with. I definitely think there is a need to have a link with students and parents but I think live classes puts huge pressure on everyone – both teachers and families and I would have a lot of worry around child protection/safeguarding too.
Overall, I think it’s important to do what we think works best for our own individual schools and stop comparing ourselves to other teachers/ways that other schools are using.
Be kind to yourself
Do one nice thing for yourself each week – can be as simple as buying yourself some flowers when doing the shopping, or your favourite chocolate bar. If you usually buy a coffee a few days during the week but can’t at the moment then save up and buy yourself something nice. I’m saving a fortune on petrol and the toll as I use the M50 every day on my way to work so I’m going to use that money to buy something (not sure what yet – but maybe a spa day) when this is all over. Maybe include a face mask in the weekly shop or a nice bath bomb and have some time to yourself!
Keep in contact
Theres so many great ways to keep in contact with friends and family – try out some video calls – I have used WhatsApp, Zoom, Houseparty, FaceTime and Skype and all have worked well. (Important to be careful with things like zoom/houseparty as there is a risk of being hacked so make sure you double check your settings).
Even if you don’t usually contact your friends/family by video call – definitely give it a go. Reconnect with friends from college or someone you haven’t seen in a while and people who may be living abroad too!
I think it’s really important to get out of the house every single day – even if its just for 20-30 minutes. Fresh air, a quick walk are really important too! There are also some really fantastic YouTube videos that you can try at home. Some of my favourites
The Body Coach (Joe Wicks is doing daily P.E. sessions on his YouTube channel – he also has a huge amount of other videos too!)
Lucy Wyndham Read (I really enjoy Lucy Wyndham Read’s workouts and there are some low intensity and then some trickier ones too – some are really quick too!)
Zumba – I’m a big fan of Zumba classes so I’ve found a few good Youtube videos.
Yoga with Adrienne is definitely something to try out at home too!
Acknowledge the feelings – don’t feel guilty about it!
There are going to be things that you’ve planned that can no longer go ahead. It could be something as simple as meeting a friend for lunch or celebrating a birthday. For me, I was due to get married on April 4th (we did get married on 22nd March but couldn’t have the ceremony and celebrations we had planned). I found last week really tough as every day all I could think about was what I should be doing (if there wasn’t a global pandemic). Tomorrow (7th April) we were due to go on our honeymoon for nearly 3 weeks so again I feel really sad/annoyed/frustrated about that. Yes there are bigger things – of course but I think it’s really important to acknowledge our feelings about different things that we wish we could do, and events that should be taking place during this time that have to be postponed or changed.
Avoid things that make you feel anxious/stressed
To be honest, I rarely look at the news but found during the first few days since school closures I was constantly looking to see what was happening. I’ve stopped again now and check in briefly once a day – too much news can be information overload and it’s really important to take a break from it when needed.
Take a day at a time
No one knows when this will be fully over and we can go back to normal. I’m a planner so I’m finding that quite tricky at the moment but I’m trying to just take one day at a time. This morning I got up, did some questions on Instagram and went for a walk, came back and wrote a to do list for the day. This is what I need to make myself feel calm (it could be totally opposite for you) but find what works for you and just focus on the day to day.