Achieving work-life balance has always been a challenge for teachers. The shift to distance learning and hybrid models have only exacerbated the efforts to make work-life balance a reality. From juggling the unprecedented challenges of effective online teaching to ensuring meaningful connections with students during remote learning, teacher self-care is more important than ever to help prevent burnout. Do you eat dinner at the table with your family? Or do you sit with your plate next to your computer so you can catch up on grading essays? When you’re teaching from your living room, it’s hard not to feel like you’re “always on.”
Work-life balance is essential, not only for reasons of optimal productivity but for personal care. Achieving that balance in the time of remote teaching often comes down to having the right tactics, skills and tools.
Leverage Educational Pre-Planning Software to Save Time
A significant portion of teaching happens outside of the classroom: lesson planning, grading papers, communication with parents and students, and so on. As critical as these tasks are to the teaching profession, they are time-intensive. Having software that is designed to support essential tasks like pre-planning and organizational work within the virtual classroom, is one of the many things teachers are advocating.
For example, course organization can be supported by learning platforms designed for K-12 education, such as iTutor’s Virtual School, which provides teachers the ability to easily create, save, and organize custom lesson plans for their upcoming online classes. The pandemic has forced teachers to adjust their lesson plans to fit the mode of online learning. Pre-planning is vital to effective teaching, therefore having the right software available to create efficiencies results in more free time, constructive teaching, and a successful work-life balance.
Keep All Your Materials in One Place
In some ways, distance and hybrid learning models mean more busywork: not only do you need to print course materials for students in your classroom, but you need to create digital copies for pupils who are engaged in distance learning, too. That’s why keeping all of your materials in one place is a great way to cut down on administrative hang-ups.
Having tools like Google Drive or Microsoft One Drive fully integrated with your main learning platform, can help you to create a digital library that houses all of your working documents. With third-party integration, you’ll be able to keep all of your course materials—digital and printable—in one place and easily change permissions to allow students access to desired documents. Teachers who spend less time on administrative tasks will be able to focus more on their students, and their own families.
Get In a Little Exercise
There’s no denying the benefits of regular exercise. Teachers who are used to standing in front of a class all day may suddenly find themselves sitting at a table and computer all day—and nursing a sore back as a result. Devoting time to move your body every day will make all the difference to keep you feeling good and balanced. Plus, the energy you get from exercising can help give you the boost you need to tackle the day’s challenges.
Schedule Breaks from Your Camera
When teaching online, there’s a very good chance that your webcam is running six hours a day—or more! That’s a significant amount of time. People are often more self-conscious when they can see themselves on screen. This contributes to the feeling that you always have to be “on” and entertaining in order to keep students engaged. Having a true work-life balance may depend, at least somewhat, on allowing yourself breaks from your camera every so often.
Alternating your breaks throughout the week can create a sense of freedom over your schedule. You can also aim to build a short break into each class. Even just turning your video off when a student is speaking, or for a few minutes each class can help. Additionally, limiting your work to a single room and leaving the rest of your home for living can help create separation between your professional life and your personal life.
Take a Workshop
Maintaining a successful work-life balance when teaching from home requires a set of skills that you may not have learned yet. That’s why many educators and school districts have turned to career development courses as a means of increasing aptitudes and proficiencies. Workshops or PD can teach you how to:
- Set up and maintain boundaries with your time.
- Manage your time in a virtual space more efficiently.
- Boost engagement from students when distance or hybrid learning.
- Handle technological roadblocks.
Educators can work on-demand seminars into their already crowded schedules or attend virtual professional development classes from the comfort of their couches. Workshops can add new tools to your teaching arsenal, and ultimately help you achieve a true balance of work and home-life.
Achieve Work-Life Balance
It’s important to remember that you can achieve work-life balance, even when you’re teaching remotely. This advice represents little more than the tip of the iceberg. Find the strategies that work best for you, your teaching style, and your personal needs. Developing a thoughtful, intentional strategy will help you cultivate and retain the work-life balance you need to thrive.