1. Set up a dedicated at home “classroom”
First things first – find a space where you can create your home classroom. This helps you stay focused throughout the day and avoid distractions. Depending on your living situation, this could be easier for some than others. Here are a few things to consider:
- Separate yourself. Even if you don’t have an office, try to find a space that is as separate as possible – even if it’s a corner. If you do need to use that space later, pack up your work each evening to help disengage.
- Consider video. If you’ll be meeting or teaching through video, consider what others will see in the background of your “classroom”. Try to keep it as neutral as possible, to avoid distractions.
- Furnish your classroom. Have all of your basic teaching supplies within reach of your setup to keep yourself focused. You could even consider adding a few things to make it feel more like a classroom.
- Set ground rules. Unless you’re living alone, you probably have any combination of pets, children or significant others sharing your home with you. It’s a good idea to set some ground rules or schedules to keep things running as smooth as possible.
2. Create a new work from home routine
Working from home can be a big switch – mentally and physically. Routines are a great way to cope with change by helping to reduce stress and anchor you. Set up some daily habits to help prioritize and manage your time. Routines will look a little different for everyone, but here a few things we recommend specifically to get you work-from-home ready:
- Keep regular hours. Determine when “class” starts and ends and stick to it. It can be difficult to “shut off” when working from home, but it’s important to disconnect to avoid burnout. While you’re at it, be sure to keep a regular sleep routine too!
- Get dressed. You don’t have to dress exactly like you would to go into the class but changing out of your pjs will help you make a fresh start to your day.
- Transition yourself. Typically, your daily commute gives you time to mentally ease into and out of work mode. Working from home means you need to set new cues. Try listening to music, reading a book or walking the dog. Just avoid rolling out of bed and onto your laptop.
- Schedule breaks. A routine should include some downtime. This could be as simple as having lunch away from your computer, taking a break to walk the dog or find time to do some reading.
3. Take care of your physical health
In the classroom, you’re likely moving around quite a bit – sitting at your desk, standing at the chalkboard, walking around the classroom and halls, and going outside. Teaching remotely definitely isn’t going to be the same. Here are a few tips to keep you feeling great physically:
- Embrace ergonomics. Avoid back, neck and wrist strain by making sure your workspace promotes good posture. Ideally, your shoulders, arms and legs are parallel to the floor. Feet should rest easily on the ground. Your chair should have a back and armrests and your monitor should be at eye-level. Bonus: Alternate standing and sitting while you work.
- Start stretching. Do quick stretches throughout the day. A good rule of thumb is every 25 minutes (where possible). It’s easy to get sucked into what you’re working on, so set a reminder on your phone or laptop to keep you in check.
- Get outside. Think of it like recess! Get out of the house for some fresh air and a bit of exercise. It can be a huge mood booster just to change up your scenery.
- Eat healthy. We’re not saying to adopt a whole new diet, just maintain a regular routine for mealtimes and aim to balance in what you do eat.
TIP: Plan time just for cooking, eating and even cleaning up to help give yourself the headspace or energy for it.
4. Mind your mental well-being
You’re likely dealing with many new stresses and adjustments in your life right now, not just at work. It’s important to find ways to keep yourself.
- Communicate! Working from home doesn’t have to be lonely. Reach out to other teachers for support or tips. Find ways of connecting with your students and their parents to maintain relationships outside of the classroom. And of course, stay in touch with family and friends.
- Disconnect. When it comes to working remotely, set your hours and be strict with yourself about respecting them. Also, give yourself a breather from news and media which can sometimes fuel negativity.
- Monitor Yourself. Do mental checks with yourself regularly. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, distracted, or just not yourself, there are many resources available to support you including your benefits, government programs and online resources.
Remember that transitioning to working from home and teaching online will take time. These tips are a great place to start, don’t expect to get it perfect the first time. As any good teacher knows, be flexible, learn as you go and make improvements.