Tuesday / April 23

Time Management Tip: Take Small Breaks Around Your House While Teaching Remotely

Teachers, how are you doing right now? We’re in crazy times. Right now you are doing incredible work to support students. Things are looking a lot different and to be honest, it’s a bit hectic with way more preppingIt’s almost like we’re teaching a new course or even coursesI would like to take a minute to support you.    

Many of us find ourselves teaching online this week, working on curriculum, virtually connecting with colleagues, and may even find ourselves balancing childcare, homeschooling, and trying to teach remotely from our homeat the same time. At some points, we might feel like we’ve lost a bit of control or knowing what to expect tomorrow.  

Teachers, can I get real with you? 

Let’s remember that we are doing our best to keep student earning happening during a crisis rather than teaching a full-blown online course. It’s different. An online course is designed to be online, and the learners who choose online courses usually prefer to learn that way. That may not be the case for all of our students who have switched to online. We may not have control over that. We’re doing the best we can right now to keep the learning going 

And here’s another reality: We’re spending so much more time in front of the screen than we are used to and may feel like we’re on call 24/7 with parents and students via email and other forms of technological communication. This can wear on our physical and mental wellbeing over timeLet’s be kind to ourselves and do this one adjustment. You have control over this.  

Practice Taking Small Breaks Around the House As You Are Teaching Remotely 

These small breaks are everything.  

Taking small breaks around the house can help increase productivity, keep our energy up, help us refocus, and increases or work stamina in the long run.  

Why do we often not take small breaks while we are in our brick and mortar classrooms?  

  1. Most of us forget, have something that needs to be done immediately, don’t have the opportunity with our schedules, or feel guilty taking small breaks while we are at school. We work tirelessly from early in the morning until late in the afternoon, then find ourselves wanting to collapse – fighting not taking a nap when we get home and struggle through dinner and evening.  
  2. When we are at school, some of us work tirelessly through the entire week and then find ourselves wanting to collapse Friday afternoon around 4:30 pm.  

Here’s an excerpt from Real Talk About Time Management: 35 Best Practices for Educators that can paint a more vivid picture of why we need small breaks to keep us energized and more productive when we are working 

Teaching is one of the professions that probably should have mandatory breaks. The medical profession is another, and it acknowledges this through its regulations. In order to ensure the highest quality of care for patients, Vanessa Patricelli explains that nurses scheduled for twelve-hour shifts are required to get a minimum of three fifteen-minute breaks and one uninterrupted meal period- and remember, that’s only a minimum (Patricelli, 2016). Hospitals can be held liable if this does not happen. No matter how critical a patient is, the nurses are still forced to break.  

Hospitals know that nurses need uninterrupted break time to deal with the emotional and physical demands of providing high-quality care to patients. Without breaks, hospitals know that nurses are more likely to experience fatigue, and burnout, and they could potentially make mistakes that severely affect the health of patients. Teachers also need to understand the importance of breaks and what effect they have on your performance, your mind, and your overall well-being. Sometimes we have to make our own breaks, and this might take some creativity. 

pg. 149

Teachers, you are on the front lines right now for your students. Your students most likely have emotional as well as academic needs you are trying to meet. Just like the nurses on the front lines, you deserve breaks right now, too, as you are teaching.  

That means we have to do what it takes to stay optimistic, energized, and on top of everything. Small breaks can help us do that. Small breaks allow our mind to reset and recharge so we can stay focused.  

Even though we are not in our classrooms, we can still experience the benefit that breaks have on our overall well-being, energy levels, overall enjoyment, and productivity as the work continues.  

Of course, breaks we can take now while working from home  often look different than what we would be able to do at school. Here are a few ideas you can do to practice taking small breaks around your house as you are working from home 

When you feel like you could use a small break here’s what you do:  

First, I suggest you close you  refrain from going on social media, which can cloud your mind and defeat the purpose of the break.  Then, take a few minutes to:  

  • Work on an art project intermittently  
  • Connect with a family member or friend with a quick phone call or video chat (Remember this isn’t social distancing so much as it’s physical distancing. It’s even more important to stay connected and virtually social right now with phone calls and video chats 
  • Use items around your house for weights and do a few reps. Milk jugs, packets of rice or beans, books, paint cans, bags of produce, laundry soap, cast iron skillets that can weigh up to ten pounds will all work. Teachers, we’ve all stocked up by now and most importantly we’ve always been creative!  
  • Watch a TED talk- 20/40 minutes leave you feeling ready to do or take a new view on something.  
  • Play with your pet. Yay! We can do this now.  
  • Play an instrument- guitar 
  • Spend a few minutes talking, laughing, reading, or playing with your child that might now be at home. Babies, in particular, have a natural way or breaking our minds from work.  
  • Listen to a podcast (depending on the time you may have) 
  • Clean or organize a closet or a small area of your house (like a kitchen drawer) 
  • Meditate- Find a guided meditation on You Tube if you don’t already have a practice 
  • Collect items and box them so you can give them to charity eventually 
  • Write a quick postcard to a student’s household 
  • 5 minute dance it out- anxiety, energy, wake up body, refresh your mind- most songs are about 3-5 minutes so throw on your favorite song 
  • Listen to an uplifting song- music can dramatically uplift and energize your mood 
  • Do 4-7-8 breathing exercises Inhale for four seconds, hold for seven seconds, exhale for eight seconds. 4-7-8 breathing is effective in calming anxiety. 

Now that we find ourselves working from home, we have the opportunity to make healthy habits. We can practice what it feels like right now to break and how it increases our energy levels, mood, and productivity throughout the day. We’re in this together.  

Written by

Serena Pariser has twelve years of experience teaching in public schools, including charter schools from kindergarten through twelfth grade. She was named Gompers Preparatory Academy Teacher of the Year in 2009. She is the former Assistant Director of Field Experiences at University of San Diego and also served as adjunct faculty.  

She was given the opportunity with Fulbright to coach teachers in Botswana on best teaching practices and also worked with students in Turkey and teachers in Nepal. She has been invited to be a keynote speaker at the 2020 INTC Beginning Teacher Conference.  

Serena is the bestselling author of Real Talk About Classroom Management: 50 Best Practices That Work And Show You Believe In Your Students and recently published Real Talk About Time Management: 35 Best Practices for Educators, both with Corwin. She now resides in Minneapolis to be closer to family.  

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  • I cannot agree more. Several of our teachers and others that I know feel this time is more difficult and waring than when we work with students face to face. Mental breaks, breaks away from the screen are very vital. Find that time when you can pause!

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