How to balance remote teaching as a teacher-student
If you’re a new teacher, you probably never dreamed that your first year in the classroom wouldn’t be in the classroom. Like everyone else, you likely never considered the possibility that you’d be doing everything a whole lot differently because of a global pandemic.
Maybe you signed up for an internship, only to find your assignment involved working with a remote learning environment. Or maybe you’re still working toward your teaching credential while balancing your studies with a job outside the field to make ends meet.
Regardless of your current situation, here are some ideas to help you balance your priorities as you work from home while simultaneously pursuing your goal of educating the next generation.
Create your comfort zone
Your home is your sanctuary, and you can use that to your advantage if you’re forced to work remotely. Create a safe haven for yourself in a designated workspace where you can feel comfortable day in and day out.
Start by identifying the place for your home office that will best help you focus on your work. It might be a finished basement, a spare room, or even a large walk-in closet. If you’re like many people, it might be filled with things you’ve collected over the years, many of which you no longer use.
If so, start by identifying what you want to keep and what you no longer need. Then do your spring cleaning early and pile up everything you’re ready to discard. If there’s a lot, consider renting a dumpster or asking neighbors to go in with you on the project. Either way, it’s an affordable option for clearing space.
Assemble your work station
Make an inventory of everything you’ll need to be comfortable and productive in your new work area. Some things you might want to consider include:
- An ergonomic chair that allows you to reach your keyboard and mouse comfortably, while keeping your elbows at 90-degree angles. Make sure it has proper lower-back support.
- An adjustable desk that can accommodate someone of your height. You might also consider a standing desk.
- A comfortable keyboard that fits your physique (if you have broad shoulders, you might consider a curved or split keyboard).
- A mouse that’s the right size for your hand and fits with how you work, whether it has a trackball, is wireless, or even takes the form of a stylus or pen.
- A monitor positioned at or a little below eye level. Do you need a split or curved screen to work on multiple projects at once? Make sure your monitor is suited to your needs.
- Noise-canceling headphones to block out distractions.
Protect your focus
Speaking of distractions… if you share your home with family or roommates, be sure you inform them when you’re at work or studying, so they know not to interrupt you. If necessary, block out time on a digital calendar you share with your housemates. If your workstation is in a separate room, consider a “Do Not Disturb” sign.
Financial worries can be another source of distractions. Keep them at a minimum by ensuring that you have good credit and knowing how to maintain it. This is important even — and perhaps especially — if you’re just starting out. Establishing good credit now, when you’re still in school or just embarking on your teaching career, can set the stage for future financial security.
Another way to stay focused is to eliminate distractions that can occur as a result of things like electrical failures and plumbing problems. You can’t work in a flooded basement or if the electricity goes out. And what if you can’t afford an electrician? A home warranty can cover you against the cost of these and other home-system and appliance repairs.
Adopt a routine
Working from home can give you more freedom than working in a standard office, which can create temptations to either work too long or goof off. Guard against these tendencies by setting up a regular work schedule that requires you to “clock in” and “clock out” at consistent times, and includes time for breaks.
This can be easier if you’re teaching or helping teach classes remotely, since they start and end at specific times. But you still might want to designate time for homework and projects that aren’t assigned to a specific block of time.
Set goals for yourself and challenge yourself to complete them by a specific deadline. Then leave time for yourself: to exercise, meditate, or just have fun. Stay in touch with friends and family via email, Zoom, Facetime, and whatever other tools you have at hand. Their support will be important to keep you from feeling isolated amid the pandemic.
Balancing “work time” with “me time” can be more challenging — and more important — than ever during a pandemic, especially if you’re also juggling work and school. Staying focused and ensuring you have the tools to pursue your goals are essential to achieving them. It may seem overwhelming now, but with discipline and foresight, you can come through with flying colors.
My name is Ann Lloyd and I’m a newly enrolled MBA grad student. I’m getting my degree online and working as a marketing intern on the side. In my spare time, I’m hard at work on the Student Savings Guide, my blog about living a budget-conscious life. The guide caters to students and recent grads, but anyone can use these tips to get by.