As returning virtual school teachers, we know that our daily schedules, expectations, and interactions are very different than those of teachers at brick-and-mortar schools. And since we often work from home, it is more difficult to maintain a sense of home life that is separate from our work life. Here are a few strategies that will help you clearly delineate your work day from your home life:
- Before you dive into the work day, make a list of 3-5 things you want to accomplish that day. You won’t be overwhelmed by a lengthy list, and you WILL feel the satisfaction of accomplishment.
- Set a time goal for bigger projects. For instance, you could spend HOURS preparing class slides each day…but you might work more efficiently when you set a time limit. What works best for you?
- Take breaks. Breaks are very important. I repeat: Take breaks. Get up and walk around outdoors. Take a catnap. Eat lunch away from the computer. Walk in the sunshine. Ride your bike around the block. Take some time to nurture yourself.
- Shut your computer off at the end of the work day. At my school, this instruction is repeated often by our head of school and principals. It’s incredibly easy to ignore our family and ourselves while working long into the night, so strive to leave your work “at the office.” Oh, yes… Don’t work on holidays, either!
In my experience, virtual teachers have significant autonomy over their daily schedule, but they don’t always make a conscious plan to balance their projects or their physical and mental health. And not surprisingly, over time, resulting imbalances can lead to teacher burnout and dissatisfaction with what could be a very rewarding role. It is my hope that the aforementioned ideas help you evaluate your virtual school day with a new perspective and result in many fulfilling years in the virtual classroom!