COVID-19 Working From Home beginning Week 4: Spring Break Edition… It’s not meant to be ironic, but this work from home/remote teaching experiment has been … very educational (sorry). I can only speak from my own experiences, from my school-site, in my tiny part of this enormous school district, that disclaimer aside, I have been most impressed with my colleagues who have taken this completely unprepared situation and found ways to support each other and communicate with their students and families with very little guidance from administration and pretty much none from the school district. They are amazing professionals who turned things around on their own instead throwing up their hands and complaining that this is impossible. I am very fortunate to work with such a great group of educators.
Having prior experience (six-years!) teaching remotely, I can tell you that some things don’t translate well when it comes to what it means to teach and for families, what it means to learn from home. First thing, having a consistent schedule is important but it can’t be tracked the same way as it was when you have 30 kids in a room, who would normally be going to go to their homeroom teacher, then their reading teacher, then their math teacher, and then their “specials” teacher (music/library/PE/STEAM). Things need to “flow” more naturally and less by our traditional clock. The same is true for teachers “checking in” at a certain time and then “clocking out” at the same time they normally would if they were on campus. Can we finally admit that teaching is hardly a nine-to-five endeavor and make adjustments to fit this present challenge? What I mean is that both learning and “teaching” (which is really one-part creating & posting the curriculum, and one part communicating with students) need to be done in the most efficient manner that actually takes advantage of not having to go anywhere and is being done from the comforts of home (assuming one’s home is “comfortable”).
When I was recovering from my illness in 2014, I couldn’t sit for long stretches (and it turns out that too much extended sitting is very bad for the human body!). I heard of something called the “Pomodoro Technique,” which employs a timer, where one commits to focusing on a specific task for 25-minutes, and then takes a five-minute break before beginning the next 25-minute session. In my case I needed to walk around for the five-minute break to relieve my back and backside and then get back to work. A similar method should be used by families and remote teachers to avoid burn-out and mix things up enough so that whatever task is being addressed it gets one’s full focus and concentration and allows for recharging throughout the day. Twenty-five minutes to do mental work, walk away from five minutes and do something fun, then if more time is needed twenty-five minutes again, take a break for five, then maybe move on to something more physical or at least less mental.
Yeah, it might be “Spring Break” but I’m still working, because stuff has to be ready to go next week and you can’t share it until you make it and post it before hand. So, the district might only recognize my time from Monday to Friday from 8:30 to 3:47, but we all know that’s just the tip of the actual iceberg and it’s up to all us to now manage our time, energy and focus during this current challenge. Turns out that surviving this COVID-19 thing is going to require a little time management. Oh boy, here we go!
- The Pomodoro Technique, https://francescocirillo.com/pages/pomodoro-technique
- iOS app: Focus Keeper – Time Management, https://apps.apple.com/us/app/focus-keeper-time-management/id867374917 (I’m testing out this one, but there are several other apps available, search for “pomodoro”)