How to work from home effectively as a teacher or parent

We are in the middle of testing times. Handling the current situation has required a shift in the daily routines and working lives of many. Although this may be a significant and worrying change for some, it is important to keep a level head as we all push forward and cope with these changes.

Working from home can prove especially difficult for teachers having to teach remotely, and parents having to balance looking after their child whilst also working. This may feel overwhelming, but there are some simple changes you can implement to make this work for you.


What Does the Research Say?

In 2019, an online community-based outsourcing company called Airtasker, carried out a study to assess the effects of working from home. They found that employees benefitted as they didn’t have to commute to work. It also increased productivity and led to employees following healthier lifestyles. The same researchers also found that office workers are unproductive for an average of 37 minutes a day, whereas those employees who worked from home were only unproductive for 27 minutes a day. These results show that working from home can have positive effects, even if it is unsettling at first.


Working From Home For Teachers

This is a new and difficult experience for many, especially for teachers. The very nature of this job requires you to be interactive and engaging - maintaining this through social distancing may be confusing. This is an unprecedented challenge that comes with a lot of pressure. Everyone is worrying how this situation will impact students, but teachers are experiencing this for the first time too.

It is important to take the time you need to get to grips with working from home and online teaching. If you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your colleagues are in the same boat and ready to discuss the best ways to create effective teaching for all students. Try to avoid implementing new techniques, and instead bring it back to the basics. Focus on solidifying student knowledge and providing simple tasks when introducing new topics. 


Take care of yourself

In times of uncertainty, stress happens very easily. This can negatively impact the way we work and our productivity levels. Looking after your mental health and maintaining your physical health is especially important to keep yourself calm. Remind yourself that working from home is the best way you can contribute to controlling this situation. Take breaks when you feel you need them and try and spend some time away from your screen. Set daily goals that are achievable, and maintain a routine that keeps you active, productive, and relaxed.


Interact with your students

Clear, concise communication is the key to effective teaching. Whether you are video calling students or sending them work at the start of each school day, the lines of communication need to be open and easy to access. Give students your email address or create a Slack for your classroom. This will allow students to ask you questions whilst helping you to keep track of their progress. Most importantly, make sure you give them excellent feedback - this is the best way to help them learn independently more easily.


How to Help Your Students

School plays a very important social role in the lives of students. Many will miss spending break times with their friends, collaborating on work and taking part in afterschool activities.

To help them get through this isolation, boredom and sometimes frustration, encourage them to continue enjoying their learning - just in different ways. Here are a few ways you can make the transition easier:

  • Engage with them via video lessons and discussions
  • Give them your email so they can ask you questions as they would in the classroom
  • Introduce them to interactive learning platforms
  • Use this as an opportunity to open their minds up to different types of learning


Advice for Parents

These are challenging times for parents too - many have had to adapt to working from home, all the while keeping their children entertained, motivated and healthy. As well as these 11 things parents can do help their child thrive at school in normal times, here’s some more helpful advice.

Helping your child maintain a routine while learning from home infographic

Create a schedule

During this time, schools may provide a timetable for students to follow. Have a look at this and make some changes to adapt it to your child. Help them maintain a regular routine by waking up early, having breakfast, getting dressed, and then sitting down to get started with their school work. Teachers will have provided them with enough work to keep their brains stimulated but it is up to you to keep them focused. Create a schedule that leaves space for a family lunch, play, and enough time to get your child’s school work finished. A physical timetable will help to keep them on track and make the transition to remote learning a little easier.


Their brain (and yours) needs a break

Breaks are crucial if you want to stay motivated and focused. Asking children to sit at a desk for 5+ hours might work for a day or two, but they will eventually be itching to get up and run around. Give them well-timed breaks, and make sure you take some for yourself. Working from home is still working.

Also, don’t stay cooped up inside all day long. Get some fresh air in your garden if you have one, or take your children for a walk, whilst maintaining distance from others. Where this isn’t possible, crack open a window and take a few minutes to clear your mind before you get back to work.


Final Thoughts

These are difficult times for everybody. We are all struggling to adapt to the situations we are presented with and are experiencing some trial and error as we go. It is important to stay level-headed and calm for yourself and your students or child. Creating a schedule and keeping communication lines open will help this process go a little more smoothly. Ultimately, don’t place too harsh of an expectation on how your teaching or parenting needs to be.

We have put together free resource six-packs to help support you during lockdown. There is something for everyone: teachers, parents and students. Download them for free here.

We also recommend our free printable goal setting worksheets. They will help students develop and maintain a good routine to promote their learning and well-being during lockdown.

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