Stories and insights on excellent education.
Open computer. Teach. Close computer. Repeat. It’s October, and we can’t believe we’re still here, implementing full-time remote learning for our scholars. Our new teachers have been teaching remotely for two months now, and we know working in front of a screen all week can be draining, especially without human contact — and scholar hugs! — to reinvigorate you. So how do our teachers manage to keep their minds and bodies energized in the remote environment? Find out below.
Start Your Mornings Early
I give myself time in the mornings before I start teaching to prepare myself for the day and do something fun. Whether it’s drinking a cup of coffee while reading, walking laps while chatting with a friend or family member, or working on a puzzle — feeling like I have the morning to myself makes me feel so much more focused as I head into my day.
— Stephanie Cornelius, SA Bronx 1
Get Some Fresh Air
Instead of lounging around or staring at your phone on your breaks, go for a walk. I go on walks at least twice a day and it invigorates me every time! Breathe in the fresh air. Revel in the sunshine. Even if it’s just to go get that cup of coffee on your corner, it’ll get you moving and remind you that the world is more than just your workspace!
— Shannon Beatty, SA Bushwick
Set Work Boundaries
It’s so hard when the lines between work and home begin to blur. I’m a firm believer in being wholly present — at work and in your home life. But in order to do that, you have to set boundaries and avoid distractions. You need time for just you, too! Every day, I have to actively remind myself to close my computer after I’m done with work. I don’t open that computer until I “go to school” the next day. It might seem simple, but it’s done wonders for my sanity.
— Danielle Abrahams, SA Far Rockaway
It can be extremely taxing to sit in front of a computer all day — especially when so many of us are used to being on our feet all day and getting energy from working with kids! Since I no longer have to commute in the mornings, I now have time to go running or exercise before work. At first, I really had to push myself to build this as a healthy habit and make it “essential” part of my day. But it really paid off; breaking a sweat kept me grounded and boosted my mood in ways I never expected. So get those endorphins flowing! The best part? It’s scientifically proven to make you happier!
— Meredith McDevitt, SA Crown Heights
Find Your Routine
Routine, routine, routine! Once my co-teacher and I figured out our schedule, life became so much simpler. We met at the same time every day to discuss our plan — topics we were going to discuss, activities we were going to do — and we didn’t deviate from that plan during the day. It freed up an enormous amount of space in my brain, when I would usually be worrying about what was coming next!
— Elena Buchsbaum, SA Bushwick
I can’t stress this enough — organize your home and your workspace! Remember that your home is truly your own little classroom. It’s so important to keep the materials you need by your side so you don’t have to run around during the day to get them. Since I’m a basketball coach, all I need is my computer, bottle of water, and basketball by my side — but I also keep my bachelor’s degree as well as my college basketball jersey hanging on my wall near my desk. Every once in a while, I’ll glance at them, and it puts me in the right headspace for the day.
— Stephen Lo Russo, SA Bergen Beach
Speak Up When You’re Struggling
Full-time remote work is a new experience for many. We’re all navigating this brave new landscape, where every day is different and some days are better than others. If you’re feeling challenged, remember that chances are, your peers are going through the same exact things you are! We all want to see each other succeed, too, so reach out if you are struggling — you’ll receive nothing but kindness and support.
— Jomar Quintana, SA Bronx 4
Be Kind To Yourself
Above all, remember that you’re human. Things are going to be tough sometimes, and it’s unrealistic to feel positive and motivated all the time. What we can do, however, is find the good amidst the chaos. We can refuse to let tough circumstances control us. We can be okay with letting things go after they’ve run their course. Staying positive doesn’t mean pretending things are okay — it means accepting things the way that they are, and trusting that they’ll work out how they’re supposed to.
— Yamiles Bonilla, SA Prospect Heights
Download A Meditation App
I found different calming apps that help with anxiety and fear. One great app I use is called Calm. It has guided meditation, music, daily prompts, and affirmations. My favorite part is the sleep stories the app has! They’re so soothing; they help me clear my head and easily fall asleep when I’ve had a long day. I also use the app Yoga Studio, which has great yoga resources for all different levels of practice.
— Stephanie Cornelius, SA Bronx 1
Make Gratitude Lists
When I first started teaching, every day I wrote down three things I was grateful for. It could have been anything from, “My morning class had amazing discourse!” to “So-and-so cracked me up during recess.” These gratitude lists became essential during remote learning. Celebrating the small joys, like 100% of my scholars signing on to class, or getting all of the tasks on my to-do list done that day, really helped me feel balanced during the first few months. It’s also fulfilling to look back through them and realize all of the wonderful things I, my scholars, and my team are capable of.
— Flannery Rollins, SA Bronx Middle School
What’s your tip for remote teaching and learning? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.