The following article comes from primary school teacher Toria Bono, who explains how teachers can manage their mental wellbeing and its importance during this challenging period.

I waited until after Boris Johnson’s speech to write this piece as I wanted clarity before putting fingers to keyboard. All week there has been immense speculation about whether schools will return before the Summer holiday with newspaper headlines convincing the general public that there was no doubt.

I know this because my mum, who I speak to on a daily basis, asked me what was happening with my school on most days last week. She said that she had read in the paper that schools were going back and I had to explain the concept of clickbait. Headlines created for sensational purposes and to say that all schools and educators are returning to work in the midst of an unresolved international pandemic is sensational.

My hope tonight was that I would receive clarity to put my mind at rest, my mum’s mind at rest and the nation’s mind at rest and I didn’t. I feel disappointed but fundamentally nothing has changed and I need to remain positive. Tomorrow is business as usual and over the last seven weeks, I have learnt how to maintain my physical, mental and emotional wellbeing whilst teaching from home.

1. Structure Your Day

Make sure that you have a plan for your working day. Have a specific start time and end time and ensure that you take breaks throughout the day.

I tend to structure my day similar to the teaching day with a morning break and lunch-time. I make sure that I break at 3pm when the children would have gone home and then mark the work done that day.

2. Connect With Others

This idea went hand in hand with my vision, and so I began allowing students to lead single lessons. Teachers would be elected democratically and use pre-designed materials to present to their peers.

After allowing multiple opportunities for the children to develop their confidence, behaviour management strategies and to experience low level disruption from the other side of their desks, they were given the opportunity to run the classroom for the entire day, and although this experience inevitably presented difficulties, the majority of my students found the process both enjoyable and rewarding.

Somewhat strangely for the UK, I took the majority of my class forward into year five, where we continued playing with new student-led concepts. (Funnily enough, the Danish remain with their classes for extended periods of time and I firmly believe that this helps to build strong rapport and routine).

I’m a huge advocate for the sharing of knowledge and almost always encourage discussion and work-related chat in my classroom.

Keep walking during lockdown

3. Move

I find that it is so easy to sit in front of a screen for upwards of twelve hours a day at the moment. Make sure that you get outside – walk, run, skip, play sports – just ensure that you move. This is so important for your mental and emotional wellbeing as well as keeping yourself fit and healthy.

4. Get Support

Twitter has been my life-line over the past seven weeks. As the founder of #TinyVoiceTuesdayUnites I have a lot of great educators who I connect with on a daily basis and gain support from. Tonight, I put a tweet out straight after Boris’ speech and thirty people responded immediately. I am not alone and neither are they.

If you haven’t discovered #edutwitter yet then follow me @toriaclaire and I will show you the way. You don’t have to be alone either.

5. Plan

This may seem strange as I said this in point 1 but that was purely about your working day. Plan joyous things to fill your day aside work – things that support your wellbeing.

Writing a list at the beginning of your day can help you to do these things as sometimes looking after yourself can be forgotten. Write on your list five activities each day that you are doing to support you – reading, writing, gardening, playing, yoga, meditation – the list goes on. You need to look after you otherwise you’ll be no use to anyone else.

I doubt there will be clarity anytime soon but I know there will continue to be a great deal of speculation and click-bait. I hope my top tips help you to look after your wellbeing. If you have any top tips I’d love to know them so please comment below and if you like this post – click like.

I hope to see many of you on Twitter very soon!

I look forward to hearing from you,
Toria
Primary teacher Toria Bono

Author

Toria Bono

Toria Bono is a primary school teacher in the South East of England. Through her blog Teaching Others & Learning All The Time, she shares her experiences, opinions and lessons learned in the classroom. She also empowers other eduleaders on Twitter via the #TinyVoiceTuesday and #TinyVoiceTuesdayUnites hashtags.

Follow Toria on Twitter – @ToriaClaire