In February 2020, I wrote my first article for True Education Partnerships about ‘avoiding teacher burnout’ – in the next month, education took a turn that I could never have expected, alongside the rest of the world. I look back at my article now and can’t help but think ‘if only I/ we had known’. I talked about prioritising, taking a break, having lunch and re-considering workload. I didn’t mention managing an online classroom for 12 hours a day, teaching in a socially distanced way or considering transition when the majority of the children aren’t in school. That is because I wasn’t aware that any of those would be issues until a few months later.
2020 has been, without doubt, the most bizarre year for education. However, it has been one of the best years for me as a teacher. I have been moved so far out of my comfort zone and have had to teach in ways that seemed highly theoretical until schools closed for all but key workers in March. I learnt to use digital platforms and to give feedback to children at a distance. I learnt which work to set and which not to and I learnt how to motivate children virtually. On June 1st I learnt the art of ‘bubbling’ – teaching a very small group of children away from all other children and it took time to get used to – for the adults and the children.
Now I have one week to go, I can honestly say that I will really miss the children in my bubble. We were thrown together in the oddest of times and learnt how to work well together. In September, they will start Secondary School and I will meet my new year 4 class – such a strange end to one year and start to the next.
As this year academic year comes to a close, I think it is so important that all educators stop and give themselves a huge pat on the back. They/ you have been flexible, resilient and brilliant. Educators have responded to everything that the government has asked of them and the majority have gone so much further.
So my advice to everyone in education over the summer is this – stop! Stop being busy and instead:
- Give yourself time – relax, let your hair down and do things that you want to do. Don’t do them because you have to, but do them because you want to.
- Decide what you want the next 12 months to look like and then plan for that. Do you want to continue to work full-time? Go up the career ladder? Step off the career ladder? Plan what you want to do and then think about how you can make it happen.
- Breathe – take time to walk, meditate, swim, sail and just be. As educators we rarely allow ourselves to just stop and breathe but it is fine to do that. We are human after all.
- Look after your wellbeing. Our wellbeing is paramount because, as educators, our children are reliant on us being mentally well. Eat well, sleep well and talk to others about anything that is causing you undue stress.
September will come along so quickly so please make the most of this time off. One final note, please don’t forget to keep connecting with others on #TinyVoiceTuesdayUnites (Twitter). Many people come off Twitter over the summer, but this can be a vital source of support for so many – use it to support you and if you are able to, be there to support others.
I hope you have a great summer and I really hope to connect with you all someday soon.