7 Ways to Balance Distance Learning and your Regular Life


Hi Teachers! Like you, I am teaching from home now and let me say this: although my new co-workers are darling (I mean my cats and dog) I work better alone. That happens to be unfortunate for me right now since there is nowhere for me to go. Attempting to balance my new work life and my home life has been close to impossible. I am constantly thinking about things to change and how to make this whole thing more engaging for my students. However I had a revelation this past week: I need to stop. I have been at this for 3.5 weeks now and want to share some things I have learned.


1. I have to embrace the chaos

Here’s the thing, I have 4 cats and a dog. I love my classroom and I love my cats. NEVER did I think that the cats would be in my classroom. Are there times when the cat jumps up to make an appearance during my zoom meeting? Yes. Is there anything I can do about it? You think so? Well then you don’t have cats! I have learned that it is better to just embrace this chaos, let the class say hello to Estelle and then shoo her away. Works every time. It doesn’t happen often but when it does it is best to just embrace it. Also, I have a half full cup of coffee next to me during all my lessons. And sometimes I will drink coffee while I teach. Why? Because this is still tiring people!


2. I had to set a schedule for myself and stick with it.

I love me a schedule. I love to have one in place, I love to talk about it and then when I get home it all derails. But now that I am not coming home and I am just AT home the schedule was so hard. Like I said, I would think of something to do for the kids and I would rush to do it. I would jot it down and then 3 hours later have a lesson for it. Before I knew it my husband was coming down stairs from working upstairs all day and I hadn’t done a thing I said I would do around the house. Set a schedule that you can really stick to and do it. Perhaps you are going to work up until 2:30 and then begin your other obligations. I realized that we are in this for the long haul so I need to make my enthusiasm last!


3. Find a place where you can teach

I don’t have this. I will be honest. For the last 4 weeks I have been set up with my laptop at my kitchen counter, teacher papers everywhere. My teaching supplies are in shambles and I have read aloud books that can’t be returned to the library all over the place. Finding a place to store all your teaching materials is key. I am going to be working on this so that I have a place to put everything so when it is time to clean up and move on, it’s time to clean up and move on. Staring at teacher material all day isn’t going to help your mind shut off.


4. Don’t worry about being Teacher of the Year

I have a Start Today Journal and everyday in that journal I write down as the #5 Dream I Made Happen: I am Teacher of the Year. Now here is the thing, there is no such thing as Teacher of the Year where I teach. But I know what Teacher of the Year feels like to me and how I need to present myself as a teacher to think that I am Teacher of the Year. I worried that during this time it was something that I couldn’t do. It was going to be too hard or I wasn’t going to connect with my students. Here’s the thing: They love you and love to see your face. Do not worry about being teacher of the year, just worry about being their teacher right now.

5. Keep up your good habits

Now more than ever we need to ensure that we are staying healthy. As a teacher I NEVER drank a lot of water, I mean I can’t use the restroom whenever I need so I had to ration. Now that I am home I can have water whenever I want! Make your health a priority during this time. Get the exercise, drink the water and eat healthy foods. I think that for me it has helped me get through this. OF course I still have the occasional cookie but benign control of my health makes this a little easier!

6. Channel Elsa: Let it go

Can I get it all done everyday? NOPE. I used to think that I could. I would have a list of all the teacher things I was going to do, and then a list of all the home things I was going to do. I was going to rock all of this and my husband was going to be so proud of me that I could do all the things. Well there are days that I can barely get anything done because it’s sheer chaos. There are also days where everything does get done. I needed to realize that I have to prioritize my day and what is going on. I need to look at what my day entails and figure out how to make the most of my time. You do to, and don’t let anyone say you aren’t doing a good job because you are rocking it!


7. Have fun!

Ok, this isn’t the ideal situation. It isn’t super fun and there are days when all you want to do is run away. But you can’t. For our students this is their new normal. So have fun. Do the read aloud story to them, play sill music so they can all dance “together”, let them share their pets…whatever they need. Remember that they are humans with feelings as well and chances are they are feeling what we as teachers are feeling. So give them that virtual hug and have fun together! Things didn’t go your way today and it wasn’t so fun? Just remember that there’s always tomorrow.

What are you doing as a teacher to stay focused and excited about all of this? I would love to know! I am always looking for guest bloggers who are teachers so send me an email at Erin.merrill@gmail.com so that we can connect!

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