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teacher in library sorting books

Around the country, teachers have begun to return to classrooms after the curveball that was COVID-19. While school years can be stressful even at the best of times, COVID-19 has served up more challenges than anyone could’ve predicted.

For teachers, it has been a time of serious uncertainty, requiring quick thinking and perseverance as the entire student body shifted to online learning. While heading back to campus may be a welcome relief, it’s normal to feel a little unsettled.

Not all heroes wear capes

The pandemic has highlighted that our teachers deserve a serious pat on the back. As you transition back into a more regular teaching routine and work takes over, memories of the stress of the past few months may quickly fade. But before you’re deluged by a sea of papers that need marking, take a moment to acknowledge your victories during these trying times.

Own the appreciation: Celebrate what you and your peers achieved when dealing with an unprecedented situation. If parents express their gratitude to you, accept their thanks graciously, and remind yourself (and your colleagues) of what a world-class effort you all put in.

Self-care: If the virus has taught us anything, it’s that taking care of ourselves is essential. Put aside five minutes at the start of each day to check-in with yourself, whether it’s chilling out with a pre-class coffee or taking a few deep breaths before the bell goes.

Same same, but different

While heading back to school will feel familiar, there will be plenty of changes as students and teachers adjust to learning in a post-COVID environment.

It will undoubtedly take time for everyone to come to grips with the new normal, but there are ways to ensure the re-entry process goes as smoothly as possible.

Maintain your routines: Routines increase feelings of safety and security, which is something we’re all craving after so much destabilisation. Maintaining your routines – whether it’s daily exercise or listening to a podcast before work – will help you to regain a sense of control.

Discuss changes openly: Many parts of the school experience will feel different for returning students. Socially distanced classrooms, changes to playground rules, an increased focus on hygiene, and staggered break times will all have an impact.

Help students to embrace these changes by discussing what to expect, rather than simply telling them how things will change. Having open and honest conversations with students will provide a degree of predictability and transparency.

Live and learn: What comes next?

You might be really looking forward to the school holidays, and there has never been a better (or more deserved) time to reset and look to the future. There are plenty of ways to make the most of your break.

Road trip: While travel restrictions might mean a sunny overseas trip is off the cards, pack up the car for a road trip with friends and family. Even if it’s just a wintery weekend away, changing your environment will leave you feeling recharged.

School switch-off: Teachers tend to socialise together – great minds think alike! – but make it your mission to catch up with friends outside of your school social circle. By focusing on people and conversations not connected to your work, you’ll truly be able to switch off from the job.

Spend time on a hobby: Honing in on a hobby during your school holidays is a smart way to draw a line under the COVID-19 era and start anew. Perfect your downward dog, learn a language, or try something for the first time.

What can I do now?