Establishing a Healthy Routine While School is Out

Amanda PostBlog, Connect Better, Lead Better, Self Care Better

TL;DR:

  • Things are unknown, uncertain, and stressful.
  • It’s important to set a schedule & give ourselves a routine.
  • Focus on what we can control instead of what we can’t.

The world around us is changing by the second, and educators have had the rugs pulled out from under them. We are craving our healthy routine, but it’s nearly impossible to have it.

At least that is how it feels.

We are used to change. Dealing with change is what we do. No sub for your teammate? You take their students in for the day.  Your principal does a surprise observation? You can switch your schedule around in your head in two seconds flat. No problem.

But when those changes involve a whirlwind 24 hours, waiting for instructions, and the possible switch to distance learning for the remainder of the school year, it can all be overwhelming.

Take a deep breath. Make a schedule. Hang in there. You can do this. Click To Tweet

Everything as I knew it has changed.

The district I work in was given a 24 hour notice of shut down for an unexpected 3 week “spring break” due to the virus circulating quickly around our state. In that short period of time, we collected what we could to send home with students, said what seemed like a very final goodbye, and watched them walk out of our school.

In what seemed like an instant, my entire world was different. On Monday, I would not be going to work or seeing my students. My routine would be nonexistent.

The weekend was spent in denial, laying on the couch and watching a television series I had seen fifty times before. Monday morning hit, and I headed into my classroom to finalize grades and pick up any personal belongings before our building was closed.

My every breath was spent being sad and angry about everything going on. By Tuesday, I was constantly checking my email, Class Dojo, and Google Classroom for anything that my students or their parents needed.

I sent videos to students and parents via Flipgrid, so that I could stay connected. I made a list of resources to send to families, professional development to catch up on, and books to better my craft. It was after ten at night before I looked at the clock.

I realized in that moment that I couldn’t keep going the way I was for three weeks or more. I was exhausted, even more so than a hard day in the classroom would have made me. Mentally, I was overwhelmed, frustrated, and obsessed. Immediately, panic set in.

How was I supposed to deal with this? What could I do to help myself?

Routine, Routine, Routine!

One of the most important things to help educators maintain their sanity is to keep some type of routine. Teachers and administrators thrive on knowing what is happening and when.

When their daily routine is completely upended, it is a shock to the system. After getting over the initial shock and anger of the situation, set up a weekday routine. It is sure to help.

There are several things to consider when setting up a schedule for your “new normal.” What is reasonable for your situation? Do you have family to consider? How are you communicating with your students during this time? What do you NEED for your mental health?

After much thought and tweaking, my schedule ended up looking something like this.

Sample Schedule

7:30-8:00: coffee/breakfast

8:00-9:00: professional development (TBT Daily Drop In is my choice)

9:00-9:15: Daily Drop in survey for students

9:15-10:00: answer parent/student questions, emails, etc.

10:00-11:00: morning workout

11:00-12:15: professional development (blogging, reading, course work, etc.)

12:15-1:00: lunch

1:00-2:00: answer parent/students questions, emails, etc.

2:00-3:00: planning time (if doing distance learning)

This schedule has helped me regain my sanity in a time of unknowns. Every teacher and administrator out there is in a different situation. What works for one person may not work for another.

No matter what it looks like, planning your day will give you a sense of control over something when everything seems to be spiraling out of control.

Does a routine really work?

One day. One day is all it took of using this schedule for my mind to calm, my sanity to return, and my heart to feel joy again.

The world is a stressful place right now, and having something to follow made all the difference in my day. I caught myself smiling and laughing for the first time since watching my students walk away on our last day.

A realistic list of things I wanted to achieve was written down. Working out was fun again. After one day, I felt like myself. I returned to the teacher that my students needed, and the person my family deserved.

Tips for Your Routine

Use the things that are most important to you to drive your planning. The most important thing to focus on right now is your family. If you have children, make sure to schedule their day first. Plan for play, exploration, a little learning, and healthy meals. Work all of that into your schedule as needed.

Another thing to think about is physical activity. Yes, you need to include some. As educators, we are on our feet for seven or more hours, constantly moving. That isn’t happening anymore. Take time for a brisk walk with your dog and your children, join a virtual workout class, lift some weights. Do whatever it takes to get your body moving.

District policies might also be a major driving factor in your development of a schedule. Right now, everyone is scrambling to figure out how or if to continue instruction. If your district is requiring that you log certain hours, include those in your schedule. If not, my suggestion is to include at least two different time slots that you can use to directly connect with students. This could be through phone calls, mailing notes, sending videos, video chats, and more.

Finally, make sure to take some time for yourself. Better yourself so that when you return to your classroom, you will be a stronger version of you. Prioritize self care, take online courses, talk with a colleague, or explore new learning methods.

None of us know how the next few months, weeks, days, or hours will go. We can control how we respond to the unknown. Setting up a schedule is one of the best ways to harbor a sense of control in this crazy world.

Take a deep breath. Make a schedule. Hang in there. You can do this.


ABOUT AMANDA POST

Amanda is a coffee obsessed second grade teacher from southeast Ohio. She enjoys teaching littles and thinking creatively to help her students learn. Amanda thrives on collaboration with peers in order to someday achieve her goal- change the world, one student at a time! Amanda couldn’t do what she does without the support of her amazing family and her dog Lily.