Tena Koutou Katoa, Welcome to Term 2, 2020. A term like we have never seen before and a time when hauora has come to the forefront of all that we do. I hope you are all well in your bubbles and that the first days of the school term in your distance learning classroom have gone without too many hiccups. We have suddenly gone from being 'time poor' to having more time than some of us know what to do with. It is perhaps a time to reflect and consider what we value. I have been, and still am, hesitant to add to the overload that we all have about COVID19 right now, so hope that this panui hits the mark with important information for our Kahui Ako and in particular, you as Kaiako.
Teachers as Carers Teachers will be concerned about their students and the ways they are coping. We have a huge number of students in our Kahui Ako who will be unfairly disadvantaged by the circumstances we are currently facing. As teachers we know how much we care about our students and their wellbeing. These concerns are things that in ordinary times we struggle to provide for and which will be even more so right now. Kai and resources for our students are things that we will all be thinking about and trying to work out ways to get to our whānau. Please be safe and do this only in ways that have been authorised. I know this goes against our nature, as carers, but we must see the bigger picture right now. If you want to help and if you can help, please donate to KidsCan who have been recognised as an essential service.
Too Much Information!!??!! If you are struggling with the news, your emails, your social media and all your conversations being full of everything COVID19 the Coronavirus NZ podcast gives you a summary and daily update and can help you to reduce your exposure to the numerous forums we are currently being bombarded with. player.whooshkaa.com/shows/coronavirus-nz
Some of our local cafe's have signed up for SOSCafe where you can choose to purchase a voucher for later use or donate to help keep them open in the future. You can donate and support them here. Please think abut helping out others who are less fortunate than we are in the education sector where we have retained our jobs. SOS CafeHelping local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic
It is really important for you to prioritise your health and your whānau.
Work Spaces I strongly recommend setting up a space in your house that is for teaching/working if this is possible. It doesn't have to be fancy, it just helps to differentiate between teaching and home expectations for you and your whanau.
Working From Home Please make sure that you keep your work hours sensible. There is a tendency to feel that because we are at home that we are not working hard enough or long enough. I suspect there are a number of us who are busy making ourselves busy. Set times for your online classroom and stick to them, set meeting times and stick to them, decide when your work day is over and pack up your office to signal to yourself that the work day is over. And stick to it! Others may have different work hours to you and thats ok. We do not need to be, and should not be, on call 24/7. My personal recommendations include:
keeping your cell phone number private by blocking you number before calling parents or students.
closing your laptop and putting it away at the end of you work day
changing out of your 'work clothes'
getting out of the house for some fresh air and exercise -in your local area
This helps keep your work hours under control.
Taking Breaks Make sure you are stopping work for morning and afternoon tea breaks and drinking plenty of water. It is very easy to get caught up in the next task and not stop for enough breaks. Good ergonomics and posture will help you feel good each day and stay well long term. Keeping it Professional It is probably terribly obvious that it is important that teachers get up and get ready for school in the same way they would if they are physically leaving the house i.e. get up, wash, get dressed, have breakfast and be ready for work on time. Routines are important and professional dress and demeanour helps us to maintain our sense of normalcy and get into the zone . If you have not yet figured it out you can put a background on your zoom meeting to block out what is happening behind you so your whānau don't embarrass you!
Mentally Preparing for the Longhaul While we have been hearing that we may be back at school as soon as the 29th April it is unlikely that this will be everyone, or that it will be all at the same time. From my own experiences with long distance walking I know that this can be very difficult mentally. Being told you have 10km left to walk and then finding it is closer to 15km can be the thing that breaks you mentally. To keep myself prepared I have not yet set an end date for this lockdown purely so that I am not looking for the finish line yet. A finish line that comes sooner that you are ready for it is much easier to cope with than one that is too far away. Another of my favourite podcasts provides a wellness checklist for getting through the lockdown and managing stress. podcasts.apple.com/nz/podcast/episode-143-wellness-check-immunity-boosting-during/id1207975008?i=1000469630598
FREE Stress Management and Wellbeing Presentation available by Zoom email: firstname.lastname@example.org to make a booking
Learning Support I am sure you all know how important it is for our students to achieve success in the tasks being set. This is a great time to be thinking about how differentiated learning for our students can look, when we are already thinking about working in different ways. Our Learning Support Coordinators and SENCo can also help you with planning and trialling new ideas for individual students. Keep them in the loop and ensure they are working alongside you, whānau and your school Learning Assistants.
Distance Classrooms Keep these simple, don't overload families who will likely also be working from home. Think about using one consistent platform for sharing learning activities, and one consistent platform for meet ups. Now is not the time to collect and spray apps at our learners. Focus on keeping up connections and relationships - that's what actually matters.
Take, care, be safe, be kind (especially to yourself) Nga mihi nui Debbie Holmes - Across School Leader / Deputy Principal - Kaitao Intermediate