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Advice for teachers on looking after your wellbeing during the Covid-19 lockdown

Teachers know that looking after their wellbeing can be a challenge even under normal circumstances. But teaching during lockdown means working in ways you have never had to before, with little time to prepare, and facing challenges that you may not normally face. It’s vital to look after your own wellbeing in the midst of this, so here are some ideas that may help:

1. Use your strengths. You are being asked to work in news ways, with little preparation. Focus on using your strengths, think about what you know you can already do well as a teacher and how to use that to help you navigate remote teaching – now may not be the time to start learning something new if you are feeling overwhelmed. Also think about how you can leverage other strengths such as humour, teamwork, or curiosity.

2. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. When teaching remotely, you cannot expect the same of yourself or your students as you would in your physical classroom. Don’t put pressure on yourself to emulate what you see others doing online, especially if e-learning is new to you. 

3. Coping with uncertainty. The current situation brings uncertainty around new ways of teaching as well as the possible duration of lockdown and the impact this will have on students. Thinking about even the small things you are grateful for has been shown to help people feel more positive, and even helps to reduce symptoms of depression. 

4. Connecting with others. Teaching remotely means you do not have the same access to professional support or social connection that you typically do. Find time for regular check ins with your colleagues.  There are some great online platforms where teachers are connecting and sharing resources, such as Facebook groups and subject associations. 

5. Routines and roles. Having a regular routine during uncertain times is linked to higher wellbeing. Many of you will have competing demands, so don’t try to emulate your normal school routine, but think about your key priorities and how you can balance these throughout the day or the week to create a routine. Think also about the many roles you may need to fill in your professional and personal lives, but remember not to put too much pressure on yourself and just do what you can. Ensure that one of your roles is looking after your own wellbeing.

6. Seeking help from other places. You may need to seek help from other people beyond your school or social networks. Please reach out for help if you need it. Many schools are registered with EAP services who are offering telephone support and e-counselling during the lockdown period. You can contact them through their website or on 0800 327 669.

There are many agencies offering help and support during this time, including the following phone helplines that are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:

  • Mental Health Crisis (0800 800 717)  
  • Lifeline (0800 543 354 or 0800 LIFELINE) for counselling and support
  • Samaritans (0800 726 666) for confidential support for anyone who is lonely or in emotional distress
  • Depression Helpline (0800 111 757 or free text 4206) to talk to a trained counsellor about how you are feeling or to ask any questions
  • Healthline (0800 611 116) for advice from trained registered nurses

Local Civil Defence Emergency Management groups are also providing assistance to people who are struggling to afford groceries, or are struggling to get food, medicine or other essential supplies through family, friends or other means. 

By Rachel Cann

PREPARED FOR THE EDUCATION HUB BY

Rachel Cann

Rachel is a PhD student at the University of Auckland. She completed her Master’s thesis on the actions that educational leaders can take to help enhance teacher wellbeing. She continues to explore teacher wellbeing for her doctoral studies, in particular using the perspectives of positive psychology and social network theory. Previously, Rachel was a head of science in an Auckland secondary school, and has also led cross-curricular teams of teachers for project-based learning, pastoral care, and teaching as inquiry.