Survival tips: 5 ways teachers can feel less isolated

Thought about hosting a team Christmas film night or leaving some chocolate and a note for a colleague? Discover these and other top tips to lift teachers' spirits during lockdown this term
13th November 2020, 4:20pm

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Survival tips: 5 ways teachers can feel less isolated

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archive/survival-tips-5-ways-teachers-can-feel-less-isolated
Xmas Zoom Party

It is fair to say that social distancing in 2020 has left everyone feeling a little isolated. The iteration of Lockdown 2.0 has brought out a flurry of online social invites, from Zoom quizzes and virtual book groups to more search terms about the perfect sourdough-slash-banana bread - that is, if you didn't perfect this in Lockdown One.

However, for teachers, the feeling of isolation has been heightened as their professional social hubs - the staffroom - have been emptied out from isolating colleagues and the need to preserve safe pupil bubbles. Anyone who has worked in schools knows the value of a quick debrief about a lesson over tea and biscuits, or a moment of hilarity over someone's disastrous attempt to recreate the showstopper on Bake Off. Teachers are no longer getting this, and they miss it.


Coronavirus: Covid can't dampen schools' Christmas spirit

Wellbeing: My prescription for half-term? Cake and gin

Related: 5 ways you can still run your school nativity this year


Education consultant Mal Krishnasamy has canvassed opinion on Twitter, to find out the best ways of supporting staff wellbeing as the winter nights draw in. 

Been 1:1 & team coaching at a MAT. Staff miss each other, miss the comraderie. SLT talk about operational impact of covid, after a chat with CEO he'll also be talking to HTs about impact on staff wellbeing. Can we create a list of things being done to support staff wellbeing? pic.twitter.com/XDt1U1GLhv

- Mal Krishnasamy 🙋🏾‍♀️ #ubuntu (@MalCPD) November 12, 2020

 

Here are the top tips suggested by teachers, school staff and coaches for surviving bubble-working this term:

1. Create a virtual staffroom on Teams

In order to maintain safe pupil "bubbles", staff are increasingly eating on their own. Instead of a solitary sandwich, Ms Krishnasamy suggests an online staffroom on Teams or Zoom. Seeing a friendly face and having a catch-up could be a lifeline for teachers.

2. Organise a virtual quiz night

For teachers missing the camaraderie of the odd night out with colleagues, a quiz night could be a fun way to boost morale, helping staff relax with a glass of fizz. Quizzes have been so prolific over this year that many complain of "Zoom fatigue", but the element of competition is a welcome distraction from that pile of Booker nominees you haven't started.

3. A nice cup of tea

Ben Brown of Education Roundtables suggests simple comforts, like taking a tired staff member a hot drink or some chocolate during the day as a pick-me-up. 

"Taking the opportunity to deliver a hot cup of tea to a member of staff is much appreciated - if you can also manage to fit in a conversation while doing it, then that is even better," Brown says.

His guide also suggests chocolate, and with dwindling ways to mark the festive season, a "treat" day every week could be a brilliant way of keeping people's spirits up. 

Teacher Kimberley Tuck said: "I think people are missing the connection, so maybe each member of staff could pick someone each week to leave a little note and treat."

4. Silent disco, anyone?

Depending on your level of extroversion, the idea of a virtual silent disco will either leave you claiming "technical issues" with your camera or ready to break out your 2005 hip-hop routine in your kitchen. Education Roundtables' guide suggests this as an alternative to the Christmas night out, although it acknowledges that "it does look weird watching people dancing to different music".

However, one possible lesson from this annus horribilis is that when it comes to online social events, the quirkier the better.

If not a disco, a virtual film night of Christmas "classics" could be the thing. Teacher Lauran Hampshire-Dell has compiled a thread of top-quality streaming service numbers, all of which could make for an amusing watch.

Side-note: the films should, ideally, be cheesy and fun. This is not the time to impress your beleaguered colleagues with your knowledge of Werner Herzog. Instead, the one where a secret Australian billionaire meets a long-lost princess at the mall will definitely do the trick.

❄️CHRISTMAS MOVIE THREAD ❄️

This year has been a huge disappointment, and I'm relying on Christmas to bring some much needed sparkle and joy back into life.
I have decided to set myself the "challenge" of watching/ranking every Netflix-produced Christmas film. Stay tuned!👇🏻👇🏻

- Lauran HD (@lauranteaches) October 28, 2020

5. Create calm with some classical music

Some have suggested using classical music as staff and students enter the school building, to create a tranquil atmosphere for the rest of the day. 

Help for wellbeing:Calm Classical music plays as you come into school creating atmosphere of calm & purpose @NCCBrent. Values being actively used. Art work - plenty of it @alperton Flowers, plants. Walk & talk meetings in playground. Dancing bef4 school in playground-Jerusalema.

- V&V (@VandVLearning) November 12, 2020

And others have called for a socially distanced area in the school playground designated for staff to catch up.

It's certainly important to check in on colleagues at this time of year - 2020 has been gruelling, but giving staff members some fun events to look forward to and moral support could make all the difference.

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