How to cope with anxiety during lockdown

Sponsored: Chris Pearse, managing director and tutor at Teachitright, shares his thoughts and advice on how teachers can cope with anxiety during lockdown

For the thousands of teachers who are at home in lockdown this must be a strange, unparalleled time to live in.

As a former primary school teacher, I vividly remember the incredibly vibrant, emotive environment of the classroom. Every day was different, but each always had moments of joy.

Inquisitive pupils eager to learn, assistants ready to support and guide, and colleagues to encourage, inspire confidence and share ideas. Teachers working innovatively were constantly trying new strategies to inspire and motivate their pupils to achieve and learn, whilst ensuring that everyone felt assured, safe and cared for.

We shared a buoyant staffroom where anecdotes were shared, gripes were brought, birthday cakes consumed! Bustling playgrounds were full of laughter and we watched friendships being built. Staff shared good practice with colleagues and moaned, listened, marked, prepared – until the caretaker shook their keys! We had a mission and we were indefatigable in pursuit of it.

Let us pause though for a while and consider what all these events have in common. Surely, the main link is the social interaction – one of the main things we are missing in lockdown!

I am sure teachers are pining to be back in their classrooms, mourning the loss of a feeling of control over their students’ progress and development. They must not fret; at some stage that norm will resume and teachers will continue to educate, probably better than ever before due to this unique experience.

They must not fret; at some stage that norm will resume and teachers will continue to educate, probably better than ever before due to this unique experience

In many ways for the first few months back our teachers will need to be ‘supercharged’ as the health workers have been during this pandemic.

Meanwhile teachers are working hard to provide the best support and guidance that they can, from their remote locations. They understand that their class sizes have doubled. They are now required to use their skills to support parents and guardians too as they strive to educate their children at home.

Added to their usual long list of jobs teachers are now wondering what advice they can give to these fledgling educators.

Children and adults thrive on praise. However difficult a child is finding their learning, teachers remember to focus on the positive and find something to praise however small. ‘I like the way you asked/answered my question’ or, ‘your handwriting is great’, will elicit a willingness to try even harder.

If in doubt, ‘You are trying so hard’ never fails. At this time teachers must remember to apply this strategy to their own learning.

They must remember that this situation is a learning experience for them and they must acknowledge that their best is often amazing. We are not good at patting ourselves on the back but now we must give ourselves permission to do so.

Listed below are a few ways that teachers can cope with this unique time:

  • Keep in touch with colleagues, parents, guardians and students. Our strength is in our communication skills and we can still use them via social media. A call or a FaceTime to colleagues, parents, guardians or a struggling pupil may be just the motivation they need.
  • Ensure that community feeling is not lost. Encourage your pupils to share pictures of their work with each other and to praise each other fulsomely.
  • Don’t worry about pupils falling behind. Focus on what pupils will have learnt and look forward to seeing how they have developed in so many different ways.
  • Prepare for the eventual return – remaining positive about the impact it will have on students.
  • Encourage your students to keep a diary so that they can share their experiences from when they were off school.
  • Be old-fashioned. Send each child a handwritten note telling them about something that might interest them. Give them a small personal challenge, or something to find out about so that they are motivated to reply to you at school. Tell them what you have been up to. Send them a weekly motivational message.

At Galore Park, we have created a range of resources to help support teachers during school closures. These include digital resources, practical tips and advice on our blog, and information for parents and guardians home schooling. Find out more here.

PLUS, we are offering 20% off all 11+ and 13+ revision and practice print resources until 14 July 2020. Find out more and order online here.

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