Teach Middle East Magazine Apr - Jun 2020 Issue 3 Volume 7 - Page 52

Wellbeing TAKING A HARD LOOK AT TEACHER WELLBEING DURING COVID-19 BY: CHRISTINA MORRIS wellbeing cannot be overstated. This is where a very understanding and empathetic senior management team can make all the difference. Further in this article, I will give some useful tips on how you can help to create better work-life balance at this time. Social and emotional wellbeing H ow are you doing? Seriously, how are you really doing? Take a moment to think about your answer to this question. Often when we are asked how we are, we tend to just give the answer we always give, without even thinking about the question. Not this time. This time I want you to actually stop and think about yourself. Think about how you are truly feeling and how you are coping under the current circumstances. If like me, you are an educator in the Middle East, then your life is far from normal. With less than two weeks' notice, we as teachers and school leaders have gone from having a school full of students, to becoming online educators. Some of us have had to become bloggers, vloggers, YouTubers and podcasters all in a bid to keep teaching and learning going. We have done all of this without skipping a beat, but at what cost? Workload Teachers already had an enormous 52 Term 3 Apr - Jun 2020 workload, but since the school closure and the switch to distance learning, many teachers have seen their already unbearable workload double or even triple. The pressure to be always on and available is more than most can bear. Teachers are spending nearly every waking hour, preparing lessons, recording videos, giving feedback, answering queries from students and parents, among other duties. It is hard to put into words the toll that this is taking on some teachers. Some schools are better at helping teachers cope with this workload strain than others, but what is certain is that everyone is feeling it. Work-life balance Work-life balance goes hand in hand with workload. How much time are you able to spend on taking care of yourself and your family during this time? I cannot begin to imagine how teachers who are also parents are managing to juggle, homeschooling their own children, while providing a quality education for their students. The toll that this is taking on teachers' After the Bell If you are someone who struggles with anxiety and depression, the current climate is likely to exacerbate these conditions. Even if you do not normally struggle with mental illness, because of what is happening, this may be the first time you find yourself feeling anxious or even depressed. Do not dismiss these feelings. They are real, and you should acknowledge them. This is not the time to ignore your social and emotional wellbeing and that of your colleagues and friends. Reach out. Ask for and offer help wherever you can. Many teachers are far away from family and friends. Many are extremely worried about their loved ones in other countries. Some are unable to access the medication and support that they would normally have, because of the lockdown. Check on your friends and colleagues, especially those who live alone. If you need help call someone, if the first person you call is not able to help you, don't give up, try someone else. It is vital that you place your social and emotional wellbeing at the top of your list of priorities. Finance Not a lot is being said about this in the media, but there are many teachers who are experiencing and will experience financial difficulties during this time. Some schools have already started to lay off teachers, while others are cutting salaries. There are also teachers whose spouses have lost their jobs. These are often not addressed, but they are causing great stress and strain at this time. The financial effects