4 ways to have a fun and stress-free spooky holiday this year!

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Holidays in general are fun to celebrate and Halloween with all the costumes, sweets and decorations but recent years due to the pandemic and the aftermath, many (especially teachers) aren’t feeling the festive mood. Most are tired, stressed and show signs of burnout.

There’re ways though to make the spooky holiday season less stressful and more fun and even relaxing!:

  • It’s OK to not participate in trick-or treating this year. You can organize smaller scale (scary) egghunts.
  • For decorations, focus on just a few areas like the kitchen or the bedroom. Decorate one wall and use one dominant color scheme. Use more pastel and less orange for example.
  • Instead of full body constumes for grown-ups you can wear small spooky stickers or pins.
  • For language teachers: try focusing on just one aspect of the holiday instead of the usual holiday themed lessons. You don’t need to include all the lantern-witch-skeleton-bat-etc…variety of vocabulary and exercises you do every year. If you have adult students and they’re willing then you can also talk about famous cemeteries. Talk about previous holidays and how you and your students will spend the holiday this year.

Hope these tips will help you have a more relaxing holiday!

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5 ways to cope with teacher burnout

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Teachers are experiencing burnout even more so since the pandemic and since the necessity of online teaching has increased. Here are 5 ways to cope with teacher burnout:

  • Automate common tasks you have to do daily.
  • Schedule self-care the same way you schedule other tasks.
  • Create templates and go-to sheets.
  • Share tips and discuss teaching with other teachers.
  • Create clear boundaries with your students and let them know when you’re available to help them or answer their questions.

Hope these tips will help you create a better work-life balance and reduce stress and burnout!

Digital whiteboard versus traditional whiteboard

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Schools are in a race to keep up with the digital age. One visible change we see is the move from traditional whiteboards to digital whiteboards. This move is somewhat inevitable but it’s not an easy one. Teachers’ and students’ opinions vary greatly on whether they like to use it or not. One criticism that is often cited is that they just function as giant computer screens, acting as projectors more than a space to use for an explanation.

While this might be partially true, the added functions aim to give more freedom to the way information is presented. The focus, therefore, is more on the presentation aspect than on the explanation aspect. It can help present information rather than just providing a space to write down information. Before the pandemic, this wasn’t considered to be a big difference but it is now. One of the many problems that teachers faced in the online space was that it was hard for many to keep track of how and when information was presented. They were used to the frontal approach when the teacher stands in from of the whiteboard and writes down whatever needs to be explained and the students interact verbally or go to the board and write on it and/or write down information in their notebooks. This limited interactivity is challenged in the digital space.

On one hand, interactivity is immediate and can come in many different forms but on the other hand, it is harder to keep track of it. Students were complaining during the pandemic that it was hard for them to know what exactly was required from them to do and what assignments were due when, and for which subject.

The main problem with digitalization is that information needs to be structured, stored, and presented differently otherwise it becomes scattered and hard to keep track of. This is true for online classes as well as for the digitalization of the classroom. Teachers and students need to adapt to the new way of acquiring information: from one source but in different forms rather than from many different forms.

Here are the main advantages and disadvantages of the whiteboard and the digital whiteboard:

whiteboard:

  • frontal teaching
  • written information
  • easy to use
  • only written information or very limited image use
  • little interactivity

digital whiteboard:

  • different types of information presented in many different ways
  • more interactivity
  • learning curve
  • harder to structure

Online whiteboards are also in the mix and can be used together with screen sharing, mind mapping apps, and other online tools during live online classes. They can be used to replicate the feeling and flexibility of using a real whiteboard.

Students show signs of extreme burnout after returning to schools post-covid.

Note: This is not a scholarly work where I would show you statistics, these’re just my observations and conclusions drawn from personal experience and other teachers’ and parents’ observations.

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Children and young adults show signs of extreme burnout after returning to schools post- Covid. It’s not something unexpected but the almost total lack of motivation in some cases is still astounding… Have we underestimated the long term impact of being without significant social interactions for such a long period of time? It seems kids don’t bounce back as fast as we hoped. The shrinking of vocabulary and the even stronger connection to their devices still prevail after the initial hurray of welcoming the possibility of spending time with their friends and classmates again. The most striking sign of distress however is their total lack of interest in learning in general and this is true for students who used to like attending school and learn before as well. In many cases all kids want to do is play on their phones or on the computer – before, during and after school. The stuff that was OK to play with during the pandemic cannot be easily taken away from them now.

This worrying trend doesn’t seem to be resolved anytime soon. We hoped that the psychological impacts won’t last too long but it seems educators and parents have been losing the battle against the new/old reality of this generation.

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