Top tips for isolation teaching

In this next installment of the distance teaching diaries, Year 6 teacher, Emily Weston, shares her reflections on life under lockdown and has some helpful tips for isolation teaching. 

Unprecedented times

I don’t know about any of you, but I don’t think I’d actually ever spoken the word ‘unprecedented’ before the corona crisis. We all knew it. We all know what it means. But now, if I ever hear the word unprecedented again, it will be too soon.

Don’t get me wrong, we are in the midst of a crisis and the way we need to teach, work and, well, live our lives is unprecedented – but it’s becoming very easy to feel overwhelmed with everything that is going on. Days are stretching on with much less structure and focus than we’re used to having.

Teachers face unique challenges

Teachers, by nature of the job, are used to multi-tasking, having to adapt to last minute changes and keep busy for most of the day. It’s a unique role which revolves around being face-to-face with the students, and ultimately is a social role. For me, I know this is what I’ve struggled with the most. I’ve gone from being surrounded by people all day most days, to only being able to communicate through technology.

I’ve found it a challenge not having a timetable to stick to. Most teachers are creatures of habit (albeit very flexible ones!) and we’re quite proactive, which means having to fit to this new work-style can be difficult. Some of us have been set tasks to do at home, others have less structure given to us and therefore filling the day can be a challenge.

For a while, to be honest, I really struggled. Having already experienced a teaching role in the past, where I felt like I lacked purpose (around 2 years ago, related to a negative school), I felt like this again. I didn’t feel like there was any point getting out my pyjamas and spent days binge watching Netlix.

Believe me, there’s nothing wrong with either of these things. Just probably best not to do them every day for a week. So, I asked my friends what they did to help keep them motivated in the daytime and together we came up with some tips for isolation teaching that I hope you find helpful too.

Top Tips for Isolation Teaching

  1. Get out of bed and put clothes on. Sounds simple doesn’t it? But once you’re up and dressed, it’s so much easier to find a way to be productive.
  2. Keep doing your usual exercise routine. I’m awful at doing exercise without the gym; it’s so much harder to be motivated! But it’s all about finding what works for you at home. Virtual classes, YouTube yoga or just your daily walk.
  3. Make a to-do list. It’s not quite a timetable, but it will give you some tasks to do each day, and keep your focus. Even if those tasks are to draw, crochet, bake or read – it’s still something you’ve accomplished.
  4. Reach out to others. It’s absolutely okay to feel a bit down, or disappointed. Yes, this is bigger than us. But it is still affecting your life and we all deal with things differently. It’s still okay not to be okay.
  5. Do what is right for you. People will be posting what they do online. If you’re me, it’s usually baking and Tik Toks (sorry everyone!) – but be careful not to judge yourself against it. It’s okay to spend some days doing nothing. It’s okay to learn new skills. It’s okay to take each day as it comes. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: we all deal with this differently and we need to look after our own mental, as well as physical, health.

They sound like super simple tips – but they can make a big impact on your day. I hope they help, and you keep safe!

Emily is a Year 6 teacher and Reading Lead at a 2-form entry school in Swindon. She has been teaching for 6 years across KS2 with particular interests in KS2/3 transition, reading for pleasure and writing. Follow her on Twitter and connect with her on teaglo.


This article features as part of a special distance teaching blog series by teachers and educational leaders, about life during the current global health crisis. We want to hear about your experience of school closures, distance teaching, wellbeing and everything in between. Please email elizabeth@teaglo.com if you’d like to contribute a blog.

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