September 13, 2022
I often get asked what it is like to work from home, work as a virtual teacher, or work as a virtual teacher in an RV. With any job, in or out of the house, finding balance can be tricky, especially if one can spill over into the other–and especially if you are a recovering Workaholic.
I thought I’d share a week in my life and some tips and tricks for success that may work for teaching anywhere or working any job from home. My son goes to virtual school and my husband runs his own business, so we have a lot of flex in our schedule, as needed.
EVERY DAY It can be very easy to neglect yourself or want to work in PJs all the time, but these are not good habits. I start each day by getting up (naturally and without an alarm clock, if possible) and starting with physical activity. I usually fire up my computer and check my calendar and for any calls, emails, or texts that are urgent. Then I go for a walk for 30 minutes to an hour, depending on when I woke up and first appointment times. I also listen to an audiobook during this time that will motivate me. Then I have breakfast, straighten up, and make the bed while I cool down, as well as spend time chatting with the family about our day, plans, or whatever is on our minds. After that, I get cleaned up and dressed for the day.
Throughout every day, I work in a 15 minute break in the morning and afternoon, as well as a lunch and siesta break (I have another blog on this!). I try to keep pretty consistent hours, but depending on the time of school year or needs of my students, this can vary from day to day. I also work in other chores on specific days like a meal prep, laundry, cleaning, as well as any appointments we may have scheduled. We also have family dinner planned every night, as well as a set family night and date night. Weekends are more relaxed and do not include work at all. My work phone and emails go on do not disturb and don’t get touched until Monday morning.
I also use a revolving task list so I make sure the day’s tasks are completed and are cleared each day (I have another blog on this, too!).
MONDAYS I am careful about not scheduling things before noon on Mondays so I leave myself a window for urgent issues that may have come in over the weekend. First I clear all Calls, texts and emails and my grading inbox. Then, I send parent progress reports using a mail merge document and a report from my student database. After that is completed, I run reports from my student database and gradebook. From there, I highlight things of importance and color code-RED is high and needs done right away (things like overdue or nearly overdue calls, students that haven’t worked in over a week, students that have low grades or are falling behind) and YELLOW is priority this week, but no set time (such as calls due within 10 days, a quiz due, or a change in progress like poor scoring lessons or not working on pace). Then I copy the spreadsheet and make additional tabs and organize them by day for what is needed, and I delete any data on that sheet that doesn’t relate to that day. This allows me to complete those tasks on that day. I also like to front load my week, so assign as many of the tasks as I can early in the week, while still leaving time to work in other things that come up. This is usually the first half of my day, so after a break, I start in on my to do list for the day. When I have either reached the end of my work day or the end of my list, I take about 15 minutes to clear any calls, texts or emails that came in I didn’t already tend to and check my grading inbox for the morning, but address anything that jumps out as urgent. I also text anyone I have an appointment with tomorrow to remind them and confirm it is still good. If I have some calls or tasks that need to be completed after my normal duty hours, I will work those in on Mondays, as well. This allows me plenty of follow up time in the week if they aren’t available and need to schedule another time.
TUESDAYS Since I prepped my spreadsheet, today is already set up. I clear my inbox, check for appointments, then start on my tasks and to do’s. This is another day I reserve for working later if needed, so it may flex my hours a bit if I know I have later hours. I conclude my day the same way–clearing my inbox and checking tomorrow’s calendar, sending out appointment reminder texts. If not a late night, then it is family night and we try to plan a dinner our son will like (AKA not AS healthy as we usually prefer) and play a card or board game, or go do something fun.
WEDNESDAYS By this time in my week, I have taken care of my urgent matters and am either starting on priorities, or if I started on them Tuesday, I am finishing them up. If I clear them all, I will do another check to see if any urgent or priority issues have come up and tend to those today as well. I also run appointments on this day, so during peak times, it may be a pretty solid day of calls. I block them into 60-90 minute windows, with 30 minutes not scheduled to allow for checking emails or getting break to clear my head.
THURSDAYS Today I use to conclude my to do list, make second attempts to anyone that hasn’t responded earlier in the week, and complete any appointments or tasks specific to today. I also take up any tasks that may need to be escalated to the next level for an intervention. I block time out for projects and tasks in my inbox, things I want to create, self-guided learning or brainstorming/mentoring sessions with others that I want to learn from. I make a point to finish by 5PM so my husband and I can get our date night. We work very hard to not let this time be compromised, but he is amazingly understanding if something comes up and today is the only day it can work in.
FRIDAYS Today is my wrap up day. I follow up on any tasks or calls that were not completed or are a concern and need addressed. I send reports at the end of the last student class to lab facilitators if I am working with any schools this term so they have a snapshot of where students are and can plan and prep for the following week. Then I turn to my calendar for next week and block off times for appointments, projects or tasks that aren’t normally on my daily to do list–I call this success prep time (I have a blog on this, too!). I make sure all tasks have been cleared and I clear my inbox, as well as send reminders to any students or parents of work due, or if calls or due, I attempt to get them scheduled for the following week. I set myself a cutoff time of 2PM for unscheduled tasks and simply direct anything that comes in to a time at the beginning of next week, unless there is an urgency.
VARIATIONS FOR HOLIDAYS/VACATION TIME If a holiday or vacation is coming up and one of these days will be impacted, I make sure I move those tasks and plan for that when I do my success prep time the prior Friday. If out of office messages will need set up, I prepare and schedule those to go active at the set time and send an email to all my parents and students reminding or notifying them of the change in schedule, the reason, and what to do to work around it, should they need to. If I am taking a personal vacation for more than a day, I also make sure to communicate with my coverage teacher to address any concerns that may come up and make sure there are no foreseeable urgent or priority issues that will come up on their watch, or make sure they are aware if they cannot be handled prior.
Working virtually, especially in education, can have its challenges, but it can also have rewards, especially in terms of flexibility. Anytime it is needed, it is possible to adjust the days or tasks and still ensure all are completed without an issue.
Like or comment below, and share with others to support the blog. I post weekly about teaching, traveling and family. Until next time, you can find me on Tiktok @sonya.BOMSquadleader or our adventures at BarnesOnMove.com, Facebook & TikTok at @BarnesOnMove