I’ve been teaching for 15 years now. As a teacher there are some things that I thought were definitely off the table for me in my career. One was travel perks. You hear about friends in other careers being sent to very cool places for conferences, meetings, etc for work. Education being under provincial government oversight is always tight on finances & trips to far off, exotic places just don’t happen (with the exception of teachers organising student trips where the student costs then pay for the teachers accompanying them). Although I did once get to supervise a student attending a conference in St John’s Newfoundland & that was pretty awesome as I’d always wanted to go! Another perk of some folks’ jobs is the ability to work from home some or all of the time. I always knew this just wasn’t in the cards for me as a teacher. We used to joke about how they should call more snow days and we can all just hop online & teach from home – joking, because we knew it would never happen.
Until it sort of did.
Not snow days. But a pandemic!
On March 13th 2020, we were all sent home from school at day’s end & told to bring home our things as it was unsure when we would return to school. And then we spent several weeks trying to set up some semblance of a virtual classroom for our students so that we could complete the semester teaching from home.
That whole spring I worked from my armchair or our couch … for 3+ months:
We went back to school in person in September, but by January were once again sent home to teach from home again. I started a new audiobook that month; Atomic Habits. One of the chapters reminded me of the importance of location cues and of separating work and relaxation space in the home. I’d been doing all my “work from home” hours in my armchair in the upstairs living room (my husband uses the downstairs kitchen table as his workspace). But I had noticed my relaxation time and my work time bleeding into each other which was not ideal. So I did some online shopping & a curbside pickup of a folding TV table. I set it up in the loft where I work out.
What a difference to make a dedicated space in the house to be “my office” that when I sit there it means my work day has started. And when I leave that space, and go down to relax in my armchair, my body & mind don’t keep thinking it’s work time. That worked well for the rest of January & then we returned to school again in person.
Fast forward to April, with our postponed March Break – now spring break, and the announcement came that we would be working from home after the break for an undetermined length of time. I’ve been busy giving presentations to classes about research skills as they start their 4th quadmester courses. And I shared this photo of my set up in a tweet and I got some great photo replies from other teachers with their setup:
Then a few came in with standing desk options:
That second one in particular got me thinking could I also create a standing desk? At work I often use the desktop computer at the checkout desk of the library. It’s right by the library doors so I get to see & chat with colleagues (and students when they’re allowed in to the library in non-pandemic times) as they come & go. It’s a tall standing desk. I have definitely noticed how poorly my body feels after a day of sitting at my home desk that I was using. Especially since the futon I sit on has an angled seat that is a bit awkward to use in conjunction with a desk.
So I grabbed two coffee tables we had, stacked them up, and made a standing desk in our loft! It doesn’t have the advantage of easily folding & storing away like my TV table desk did so my workout space is a bit more cramped. But I am very happy to be spending more time standing than sitting now:
This setup might be the winner that takes me right through the end of June as the Ottawa area case numbers are still so much higher than when they brought us back in February that I can’t see them having us return to school this year 😦 I’m wondering how I’ll fare up there in the loft when those hot June days start rolling in? We do not have air conditioning! But we do have a lake to swim in!
So, what does your work from home setup look like? I’d love to see! Leave a comment below or reply to one of the tweets in this post!
– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)