Well, this is novel

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A blog post for #Covid19WellbeingEdumeet

I’m new to this.

You’re new to this.

Everyone is new to this. 

Whatever this is.

The complex puzzle of our lives has been upended; the pieces reorganised into new and confusing patterns according to some strange and ineffable logic. Time, well, I can make no sense of time whatsoever. How long ago was it that you last taught a class, face to face?  Surely it was months ago? As I write (on the 19th of April), for most staff in the UK, the last teaching day was the 19th of March. That’s only just over four weeks ago. Four weeks, two of which would have been holiday anyway. In that tiny sliver of time, school staff have bootstrapped a new kind of school into existence.

If you have a long memory, or still retain some kind of grasp on the whole time thing, you might remember that once Coronavirus was referred to as a “novel” virus. When I say once, I mean mid March. Novel, meaning new, not seen before, not previously identified. Not novel meaning that book you’ve finally got round to reading now you can’t leave the house. The word “novel” seems to have mostly dropped out of the narrative. But novel is an apposite term to describe what’s going on now; we’re surrounded by novelty. Everything is new and different and not previously identified. Things we thought were sorted, like buying flour and going to the pub, are transformed, or not even a thing anymore. Through the lens of coronavirus, everything looks different.  We’re on fast forward, we’re in slow motion, we cannot rewind. Time is broken. Your days may be emptier than before, or fuller and more hectic than ever. Whatever your context, your routines are different. They are new. They are novel.

In this context, looking after your own wellbeing may not be at the top of the list; there are simply too many other things that now need attending to.

Here are three things I’ve been trying to embed into this strange new life we’ve all been hurled headlong into. They’re not perfect, they don’t always seem possible, but they are something, at least.

1 – Keep public interactions positive. Now this sounds pretty simple, but it turns out that it’s even easier to kick start a round of EduTwitter whataboutery than under usual conditions. Tone is famously difficult to convey on Social Media, so I’ve been trying to only tweet the positive, keep any sorry attempts at humour for my twitter friends who might get it, and doing my best to avoid pile-ons. If a tweet makes me angry, I do not respond. I might be misreading it. 

2 – Get information from reliable sources. For the first couple of weeks of this (whatever this is), I found it impossible to write much longer than a tweet. I was concerned that I might be spreading something that wasn’t accurate, or wasn’t helpful. Opinions based on today’s facts will seem ridiculous tomorrow, in the light of events we cannot forsee or influence. Eventually I came up with this list of wellbeing and mental health resources from trusted sources. I’ve also cut my news consumption, because so much of it isn’t really news. It’s speculation, misinterpretation and opinion.  

3 – Give yourself a break: a break from scrolling, a break from getting cross, a break from worrying about when schools will “reopen” (given that they have never closed). Immerse yourself in your self-indulgence of choice and accept that we are all doing our best in extraordinarily difficult circumstances. 

I’m new to this.

You’re new to this.

Everyone is new to this. 

Whatever this is.

 

 

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