The world of education, as we know, has changed forever. What was once a set in stone routine has been thrown up in the air, leaving a lot of people unsure as to how they should prepare for the future, or how to create an effective home office for teachers which is the most important tip for teachers working from home.
While things remain uncertain, we do know one thing. That distance education is here to stay as a major part of learning institutions. While it might not entirely take over the traditional model, we can expect many teachers to be required to deliver lessons from home at some point during an academic year.
This adjustment can be very hard, especially if it ends up being for a long period of time. There are a few things that you can do to make it easier on yourself, though, both for your mental state and your physical one.
If you're looking to create an effective home office for teachers, then read on. We've buckled down to create the ultimate guide to help you make that transition smoothly.
Why do teachers need workspace?
If you have to deliver lessons from your home for any large period of time, then that home becomes your office. You're not exactly going to have access to your workspace in the school, university, or college that you work for. Therefore, you need to be able to get the same functions out of your home office.
Not even just for delivering lessons, but for prep and admin work, too. You need a place to prepare and layout your lessons, to correct assignments, answer emails, and everything in between.
Doing all of this from your coffee table is going to get real old real quick, so trust us when we say that having a dedicated office is going to make that significantly easier.
Teacher home offices basic setup
1. Get a dedicated room
Starting off with the very basics of your home office, you need a dedicated room. Ideally, you don't want to use your bedroom for your office. Working where you sleep can really impact your work-life balance.
Hopefully, you have an office room of some sort in your home already, but if not, consider converting something into one. You could even transition a shed into an office with a bit of work. Just make sure you've got good air or heat if you do something like that.
2. Decent internet connection
You want to make sure that your office is in a place where there is a decent internet connection. You're going to be spending a large chunk of your day on Zoom delivering lessons, so you need to ensure that there are no technical issues so that the process goes smoothly.
3. Computing hardware
The last thing to keep in mind in the triangle of the home office for teacher basics is computing hardware.
At the bare minimum, you're going to need a fast laptop or PC. Depending on what subjects you teach, you may be running several different programs at once. Unless you want your computer to get slowed down, then invest in one with some good internals.
While we'd advise that you get a desktop and a laptop, we understand that sometimes getting both isn't an option. In that case, you should prioritize the laptop. We're going to explain why a little bit later.
Moreover, there are three basics you need for your home office for teachers. You need your location, connection, and function.
Of course, that isn't all that there is to it, but that's the first thing to consider before you move on to our next section.
Create a home workspace for teachers with health benefits
Once you have an office, good internet, and good hardware, next is to think about the office setup. Despite not being the basics when it comes to building your office, this part is actually the most important. The reason for this is deceptive but simple.
Consider this, as you make your way around your university campus or your school's grounds, how much time do you spend on your feet? You likely deliver lessons standing up, maybe each lunch standing at a counter, not to mention moving from room to room.
This constant moving between sitting and standing is great for your back. However, that all gets eliminated when you start working from home. You're going to be delivering lessons sitting down from a webcam, your lunch is probably going to be eaten on the couch, and to move classrooms, all you have to do is log into another chat room.
Our primary objective for your teacher's home office setup is minimizing the damage that all of that sitting is going to cause. "What damage?" We hear some of you ask. Well, allow us to explain.
1. The cons of sitting & pros of standing while working
The cons of sitting down for your entire workday are overwhelming. It's so bad for you that certain health professionals have taken to calling it the new age smoking:
Spine impact: This is down to just how much long and short term damage it can cause. You see, when you're sitting down, you're putting your spine at a very unnatural arch. You apply extra and unnecessary pressure to your muscles and discs, which can have really bad consequences.
Back & legs pain: What people find after spending their careers tied to a desk, is that they suffer from severe back problems in their later years. We're not talking about during their 70's and 80's here, though. We're talking about as early as their 30's. They can't stand up for extended periods of time without getting a bad cramp in their lower back, their leg muscles may have atrophied so they have a hard time walking a lot, and they might find that they age much quicker than other folks.
Diabetes disease: That's just the start of it, though. Sitting down for that long can even have serious effects on your internals. For example, a study was conducted that proved that standing instead of sitting after lunch decreased a person's risk of diabetes. The scientists took two groups of people and had one sit while the other stood after lunch. What they found was that the group sitting had a blood sugar spike that was 43% percent higher than those standing. The final conclusion that the study came to was that standing while working decreases your chances of developing diabetes by 112 percent over sitting down with the same lifestyle.
Heart disease: In another study, it was proven that sitting down while working led to a dramatically higher risk of heart disease when compared to people standing up doing the same job.
While that's the big physical effects accounted for, there are some mental ones, too, and that's where the pros of a standing desk come into play:
When you stand every workday, you burn an average of 2000 extra calories weekly. While this is great for fighting obesity, it's more important for the endorphin release.
Endorphins are a chemical in the brain that are released during exercise that makes you feel good and happy. It's your brain's way of rewarding you for working out, essentially.
However, by tricking our brain into producing this thanks to the calorie burn with standing up, we still get all of those benefits.
This extra chemical release is going to have you feeling happier, more energetic, less stressed, and more productive while you're working, which is on top of the physical health benefits.
As you can see, the differences between standing during the day and sitting are staggeringly different, so now let's talk about how to fight it.
2. The most important thing you can put in your home office for teachers
The single most important thing that needs to go into your teacher's home office is a standing desk. This is the most effective way that we can combat against now having to sit down more than we'd like to. In particular, it gives you the ability to deliver your lessons while standing up, which is going to make a world of difference.
However, for teachers specifically, we don't recommend just a standing desk. In fact, we'd recommend an adjustable one. You're going to be spending some long days at that desk, and you don't want to spend all of those hours standing. Remember, we're trying to replicate the balance you would get on campus.
That's why we recommend a desk that can transition between sitting and standing, and there are now desks out there that are better at that than the Autonomous SmartDesks.
The SmartDesk line all comes with a motorized frame that allows you to change the height of the desk at the push of a button. You can save custom heights to different presets, too, so you don't have to worry about doing any of that hard work yourself.
In particular, we recommend the SmartDesk Home and the SmartDesk Premium. The main difference between the two is the number of preset height options you have, a difference in warranty years, and a slight difference in dimension, so take a look and see which is better for you.
Not only are these two desks going to allow you to switch between sitting and standing at a moment's notice, but you can also purchase either of them with a monthly installment easy pay plan, which dramatically increases each one's affordability.
Of course, with a desk that is going to keep your back in good shape, you do want a chair to match. The Ergonomic office chair - ErgoChair 2 is built with a lumbar support system so that your spine is kept as natural as possible while you're sitting and working.
3. Other ideas for a teacher's home workspace
The decoration is, of course, going to be something to consider. Try to balance aesthetics with practicality. You need your paper trays and filing cabinets, your desktop organizers, and so on, but don't be afraid to add a bit of personality to them. Try to let as much natural sunlight into your room as possible, and maybe buy a plant or fish to liven the place up.
You can put some important wall hangings around the place, as well. Hang things that are going to keep you motivated, like your degrees and pictures of your family, maybe even an inspirational quote.
Now, you remember when we said that you should prioritize a laptop over a PC? That's because you're going to want to do as much work as possible out of your home teacher's office.
We know, we know, that contradicts everything that we just wrote in this article, except it doesn't when you think about it.
You are going to be spending the majority of your working day in your home office for teachers. That's why you need to put so much effort into it. However, if you're sitting in that office for work exclusively, you're barely going to be getting out of the house, and that is terrible for your mental health.
Even for a few hours per day, or better yet, have a dedicated day or two where you take your laptop down to the coffee shop and work from there. Obviously, you're not going to be able to deliver lectures this way, so balance it out with your schedule.
After all of that, the only thing you really need to worry about is must-have teaching accessories. Make sure you have a good microphone for when you're speaking to a class. Don't just go down to the local tech store, and buy one for $20 dollars, extend your budget to $200 so that you're delivering quality lessons.
Get a nice pair of headphones or speakers, as well. Then it's just all the teaching equipment that you need, and you don't have to get us to tell you about that.
Wrapping up your home office for teachers
Hopefully, you've found this article useful. Making sure that you, as a teacher, have a good quality home office is imperative as we move forward into the future of education.
If you have any other questions about standing desks or ergonomic home teacher's workstations, you can visit the blog over at Autonomous for some answers.
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