People who work continuously without any break for months are likely to suffer from occupational burnout. As a result, they feel fatigued, stressed out, and anxious all the time, which adversely affects their productivity. This dilemma of taking a break or not is more common in people who run their businesses as compared to working professionals. This article will address the concerns of those who are into the education business in particular as this is not like any other business — It’s a huge responsibility.
Why do you avoid a break?
You are nurturing the learners online on a digital learning platform. This is a new medium of teaching and learning where you have to keep the learners engaged, win their trust, and retain them, which is not an easy task. When you think of a break from work, the first thought crosses your mind: what if I lose my learners. If their studies get affected, they will move to other teachers. The needs of the learners are your highest priority. You cannot afford to take any such action that can affect them.
Why do you need a break?
Every professional deserves a break to restore work-life balance. You need to take a break for your physical and mental well-being. A vacation can be helpful because, when you are relaxed, you can broaden your horizons and look at your work from a different perspective. Thus, you can come up with innovative ideas that can improve the quality of your work.
How to take a break without losing your learners?
Now that you are convinced you need to take that much-desired break, let me assure you that you can retain the learners without any difficulty, provided you start planning in advance.
Plan the timing and duration of the break first.
Plan your break at a time when the students also take a break from their studies. It can be during festivals, holidays, or summer vacations when schools are closed, and students can manage their studies without your support. The duration of the break is equally important. You cannot obviously disappear for a few months, leaving the students in the lurch! So, it can be for a few days or one or two weeks, and not more than that. Online education is a serious business where learners expect you to be available to help them round the clock. Hence, a long break is not advisable, but you can take small breaks more frequently.
Inform your learners in advance.
You should inform your students about your possible break at the planning stage. If the learners are minors, then notify their guardians as well. Let them know that you cannot share the exact dates, but at least tell them for how many days you will be unavailable. This will mentally prepare them for your absence. They may ask for extra classes to finish the curriculum in advance, complete their urgent projects, or clear their doubts. Once the dates of your break are confirmed, discuss with them how things will be managed in your absence — when will you take the last class before the break, when will you take the first class after return, and whether you are reachable over the phone/emails, can they reach out to someone for emergency help, will there be an alternative arrangement like a substitute teacher or pre-recorded lectures, and what are their assignments.
Utilise technology correctly.
Choose the right Learning Management System (LMS) where you have the option to upload pre-recorded videos. Select some simple topics, make small, manageable videos on them, and store those customised videos in the LMS you use for training delivery. The learners can access the video lectures anytime and anywhere at their convenience. They will never feel that they have missed any lecture because you have taken a break. Once you return from your vacation, conduct a live doubt clarification session where they can ask you questions on the videos, and you can test their knowledge.
Keep the learners engaged in your absence.
There are different ways to keep the learners engaged when you are away. For younger learners, give them some worksheets or exciting puzzles to solve, and ask them to prepare some models and charts. You can also share some offline audio-visual learning content through LMS, which will keep them engaged and help them learn something new.
The adult learners can prepare a project presentation on some relevant topics related to their subject. You can also share links to online resources that they can use to help them with their project. It can be YouTube videos, knowledge-based articles, etc.
Take help from others
If you have a team member or friend capable of being a facilitator in your absence, ask them to take your live classes in the pre-scheduled timings. You can prepare the modules for each course so that they will have all the material available in the LMS. They can use that material for conducting online courses. However, you must introduce this new teacher to the class at least a week before your break. Let them teach a portion of a module in your presence. Thus, you can extend some handholding support. At the same time, it will break the ice between the new teacher and the students, and both sides will feel comfortable with the teacher when you are away.
Let the learners lead
Keep the pre-scheduled timing of the class unchanged. Allow the students to take charge of your class for some days. We all agree that peer to peer discussions make learning easier for the students. Give them that personal space to have fun, and you enjoy your break time. They will happily share their thoughts, opinions, and ideas with each other. However, asking for their parent’s consent is mandatory before taking any such decision.
Hope these tips give you insights on how to plan out your training schedule before taking a break and ensure that you do not lose any of your learners. Go ahead and plan your vacation right now. A timely vacation prevents burnout and inspires you to focus on your work with more vigour and enthusiasm. Hence, it is always advisable to take short-term breaks now and again.
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