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Are we able to function socially when we get back to the staffroom?

Anyone else having adjustment issues? After the academic year we’ve just experienced and the summer break, you’d be forgiven for forgetting how to function socially in the real world.

For many, the prospect of being out of school bubbles creates a mixture of exhilaration and anxiety. We’re excited about getting back to some sense of normality but anxious about sitting too close to anyone whilst having a sandwich at lunchtime. It’s hard to know everyone’s individual preferences too - hug or no hug, mask or no mask?

It can take a bit of fine-tuning before you get back into your stride.

Developing new social skills

It’s the same old world out there, but everything seems new. All those things that used to be mundane are suddenly thrilling and novel. Rail travel, Pret a Manger, the M25.

We’ve all become institutionalised to a degree, at times confined to online teaching and working, and sharing a home classroom with family members and pets.

I realised just how maladjusted I’d become recently on an email exchange with a client. When he suggested we meet face to face, I could barely contain my enthusiasm and replied: “Absolutely, I can’t wait. I can’t guarantee I won’t lick your face.”

He didn’t reply for several days, during which time I tortured myself with anxiety. Had I offended him? Worse still, did he think I was serious? Thankfully, when he did reply he realised I was joking.

It reminded me how out of touch I’d become while stuck at home with just my cat and husband for company, both of whom have no filter.

Getting back into the groove

The start of the academic year is always filled with a sense of excitement and anticipation. For many of you, concern about what this year will bring will trump most other emotions on the scale. Will there be another lockdown? Will schools see a surge in Covid cases? How will we stop the nursery children from licking each other’s faces?

For now, school bubbles have completely burst and you’re able to mix far more than last year. But for many, what feels socially acceptable has changed. To feel psychologically safe, you need to set out your boundaries. Communicate these clearly so everyone knows where they stand.

Respect other people’s social boundaries too. If you’re happy to hug, that’s great. But others may not be. Check in with people regularly too, and don’t be afraid to seek support if you’re struggling. You won’t be the only one.

One thing you must metaphorically embrace is the sense of community and teamwork a school environment provides. There’s nothing like having a good laugh when needed. Working together during the term ahead will help everyone adjust to change and uncertainty.

You’ll be please to know I’ve got back in my groove and have managed to conduct several face-to-face meetings without putting my foot in it or offending anyone. So hopefully I’ve got it out of my system.

But there’s no denying that online teaching and working had certain social advantages. You could mute yourself when you needed to fart. Real life isn’t as convenient as that.


If you want support to get your motivation and happiness back for the new academic year, why not come to our FREE Finding your Oomph webinar for teachers. It'll put a smile on your face anf give you some strategies to try during the new term.

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