I lectured in language and literature teaching and learning as a Teaching Fellow of Language Education at the Department of Education, University of Cyprus (2004-2016). From 2007-2013, I was appointed as an Adjunct Teaching Staff (Assistant Professor) in Literacy and Language Arts, on the Bachelor Programme in Sciences of Education (BPSE Programme), University of Luxembourg. My teaching and research interests focus on language and children’s literature teaching and learning good practices, inside and outside school contexts, trainers’ training, development of materials, technology enhanced learning, childhood studies and children’s literature translation process research (ChLTPR). Currently, I collaborate extensively with CARDET – Centre for the Advancement of Research and Development in Educational Technology, acting as Researcher/ Project Manager for EU funded projects and initiatives. I also act as an important contact for school initiatives focusing on storytelling, creative writing, reading promotion and critical literacy.
I use the EPALE platform on a weekly basis to update myself on adult education news and trends. Last year, I was brave enough to post my professional news, ‘spreading the word’ about my projects reaching the end of their funded life-cycle. And I have been enjoying doing that ever since!
Let’s Take a Break! – Ideas for Taking a Break during a Webinar/an Online Class
I must admit that I am not at all the ‘break’ type of person. I am not in the habit of taking a break from screen tasks, other responsibilities or duties on very or less busy days! So with no offence caused, I am often called a ‘workaholic’. Yes, I know I am wrong for not taking breaks, and throughout my working life I have been reading a lot about the importance of taking long or short breaks from my screen in particular, and from work in general. But it has only been a good practise in theory for me and not in reality…
It wasn’t until the days of lockdown that this ‘take a break’ idea became a good habit in my everyday life, and as a good teaching and learning practice in the context of online education, and more specifically, webinars/ online classes.
From the early lockdown days, family and friends’ children as well as parents and grandparents would constantly complain about how they and their children would sit for long hours in front of a computer, attending webinars in the context of online/ distance education and working remotely.
It was then that I started paying attention to the structure of the webinars I attended myself and listening to other peoples’ experience.
At times, there was indeed no break, no consideration of a pause and when someone would ask for a break, at most, the organiser would reassure everyone that the webinar would not take long. On other occasions, organisers/ instructors would plan for breaks and encourage participants to take breaks, and at times, even structured breaks (e.g. follow the instructions, listen to my voice and relax, etc.). There were times that even an hour-long webinar without a break would tire me out. However, in all the cases of webinars with breaks, I felt less tired and more engaged, not only during the webinar but also at the end, and beyond, looking forward to the next one!
For the first time, I could see the added value of taking a break!
And it was then that I decided to keep a diary listing good practices in taking breaks when in webinars and online classes. I noted down any break, giving it a title and describing it as well as expressing how it made me feel. I placed a star next to the break ideas that made me feel relaxed, less stressed and tired, engaged and well-motivated. Good practices that emerged from my diary are shared below:
- Take a 5 min break from your screen and stand up following the instructor’s/ webinar organiser’s instructions for stretching.
- Take a 5 min mindfulness break with eyes open and deep breathing either accompanied by music or in silence.
- Take a 5-10 minute reflection break in groups. Get together in groups in escape rooms of the hosting platform, discuss or brainstorm with the set group an issue/ task or reflect on the session’s topic.
- Take a 5-10 minute break for water, tea, coffee or to go to the toilet.
- Take a 5 minute break to look out of the window.
- Take a 15-20 minute lunch/ dinner-break.
- Take a 10 minute do-whatever-you-want-break and use this time as you wish.
With respect to attendees and participants sitting for long hours in front of a screen, these ‘take a break ideas’ benefited me (and others, I am sure) in many ways. Overall, it felt like:
- they respected my human needs (e.g. drinks, food and visiting the WC)
- they payed attention to my health (e.g. standing up and stretching, take a few minutes away from my screen)
- they focused on my mental health (getting less tired, relaxation, less-stressful moments, mindfulness, etc.)
- they respected my concentration span as an adult (webinar with breaks)
- they motivated me to keep attending webinars
- they convinced me to spread the word and share good practices.
The ‘taking a break experience’ shared in this story was an important practice throughout my lockdown experience (and beyond). It has taught me a lesson, in this sense. Taking breaks during a webinar/online class may help to organise and deliver successful webinars, making this educational and professional context better understood and experienced in ways that will be beneficial to participants and learners.
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