As I sat in bed one night surrounded by marking and with my laptop my husband learned over and whispered in my ear, ‘ I love your passion for your job but can you please not bring it to bed.’ Not exactly the steamy stuff romance novels are made of but it was the wake-up call I needed, well the first of many.
If you have a teacher in your life, you will probably have had to stop outside the $2 shop or one of many discount stores many times, in fact. you probably even ask as you pass one if they would like to stop there. You also know that teaching isn’t the 8.30 – 3.30pm gig that some people think it is because you have had to reschedule many catch-ups or discovered the teacher in your life up late working.
The struggle to find a balance between work/life is real and so is Teacher burnout.
It can take years to find your balance as a teacher so don’t be harsh on yourself.
Here is what works for me.
Health body / Mind
Switching off my mind and having sleep deprivation has been a constant over the years.
Making time for the gym is a constant struggle and if the gym isn’t your scene then taking a walk after work, going to that yoga class or finding something you enjoy even if it means heading to the local pools or park will help you to feel better and shift gears. I have also found meditation apps to be useful to wind down at the end of the day. If you need to talk to someone about an issue that has risen then try and do it that day. Having a safe colleague to discuss things with does help but if you don’t then don’t be shy with your workplace counseling service.
Work at school / take minimal home
In my early years of teaching, I would stay back well after everyone had left and then drive an hour to get home and prepare dinner for the family. Often taking a large crate of school work home with me, the majority of it would stay in my car boot until the next day.
The constant back and forth continued for months until I realised it was not working.
Using my teaching planner, I then learned to prioritise, listing a top priority three things. These were jobs that would affect the next days teaching or if the following day. When it was time to head home If these jobs were not done then I would bundle them up in a carry bag and take them home. If you can come into work early the next morning, then don’t take them home at all.
Steer clear of staffroom gossip
There will always be a minority of people who love to chat about others. Magazine sales would be nonexistent otherwise but staying clear of the staffroom stitch & bitch is imperative to keeping a positive mindset. The lines can get a little blurry when it comes to socialising with work colleagues, so a no work talk policy if your going to socialise outside of work is important.
Have a social life
Some weeks are busier than others ( IEP writing time & report time ) and catching up with friends can take a back seat. Teaching is an important Job but it is important to have a clear picture. Teaching is your chosen career but having a healthy separation is good. I will never forget my first induction day at a new school . Listening to the expectations from the Principal and hearing the words that have been a constant reminder ‘ you’re family should come first , nobody gets to the end of their life and wishes that had spend more time at work. Outside of work, there is a whole world waiting to be explored and many experiences that can add to your Teaching. For example, one year I took a holiday to China, and when I came back, I was able to share this with my students and incorporate it into my lessons. Even if travel is not on your horizon being involved in a sport, club or hobby can give you a new skill to add to your teacher life.
Have you got any great tips for keeping the Teacher / Life balance?