Balancing Home & Work Life- The Struggle is Real for Teachers

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Many people think that summers off are just one of the job “perks” teachers receive in this profession.  We all know that our summers are never fully off for us- as teachers, we spend a lot of time in the summer reflecting, planning, and prepping for the upcoming school year.  We also try and fit in continuing education and professional development opportunities (which are required in many states) during this time. Although not setting my alarm clock for about 6 weeks has been nice, once August hits my brain begins to go into full-blown school mode.  As we embark on the 2018-2019 school year, it’s important to set boundaries between your home and work life. I try and think about how I can make this a priority before I begin every school year, because let’s face it, it’s a constant battle for educators. Here are the top 5 ways I plan to balance my home and work life this school year.

  1. Stay organized. Make a list each day and prioritize items on that list.  Staying organized is something I strive to get better at each school year.  The fact is, this does not come easy for me. I have found, however, that making a prioritized list each day of the tasks I intend to complete has helped me stay (somewhat) organized.  It’s also important to remember that not everything on your list needs to be completed that day. Remember, the work will always be there to greet you in the morning! How nice! 🙂
  2. Set aside time during the school day to breathe, eat, socialize and put work on hold.  This is something that can be very difficult for teachers- but it’s vital to our mental state to take time for ourselves.  We give everything we have to our students throughout the school day- there is nothing wrong with spending your lunch break actually eating and socializing (and laughing) with colleagues in the staff room.  This has saved my sanity more than once over the years.
  3. Set and follow an agenda for any planning meetings.  We all know that our teammates are our lifeline!  We love planning curriculum with them, but sometimes those meetings can run way too late because we are spending too much time chatting and not enough time planning. Get into the habit of creating an agenda for your weekly meetings and sticking to the time constraints you give each item.  This way, you start and end on time and feel productive at the end of each session!
  4. Plan ahead- especially at the beginning of the year.  Lesson plan for a week or more at a time.  It seems like a lot of work, but it will save you time in the end.  Planning for a week at a time will allow for cohesiveness of lessons and save you time each day that you are not having to lesson plan.  Of course, these plans can (and will) need to be adjusted at times, but if you have the framework set for the week, these adjustments will come quickly and easily for you.
  5. Finally, leave work at work (when you can).  You don’t always have to take work home with you.  Teachers are notorious for working overtime without pay.  I know there are times when we don’t have a choice, but if you have to work on the weekend or after school hours, set a time limit and be okay with leaving things unfinished.  This will prevent burnout. And as hard as this may be (especially for new teachers), try not to use your weekends for work! Keep this time for yourself, your friends and your family. Weekends should be about YOU!

As we begin to go back to work this August, keeping yourself happy and healthy should be a top priority this school year.  Balancing that home and work life can be challenging, but is necessary in this day and age when so much is expected of us as teachers.  Remember to breathe and focus on what you can control. It’s ok to say NO! From myself and my colleagues at Smart ELD, have a happy and healthy 2018-2019 school year!