Work-Life Balance. Ahh… for teachers, that seems even more unattainable than dry erase markers lasting all year. [Teacher humor, get it?! :)]
The truth is, work-life balance as a teacher is possible only if you do it on purpose. If balance is what you are looking for, it is going to take some choices and actions on your part to make that happen!
Like I always say, you are SO MUCH MORE than an awesome teacher.
Teachers actually have lives. We have families, hobbies, and commitments outside of school ::GASP:: Unfortunately, we often feel like it’s inevitable that we won’t get to enjoy that “other side” of ourselves, because we chose to be a teacher.
You deserve to have it all, too! You can love your job, be an awesome teacher, AND have all that other stuff.
It’s just a matter of choice and action.
Here are 5 tips to get you thinking about your choices and actions, and how you can do things on purpose to find your balance.
Teacher Work-Life Balance Tip #1: Turn off notifications.
Set your boundaries, and stick to them. You should NOT be getting school email notifications on your personal cell phone – even if you don’t reply, simply reading a work email puts you right back into “teacher” mode when you should be in “wife/mom/friend/daughter/sister” mode.
Apps like Class Dojo often have settings for ‘Quiet Hours‘ – set your work hours (8-4?) so that you don’t receive these notifications either!
There will always be an exception, but the general rule should be that when you are done with work, be as done as you can.
Teacher Work-Life Balance Tip #2: Have a Plan.
We have a lot on our plates as teachers, but having a plan for exactly WHEN you will do your lesson plans, copies, etc. will help keep you focused. The more focused you are, the better you are able to compartmentalize teacher-you and other-you.
Everyone’s plan will look a little different since we all have unique teaching experiences, BUT the general idea is to plan out exactly when you will plan your lessons, make your copies, prep lessons and do your grading.
Monday, you could begin to look at the following week to think about your lesson plans and activities. Tuesday, you could write it all down in your planner. Wednesday, you could make all your copies for the following week. Thursday and Friday can be grading days.
Do you have designated plan time each day? Decide exactly what you want to accomplish during your plan time each day – maybe you will ALWAYS look over math homework during plan to get that out of the way… whatever it is, stick to your plan!
Obviously there is a lot more to our jobs than just the things mentioned above, but having a plan for completing all of those things will save you from getting sidetracked all week and then lesson planning/prepping on Sunday night!
Teacher Work-Life Balance Tip #3: Understand how your expectations match up to your students and admin expectations.
What are you EXPECTED to do as part of your job description? How is that different from the expectations you hold of yourself? Chances are, your expectations of yourself are waaaay higher than what you really NEED to be doing.
DON’T GET ME WRONG – going above and beyond the call of duty is in our nature, and I’m not suggesting that you skate by doing the bare minimum every day. But there will be some days where doing the bare minimum is okay. Did you catch that?
Those centers don’t have to be laminated… you don’t have to completely recreate that science lesson because you don’t like the one in the book, and you don’t HAVE to have “bells and whistles” activities for each day of the week.
Doing the bare minimum is all your students need sometimes, especially if that means that their teacher is taking care of herself and able to come in with a patient smile on her face in the morning. They would rather have that than a tired, cranky teacher who stayed up late cutting and laminating some new math centers.
Teacher Work-Life Balance Tip #4: Don’t Go At It Alone.
What are your strengths as a teacher when it comes to planning? Once you figure out your strengths, spend your time on that – then, seek some help for all the rest.
You aren’t doing this alone! Even if you are the only teacher in your grade level, there are so many other places to look for a little help and guidance.
Instagram – did you know there are teachers allllll over Instagram sharing their awesome ideas every day? Check out the hashtags #teachersfollowteachers and #teachersofinstagram, or come find me –> @cupcakesncurriculum.com.
Facebook – there are tons of great Facebook groups out there that fit with your needs as a teacher. First grade groups, fifth grade groups, special education teacher groups, high school teacher groups, admin groups…. you name it and you will find it. Just go over to Facebook and type what you are looking for into the search bar 🙂
Teachers Pay Teachers – your time is so valuable, so I know that as teachers we aren’t millionaires or anything… but if you could spend $5 on some lessons that align with your objectives instead of spending hours creating it yourself — WHY WOULDN’T YOU?! I’d much rather spend a little money so that I can hang out with my family instead of sit on my computer in the evening, wouldn’t you?
Teacher Work-Life Balance Tip #5: Remember that “perfect” isn’t a real thing.
Having given you the above tips about seeking out ideas and help from teachers on social media, I HAD to add in this last tidbit.
Just like in your Facebook Newsfeed, when you search for teaching ideas on Instagram or Facebook, you are getting the highlight reel. You are seeing the best picture out of 15 that they probably took of the best activity they did that week or month.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
As long as you remember while sifting through social media that the perfect classroom, the perfect lesson plan, the perfect bulletin board, and the perfect teacher outfit DO NOT EXIST… you’ll be just fine.
Remember: You are SO MUCH MORE than an awesome teacher. Make the choices and do the actions that will give you the balance you are looking for.
You got this, girl!