Week 13/14 – Work/Life Balance

The weeks blog is on a popular topic in teaching. The work/life balance. This is something that is essential for all teachers. It is coming to the end of the Easter holidays. I know all teachers will agree with me when I say holidays are needed. Teaching is a mentally tiring job, many teachers work longer hours than they are required. There is endless planning and marking, throw in report writing, parents evenings, tracking and then a busy exam period and there is more work to do. Any good, committed teacher will genuinely care about their pupils and always try and do what is best for them. Yes we get 13 weeks holiday a year, but not all of this time is spent relaxing.

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I decided to see what other peoples views were and I came across some interesting stories. This story is about an ex deputy head of a primary school. She had been teaching for over 20 years when she finally became ill from stress and working too hard. She seemed the learn the hard way that there needs to be some emphasis on life and not to get too consumed by the profession. Food for thought? I wonder how many other teachers have been through similar experiences.

Last year @Teachertooklit blogged about #Guiltyteacher  This blog was extremely popular on twitter and opened the eyes of many in the profession. It was prompted by Mr Steer on the TV programme Educating Yorkshire. This was a brilliant programme that gave the public an insight to just how hard teachers work. Mr Steer still went to work even though he was really ill. The #guiltyteacher is someone who goes to work even though they know they won’t be at their best or really shouldn’t. But they do it because if they don’t they feel guilty. I’ve done it, and I can guarantee you there are plenty of teachers who do it too. It is sometimes easier to come in and teach rather than set cover for your lessons. If I am off because I am ill, I am still thinking about school, wondering how my lessons are going. When in reality..school is not going to fall apart without you. So…if you are ill, genuinely ill and need to rest. Then you are better off at home and not being a guilty teacher. Plus, depending on the reason you may infect other teachers which won’t be good or appreciated.

I looked into ways of maintaining a good work/life balance. Some of the tips for work/life balance can be seen here. It’s incredible to see the amount of posts about it. Not just within teaching, but work in general. A popular piece of advice is to always make time for your family and friends. If you are a teacher with children, I imagine life can be even more stressful. having to do all the work and then go home to entertain children. This PE teacher decided to quit teaching after 10 years because she wanted to spend more time with her son. This story in particular made me realise that as teachers, you need to make sacrifices in your work to ensure you have a good life at home too. She also mentions  that doesn’t help is the pressure teachers are put under by the government. If there was less pressure, teachers could actually help develop children further as well rounded individuals. Not just prepare them for an exam to get good results because else we won’t get paid as much. That’s a whole other story.

I personally have other commitments outside of school. I currently play football for Yeovil Town Ladies and we have just started a new season in the FA Women’s Super League in division 2. This is the 2nd tier of women’s football. I love it and I wouldn’t change it for anything. But fitting it in with my teaching career is not easy. There are days when I have to drag myself to the gym or training because I feel so tired after a long day teaching and possibly going to a fixture. Or I go straight to the gym on my way home, then come home and spend the evening marking or planning. At the weekends I referee on a saturday and we usually play on a sunday. I have to make sure I do any work around this time. Time management and organisation are 2 skills that are essential in this industry. Along with a desire to have some time to do what you want.

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So my advice after reading on this topic….have some time for yourself. Use your time wisely when you are in school. Ask your colleagues for help or if they have resources that you can share rather than having to make extra yourself. The best departments share work, this makes it much easier for all your teachers. I have an ambition to be Head of Department in the near future. I will make sure the teachers are getting enough time to have a life. Not to spend each evening a week doing work. The last piece of advice I have is to find a hobby. Preferably an active one. This will not only relieve stress, but will give you a physical outlet and a way to take your mind off work. Having a work/life balance isn’t a luxury, it’s a must.

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