It’s an age-old problem and complaint for teachers: how do you get the teahcer work-life balance right? The issue never seems to go away. Indeed, in recent years it has definitely become even more a problem.
The workload that all teachers face shows no sign of letting up. Neither does the pressure that teachers consistently face or the scrutiny that teachers are constantly under.
It would be stupid to suggest that it is easy to do, but there is a way you can do something about it. Here are 5 tips for how to have a life outside school.
Teacher Work-Life Balance Tip 1 – Be realistic
The first tip is simply to be realistic about it all. Nobody goes into teaching for the money and (especially these days) nobody goes into teaching expecting to have a dream work-life balance. Everybody realises that as a teacher your working hours will go far beyond the time you spend in front of classes, or even the full 1265 hours of directed time a year.
If you want a 9-5 job where you don’t take any work home then teaching is not going to be for you. It never was and it never will be. You need to be realistic about that.
But you also need to be realistic about what you can actually physically and emotionally do throughout a working week and over a term. There are limits. Regardless of the pressure you are under or the workload you have, simply working harder or for longer isn’t productive. Work out what your limits are. Decide on a total amount of hours that you are prepared to work each week. Do not go over it.
Teacher Work-Life Balance Tip 2 – Timetable
Okay, so you might feel like a Year 11 student being forced to write a revision timetable as you do it, but writing your own timetable and schedule of when you will do things and how long you will spend on each is a great idea. Of course, just as you would encourage a Year 11 to do, it’s important to factor in social/relaxation time too. Again, it’s important to stick to your timetable. If you say you are going to finish work at 9.00pm, do not go past it!
Teacher Work-Life Balance Tip 3 – Me Time
Teaching is more than just a job and it will take up a lot of your time, but don’t let it consume your life! It will do – quite easily – if you let it. The simple fact is that most teachers could probably find something school-related to do to fill every single waking hour. Everybody needs to switch off at some point. Everybody needs some ‘me time’.
Often it is this that gets pushed aside the first because ‘you have work to do’. Don’t let this happen. If it’s going to the gym, spending time with your children or reading before you go to bed that you like to do, don’t sacrifice this time.
Teacher Work-Life Balance Tip 4 – Keep the weekends and holidays clear
Teacher holidays… yes, it sounds great – 13 weeks a year off! Yes, it’s a lot more than ‘normal people’ get each year, but you could see it as ‘payback’ for the ridiculous hours you put during term-time.
And we all know it’s a myth! You are going to spend a fair bit of time working during the holidays: revision sessions, planning or marking. Most teachers accept that. However, it is still important to use this precious time wisely.
Resist the urge to put things off to the holidays – or the weekend. Again, doing at least some work over the weekend is part and parcel of teaching. But don’t let school take your weekends over completely. Timetable and schedule for 52 weeks a year, not just for term-time.
Teacher Work-Life Balance Tip 5 – Plan something to look forward to
Whether it’s a holiday in the sun over a holiday or a night out with friends over a weekend, make sure you have something nice to look forward to. Again, don’t put everything to one side until the holiday. Make sure you have something to look forward to every single week.