Teacher Work-Life Balance

“Teaching is an emotional practice: it activates, colors & expresses people’s feelings.”
-Attributed to Andy Hargreaves

As you read this article, please consider what you believe to be normal or acceptable in regards to the amount of work done at home.

Retrieved from http://www.maverickstella.com.au/#!The-balance-in-worklife/c218b/553029f50cf2784deabf19d3 23/11/15 Originally written by Scott Adams.

Last week was an incredibly topsy-turvy week, professionally, for me. I went from feeling overwhelmed and time-poor, to a day of ups and downs, to finishing off my teaching week with a Eureka moment for a student that brought a genuine smile to my face. I spent quite a significant amount of time thinking about this issue last week. As a young teacher and husband, I need to get the work-life balance issue sorted out in some fashion as I do not want to be struggling with this in the same way that I am currently when the family starts arriving (and no, that is not a pregnancy announcement).

The ever-helpful and patient Corrine Campbell (@corisel) reached out and we arranged to have an actual voice-to-voice conversation over the phone, where we would not be restricted to one hundred forty character thought-bites. I spent nearly an hour and a half speaking with Corinne, getting to know a bit more about each other, learning about each other’s journey through the work-life balance minefield, discussing strategies that Corinne either uses or knows people who use them to help manage work-life balance and find the corners that can be cut and the responsibilities that can be dropped without any adverse impacts, and it was useful, very useful.

Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/segfault/15752766 on 23/11/15 Originally written by Scott Adams

We worked a few things out. Most of the time spent outside of school hours working on what I place in the school work box is only indirectly related to school insofar as it is part of my personal teaching identity and who I am and want to be as an open-source teacher; these blog articles, the FTPL videos, some research I am in the process of working on, reading for professional development, Twitter chats and TeachMeets are all things that take up a significant amount of time, which I am not required to do, that I am adding onto my plate willingly.

One of the strategies that Corinne mentioned was the setting of hard boundaries vis-a-vis when work stops and personal time begins. I find it very easy to spend a whole weekend in front of the computer as Mrs. C21st works Saturdays and every second Sunday (her weekend is Monday and Tuesday), and I often continue working when she arrives home. My new boundary is now 3 pm on Saturday when I know she finishes. This gives me an hour to switch off from work and to make sure than any housework I have not completed gets done. In addition to this, I am wiping Sunday from the roster and keeping it as a personal day. On those days when Mrs. C21st works, I will use it to get things done around the house, or just to unwind and relax, and on the Sundays that she has off, we will get to spend some time together and visiting friends.

Retrieved from http://wowpersonalconcierge.com/us-women-entrepreneurs-motivated-work-life-balance/work-life-balance/ 23/11/15

It did feel a bit odd putting that into practice this weekend just gone, but I do feel better for it. I spent Sunday cycling between Star Wars: The Old Republic, FIFA16 and Star Wars: Battlefront, as well as getting housework done and dinner ready. Mrs. C21st and I went to a friends for dinner and a swim on Friday night, another no-work timeslot in the future.

I do still need to reduce the load, however. As there is no point reducing the time spent working if the workload is not also reduced. To that end, I will not be continuing the book review series for the time being. As much as it is useful for me professionally (and hopefully for some of my readers as well), I do not have the time to read in depth, make notes and then write an article each week. I do want to come to resent writing these articles, as I do find the process useful for reflection, however in order to prevent that, I need to cut something.

Retrieved from http://www.wrightexecutive.com.au/would-you-pass-the-work-life-balance-test/ on 23/11/15

I will not be replacing it with anything, Tuesday’s will remain an empty slot. I will be maintaining the current schedule of an FTPL video on Monday afternoon, and then other articles Wednesday and Thursday, however that, from what I gather, is still significantly higher workload than some others in my PLN. That said, if there is somethign going on or that has happened then I will use the Tuesday slot.

I do still believe that we (teachers) need to engage in a dialogue about work-life balance and examine why it is considered normal or acceptable to work as much as what I know many teachers do, and I would appreciate your thoughts on this topic in the comments section.

 Read the previous article in this series here.

One thought on “Teacher Work-Life Balance

  1. Hi Brendan,
    It is good to hear that you are setting your boundaries and intending to follow them, and that you are also bringing this up in a public forum like your blog (so others can see that they are not alone in the struggle, or that outsiders to teaching can learn about what some teachers’ lives are like). I’m glad you have such wonderful people like CC around to chat to, too.
    When I was doing my country service I lived alone and had very little social activity going on and so I worked, worked, worked, just to fill the time. It became a habit, and not a healthy one. I am still prone to placing the needs of my students ahead of those of my own. But ultimately, I feel that if you’re not being taken care of, then you can’t take care of your students to the best of your ability either. While it is awesome that you want to maintain your professional and academic studies, and share them too, don’t feel guilty for going more slowly with them now that your formal study is over!
    Thanks again for sharing your experiences with your blog.
    Charlotte 🙂


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