I lost my job at the bank on my very first day. A chap asked me to check his balance, so I pushed him over.
Groan. The old ones are the worst!
But seriously, we all need to check our balance regularly, our work-life balance that is.
Some will argue that there is no such thing as a work-life balance and it’s pointless chasing one because it is a big hoax and ‘it is what it is’. True, I don’t know anyone that has this perfect balance and 50:50 split in their lives.
The pressures on teachers are considerable. They are rising inexorably and unsustainably. Teachers must take back control of their work if the education system itself is to be saved from collapsing under the pressure of hopelessly unrealistic expectations.
Teaching can be all-consuming and there is plenty outside of our control but that doesn’t mean we should throw in the towel and abandon all efforts to tip the scales a bit more in our favour. There is plenty we can do to at least try.
1. Make Time
Okay bottom line – you have to manufacture time out of thin air. If you say you don’t have the time then you have to be ruthless and edit what you are doing by ditching some of the ‘Things to do’. You have to make time for yourself.
2. Keep perspective
It’s easy to get bogged down with everything you have to do but keeping the bigger picture in sight is essential so you don’t feel foggy and fuzzy.
Every day is a school day and so use and milk every day as an opportunity to get better at what you do. You have to water yourself and keep growing.
4. Set boundaries
Anyone that is working over 50 hours a week needs to take stock. Overworking will catch up with you at some point. The time to go home is when your body and conscience are screaming at you to just go and what doesn’t get done doesn’t get done. Draw the line in the sand!
5. Plan a treat
Always have something to look forward to in the day and further into the week. Having an eye on something pleasant in the future keeps your motivated in the present.
6. Lose control
Not literally but at least stop trying to control everything otherwise you will drive yourself mad! Pick your battles and give up on what is sapping your energy.
7. Keep a flexible attitude
Rather than seeing everything that comes your way as an attack on your well-being then look for solutions and opportunities. Reframe unhelpful thoughts.
8. Slow down
I know, how ridiculous but there are plenty of teachers who take at least 10-15 minutes to eat with their colleagues and have a natter. Don’t be one of those teachers who eats by themselves in their classroom every day.
9. Pace your teaching
You can’t perform miracles Mon-Fri because that’s unsustainable. Some lessons you can put more energy into than others and not feel guilty about it.
10. Reflect on the good
School is full of positives even in a toxic environment. The one constant – children. They are why you are there and they will make your day.