How to be a teacher and still have a life

It is not unknown that in today’s society, teachers are prone to overworking and early burnout. Heck, it’s been all over the news about the average 60 hour working week. Even while in training, student teachers are prepared for it; the workload is the biggest in your first couple of years and then you find your stride… hopefully.  Well we are here to help! Read our tips on how to be a teacher and still have a life!

Number 1: Just Say No

…. To quote Nancy Reagan here. Teachers naturally aim to please. Especially when they’re new to the business. You don’t want to let anyone down and you want to impress people. Whether it’s taking on an extra-curricular, signing up as the PTA Teacher Rep, hosting an open evening, Saturday morning coaching, the list is endless. Let’s not forget that the pay packet encompasses showing up to class, planning and teaching (and then marking) to the curriculum. That’s where the priority lies. It’s OK to turn things down to focus on your teaching load. Of course, getting involved is always important, just don’t be that person that does everything! You also need a life of your own that isn’t at school.

Number 2: Creative Punishment

Detentions are sometimes a must, especially if it’s school policy. But let’s face it, everybody hates them, not just the kids. The students who end up in detention are most likely, if not always, the ones that you don’t actually want to spend time with – more than you already have to. So, if it happens that you must set a detention (I say always avoid if possible), make it worthwhile; get them doing tasks that you hate but need to be done; class tidying, errands, messenger. Hey presto, you’ve saved time – again, you have a bit more of your own life back. Better still, make the toerags come in before school starts. The last thing you want to do after a day of teaching is hang out with your worst nightmares. Break their spirits, don’t let them break yours.

Number 3: School is for Work, Home is for Rest (and everything else)

A common challenge is to keep your personal and work life separate. And the line gets even hazier the minute you bring a bag home full of books. I mean, it’s good for weights training for sure, but your down time?  Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s unavoidable (exam times, essays), and if you’re in the habit it’s hard to break. The good thing is it’s nearly the end of the academic year, so you can start fresh next year by doing the following; grab your timetable and work out a schedule allocating specific days to specific classes for marking. Stick to that schedule and dedicate those after school hours before home time to just that. If you have a long journey into/out of school you can also use this time to do some marking (so long as you’re not driving, obviously). My favourite trick is to get your students to mark! Peer Assessment is so in fashion nowadays, Ofsted love it. Plus, let’s not forget, it is the students who should be learning from your feedback, and how often did you pay attention to the comment rather than the grade as a kid?

Number 4: Location, location, location

I’m a massive preacher of not working on your doorstep. Create some physical distance between your home and school. Yes, the commute is longer (more time for Netflix catchup or last minute planning after a night out), but you’ll be grateful in the long run to not be living in the same neighbourhood as your students and their families. In an instant your personal life is not so personal anymore…

‘Miss, Miss, I saw you out last night!’ – No kidding, Sherlock!

I am classic small town New Zealand, and there is no fun in seeing a student on a night out with your friends.

At the end of the day, let’s face it; teaching is a vocation. You don’t get into it unless you have a passion for it, so expect to be run off your feet and for it to take over your life somewhat. It’s how you manage it, that’s the important thing. The pay out is great!

Contribution from Alexandra D. 

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