“Do you even do any work?” “Mate, I’ve seen your workload, you can have the holidays” “Are you ok, what’s up?” “What are you so happy about?” If you’re a teacher, you would have heard things like this before. If you’re a teacher’s spouse or housemate, you would have said things like this before. But if you’re neither, and you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to live with a teacher (as everyone has – we were all curious students once, right?), read on!
Droughts and floods. That will be your first observation if you were to be a fly upon our walls. Term time brings lesson preparation, homework marking, assessment marking, book marking. And that’s before exam and reporting weeks have hit. It is personal preference how much gets taken home and thus how much you would see of us. But either way, you will not see us socialising much on week evenings. Work pours upon our heads and we kick to stay afloat. Some evenings, the most you might get from us is a grunt or a glimpse of our backs as we slink away to get on with marking. Occasionally you might get called over to giggle or marvel at a student’s work.
But then there’s the droughts, the time of beautiful droughts: holidays. You won’t be seeing us in the mornings because we’ll be sleeping in. You won’t be seeing us at night because we’ll be at the pub, Michelin Star restaurants. Or maybe you will see us commandeering the living room, all curled up catching up on Tiger King. You might not see us at all because we’re hiking the El Camino or on a deserted beach somewhere in Australia. Yeah we might do a bit of wrapping up or preparation in the days immediately following and preceding term time, but that doesn’t count, right? That’s our physical presence, or lack thereof. How about our emotional presence? Well if the workload is like periods of rain then our emotional state is more like the Alps than the London basin. Yep, some pretty great peaks but some pretty solid lows too.
Achieve Work-Life Balance As a Teacher
We’re all wired differently and some will be better than others at managing their emotions and how much they bring their work home with them. There will be days when you’re a punching bag for a student’s problems but also those times when a successful activity or heart-warming conversation puts you on Cloud 9. I was unable to enjoy the one and only gig I saw of my favourite band because I was ruminating on a confrontation with a student that day (must have been an unusually quiet time of term…). At the same time, I’ve been on a high for days after having students compliment my teaching. It’s just one of those jobs and, for better or worse, our partners and housemates can be the ones who receive the fallout. Mind you, that is just term time. Come holidays and, well, no prizes for guessing how we’re feeling.
There is something else interesting about the social nature of the profession that has consequences for domesticity and that is the draining of our social battery. After hours of acting a role on a real life stage, self-censoring your language, expression, tone and monitoring the behaviour of others (besides all the non-interactive aspects of the job)…you can be socially cooked. And that can often mean the desire for some alone time, or at least some passive time, when you get home.
Of course, we’re all different aren’t we. Take this all with a grain of salt. And if you’re living with a supply teacher, they’re going to be around much more…or not, because their idyllic work/life balance is being maximised. And depending on when you’re reading this, we’re all currently home conducting lessons in front of our computers!