Navigating the ever-elusive work-life balance can be a real challenge for teachers. The perpetual ‘to-do’ list of a teacher often spills over into the home, leading to a detrimental impact on mental health. From heightened anxiety to a compromised social life, the repercussions of a poor work-life balance are profound.
Finding and maintaining work-life balance is no easy feat, but it’s undoubtedly essential. In this blog, we’ll delve into some strategies that can help:
**1. Set Clear Goals and Boundaries**
Begin by establishing tangible goals or guidelines for your work hours. Can you set specific times when work stays at school? Consider refraining from bringing marking home or committing to a cut-off time for work-related tasks. Allocating a dedicated break during lunch can also work wonders in carving out personal time amidst the demands of the day.
**2. Create Physical and Mental Boundaries**
Differentiate your home environment from your workspace. If possible, leave work at school to create a mental separation between professional responsibilities and personal life. In cases where you must bring work home, designate a specific area where you can physically close the door on work when needed. Not syncing your work email with your phone can also help create a boundary between downtime and work.
**3. Planning and Marking**
Try to avoid over-planning your lessons. Aim to build up a bank of activities and lessons that can be adapted for various subjects or topics and that don’t require you to re-invent the wheel every time.
Embracing the concept of ‘Live-marking’ and whole-class feedback, not only lightens your workload but also provides immediate feedback to students during the lesson, fostering a more efficient feedback and improvement cycle. You can find out more about these techniques in the ‘Teaching WalkThrus’ series by Tom Sherrington.
**4. Embrace Reflection and Mindfulness**
Incorporate brief moments of meditation or journaling into your daily routine. These practices offer invaluable opportunities for self-reflection, allowing you to introspect on both professional and personal aspects of life. Journaling, in particular, serves as a powerful outlet to externalise worries and thoughts, helping declutter the mind.
**5. Learn the Power of ‘No’ and Seek Support**
Prioritise tasks by employing a practical system, such as a traffic light model, to distinguish between urgent, important, and less pressing responsibilities. Embrace the strength in saying ‘no’ when your plate is full. Effective communication about workload constraints can prevent overwhelming commitments, thereby safeguarding your well-being. Don’t hesitate to seek support from colleagues or SLT when necessary.
Achieving work-life balance isn’t one-size-fits-all. It’s a dynamic process that may require experimentation and adjustments to suit your unique circumstances and preferences. Most importantly, don’t beat yourself up if, at times, you don’t manage balance and become overwhelmed. Be kind to yourself, refer back to your goals and boundaries and try to readjust.
If you are struggling with work-life balance or experiencing symptoms of burnout, you can get in contact with Education Support for advice and support.
Many of our supply teachers find that supply teaching gives them greater control over their work-life balance. If this is something you’d like to explore, then please get in contact and we’d be happy to discuss option with you.