People who pursue a career in education are life-long learners who desire to make a profound impact on students. The task of helping shape the leaders of our future demands a consistently high level of commitment from teachers, but this does not mean that work-life balance is out of our reach.
As a current educator, I believe that teachers who achieve work-life balance tend to perceive their work as sustainable and will be more likely to remain in the profession for years to come. I have practiced 5 habits for achieving work-life balance that will be helpful to any teacher who feels stretched too thin.
Habit #1: Establish Times for E-mails
If you regularly check e-mails throughout the day (even outside of contractual working hours), you will begin to blur the lines between your work life and your personal life. In order to achieve work-life balance, I recommend only checking e-mails during the workday and turning off notifications at the end of the workday.
Students, parents, and colleagues will e-mail you outside of your working hours, but that doesn’t always require an immediate response. Make a plan to read any communication that was sent the previous evening by the next morning. If you lack the time to immediately craft a reply, set aside a few minutes of your planning time later to do so.
Habit #2: Eliminate Taking Work Home
While it may be tempting to take papers with you to grade in the comfort of your home, this poses a serious threat to work-life balance. By using tools such as Bakpax, teachers can save hours of time through AI-powered autograding.
However, “work” for a teacher includes much more than just grading student assignments; it can include lesson-planning, reviewing student performance data, preparing materials for students, and so much more. You should collaborate with colleagues to divide labor and conquer tasks whenever it is appropriate.
For example, on a team of three teachers during lesson planning, one member of the team can be responsible for designing the lesson’s visual presentation, another colleague can be charged with creating standards-based questions, and a different colleague can oversee creating interactive activities. With this approach, all tasks do not fall on the shoulders of one teacher, which will save time for everyone and eliminate the need to tackle countless projects outside of the workday.
Habit #3: Establish Times for Parents
Parents who are invested in their children will periodically need to communicate with their teachers. Parent-teacher conferences are important opportunities for parents and teachers to share insights and concerns, but they do not have to interfere with your personal life nor your efforts to achieve work-life balance. I believe in leading parent conversations with transparency, which helps to build a meaningful relationship.
Feel comfortable letting the parent know when it is a hardship to communicate outside of the workday. Always volunteer arranging communication (phone calls or face-to-face meetings) during your planning period. If the parent cannot accommodate the request, feel free to communicate with them immediately after school, but try to limit the frequency of these occurrences.
Habit #4: Monitor Your Thoughts
If you find that you are thinking about work outside of the work-day, you may struggle to achieve work-life balance. It is totally normal to reflect on the day and to anticipate the possibilities of tomorrow after you have left campus, but the amount of time invested into these thoughts must be carefully considered.
You should always monitor your thoughts to make sure that you leave enough room to think about your personal life, interests, hobbies, and dreams. Ensure that your thoughts are positive in nature and that you do not dwell on any negative energy from the workday.
Habit #5: Embrace Your Personal Life
Achieving work-life balance is merely a lofty goal if one does not intentionally embrace their personal life. You must tap into your identity outside of work — outside of being a teacher. After you have discovered your interests, hobbies, and dreams, dedicate some time to engage in them.
For example, if you are passionate about fitness, set aside the time to regularly go for a walk when you leave work for the day. If your dream is to travel more, spend some time planning a weekend getaway or your upcoming summer vacation. If you have a family and friends in your life, make sure that you have uninterrupted time to spend with them; nourish your relationships. The goal is to regularly practice self-care so that you are bringing the best, fullest version of yourself to work each day.
Using these 5 habits together will help you avoid burnout, have more time for your personal life, and remain in the teaching profession for years to come.
For more tips on preventing teacher burnout and achieving more work-life balance, click here.
Ready to save time with all the things you do outside of the classroom? Bakpax is free for teachers and students. Sign up for your free account here.