Recent headlines have highlighted teacher’s workload and the amount of stress and pressure they are put under. One article stated that “workload was the top concern, with 89% citing this as a problem, followed by pay (45%), inspection (44%), curriculum reform (42%) and pupil behaviour (40%)”. This experience can be amplified if you are an NQT encountering some of the hurdles this career encompasses for the first time. Despite this, teaching remains one of the most rewarding careers with one such survey claiming that 83 per cent of teachers claimed they ‘loved their job’.
This tension between job satisfaction and work related stress is well worth addressing, and who better to address these issues than teachers themselves? We’ve asked our World Class team for some advice on how they manage their work-life balance.
Work Life Balance
Class preparation to be done, marking due and observation around the corner – it’s not hard to understand how things can mount up causing unhealthy levels of stress and anxiety. Like may teachers, you may feel preassured to achieve a seemingly insurmountable amount of work. Add to this additional school requirements and extra cirricular activities and it can feel like work consumes your life. It can prove a challenge to find the time to eat and sleep let alone the time to spend at the gym or even in from of the telly!
As teachers you understand the neccesity of setting high expectations, but be aware of setting unrealistic expectations for yourself. Allocate a reasonable amount of school work to be completed outside of working hours and stick the schedule as best you can. Try not to feel guilty for not ticking everything off your list. Start again the next day with vigour and energy knowing that you will work to your potential within your means. It remains imperative that you maintain an active social life outside of school life; make ‘you’ time an absolute priority.
It may seem fairly obvious but how many of you actually say “no” when you need to? While many people struggle with this two letter word, the good news is that saying “no” isn’t as bad as you think. Instead of immediately accepting additional resposibilities consider responding in a way that gives you adequate time to discover if this is something you can realistically commit to without adding unmanageable stress. For example a fair response could be, “I don’t have my diary with me. Can I have a look and get back to you tomorrow?” Being honest and assertive about what you can and can’t do will allow you to prioritise your already busy diary.
In addition to saying “no”, asking for help also gets a bit of a bad rep. If you think you’re the only one struggling you might be relieved to discover your experiences are not unique. Talk to your peers- including those more experienced then you – it can be comforting to see how they manage difficult times and their work / life balance.
Accentuate the Positive
Have you been particularly encouraging to your students lately? Made a break through in class? Stayed back to help that one student who was struggling? Acknowledge your achievements and set up a reward system to give you something to look forward to. This might be a new pair of (comfortable) shoes or sleeping in till 10:30am on Sunday morning. Whatever tickles your fancy, make a point of appreciating yourself for what you have accomplished.
With so much already on your (figurative) plate many teachers are skipping meals and working though lunch. Teaching requires an extraordinary amount of stamina and endurance and it is imperative that you take care of your health. Click here for some super easy and healthy lunch ideas and more advice on teacher wellbeing.
Be Kind to Yourself
When you prosper, so do your students. By this logic it makes sense to invest in your wellbeing give yourself the recognition you deserve.