Teaching is hard work. Between teaching all day, parent contacts, prepping, and marking, it seems like the work could go on forever. I, like most teachers, feel the crunch of too many things to do and not enough time. While I definitely do not have the answers, there are some tricks I wish I had known in my first year or teaching. Here are 6 tips to try to have a better work-life balance as a new teacher.
- Put yourself as a priority. If you are burnt out, tired, and overall cranky, you are not being your best self. Taking time to rest and do activities that you genuinely enjoy is incredibly important. It is not selfish to take time for yourself. It is necessary.
- Take breaks. Probably one of the biggest errors I made as a new teacher was to try and mark directly after school without taking a break. When I did this, I had really hard time focusing and did not accomplish all the much. Now I eat a snack and take at least 20 minutes to rest from the busy day before diving into my to-do list. I am way more productive this way and am more energized when working in the afternoon.
- Set a schedule that respects your priorities and do your best to stick with it. You will need time to work, you will need time to rest, you will need time to nourish important relationships. Set a schedule that gives you enough time to do all the things you need to do and do your best to stick with it. If you’ve scheduled yourself to stay late and mark, then do that. If you’ve scheduled time to hang out with you significant other, don’t bring marking along. Set boundaries between your home and work life and try to stick with them.
- Admit that you can’t do it all. There will always be more that you can do. Your lesson plan for tomorrow could always be better. You could always fine-tune your assignment more. Your house could always be cleaner. There is always more that could be done. Admit that you can’t do it all. Try to be crystal clear on your priorities and spend your time of the things that genuinely matter, both to you and your students.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Everyone needs a helping hand every once in a while and the first year that you teach can be quite a learning curve. The vast majority of schools has a team that is there to help. Talk to your Inclusion Support Teacher or Administration about what resources are available to you.
- Find ways to streamline things. Take a look at your life and think about where you can be more efficient. I meal plan and then order my groceries online so that they are all gathered together for me and all I have to do is pick them up. For me, grocery shopping feels like a waste of time and I only want to go to the store once a week and would much prefer to pick out my groceries while sitting in my pyjamas and watching a show at the end of the day than to be in the physical store. Start looking for places in your life and work where you can make things easier for yourself.
Trying to find an appropriate work-life balance as a new teacher can be a challenge. However, it is well worth it! Having a well-rounded life will give you more energy, patience, and is good modelling for students. This will only benefit both you and your students!