As educators, we know that most days, the school day extends long past the 6-7 hours our students are in the classroom. Work comes home with us on nights and weekends. However, this year in particular, it is important to reserve downtime for things that do not involve school. Taking less work home at the end of the day is hugely important. For me, home has to be home. The moment I walk through our front door I want to be able to shed off the day and leave it all outside.
As a middle school teacher, teaching one subject, four times a day, I really did have it easy in the planning department. Grading got to be a little much sometimes (I’m talking 80 assignments deep) however, it was never as crazy as this year. Third grade is a whole other animal. Teaching every subject- yikes.
When it comes to planning, my team is essential. I wrote about this in my last post, “work smarter, not harder.” Otherwise, I have a few specific strategies I’ve been using this year to stay sane and balanced- leaving work at work at the end of the day.
Plan Your Time At Work Accordingly and Use It Wisely
First, you need to figure out if you’re a “before school” or “after school” worker. Then, give yourself that time to really engage with what you need to get done. Make to-do lists or leave things out in the order they need to be completed. Also, check your time usage. Are you chatting with coworkers for twenty-thirty minutes? I’m all for a good teacher talk (we all need some adult conversation every now and again) however, I try to make sure it doesn’t cut into too much of my designated “work time.”
Put Your Things Away When You Walk In The Door
It is so helpful to me to have my school things out of sight and out of mind when I get home. If my goal is to complete my work at school rather than at home, I make sure my computer is away in a closet somewhere where I can’t “grab it quick” to check something.
Use Your Notes App To Help With Reminders
My team and I often talk about those moments where you wakeup in the middle of the night, in a cold sweat, remembering you need to do something in the classroom. For me, the notes app on my phone is a life-saver. I’ll grab my phone, jot my thought down, and leave the note open on my phone so that when I wake up, I can write it somewhere more obvious and come back to it later.
Set Boundaries With Your Coworkers and Admin
This is a big one for me because I am an obliger (see Gretchen Rubin’s Five Tendencies) and will always go above and beyond to meet my obligations to others. That being said, I need my coworkers and admin to understand that I am trying not to reply to emails after school hours. While we are shifting towards an understanding in education that educators deserve more “down time” outside of the school day, sometimes it is still forgotten by those in the throws of “I need this done now” and “I need these answers immediately.” My team has been firm with each other this year that we should go home at the end of the day and head out on weekends with the goal of doing things for us. We’ve set a better expectation for each other than “please reply to me ASAP.” Now, we don’t always follow that through all the way, but we certainly are trying!
Are there any tried and true strategies you use to keep work at work rather than home? Leave a comment below!