By Teachers, For Teachers
Let’s face it, a teacher’s life is pretty busy. It may feel like an endless cycle of trying to juggle your school life with your home life. Just know that you are not alone, and many teachers feel just as you do. It doesn’t matter if you teach kindergarten or 12th grade, it can become quite overwhelming to try and keep everything afloat all the time. So what’s the secret to staying sane enough to be able to juggle it all? Well it may not be as simple as one secret, but rest assured there are a few teaching strategies that can help you to better manage your time, both in school and at home. Follow these teaching strategies today and you will be on your way to a more manageable life.
The first step to being able to juggle it all is to prioritize. This means that you need to figure what is most important on your to do list, both in school and out of school. Do you really need to cut 22 snowmen out for your students, or is this something that they can do themselves? Take the time to look at what needs to be done and choose what can wait a few days, and what needs to be completed right now. By prioritizing your time on paper, you are giving yourself a visual that will help complete one task at a time. You will be amazed with how many things that you thought you had to do right away, that can actually wait.
Being able to complete many tasks at once is something that most teachers have found they can do quite well, mostly because their job requires them to do so. However, it’s OK to ask for help. Let go of the control and assign jobs for your students to complete in the classroom, or allow them to switch papers and grade their own work. You even have the option to ask for parent volunteers or have the room mom (if you are so lucky to have one) help you out. When you are at home, you can ask your family to pitch in on the housework. Learn to let go, and let people help you.
Sometimes it may feel like you are being pulled in a million different directions. Your school asks you to chair a committee, but you are already on two of them. Plus, you have to bake brownies for your child’s bake sale, and you signed up to volunteer for your son’s sports team concession stand. On top of all of that, you are expected to chaperone the school dance, you have to have your grades in to your principal by Friday, and you have to prepare for parent-teacher conferences next week. Then, you ask yourself “What was I thinking?” You are overbooked and overwhelmed. Do you have to bake those brownies, or can you just buy them? Do you have to say yes to chair yet another school committee, or is it possible that you say no? Say NO! It’s great to be involved inside and outside of school activities, but you don’t always have to be the one in charge. Learn to say no to things and you will see that being able to juggle it all can be possible.
You have to realize that your own body and mind are just as important as anyone else’s. It’s easier to keep busy and get burned out, than it is to take a few minutes to think about yourself and your own sanity. Do something for you that isn’t on your to do list. Go take a walk, plan a lunch date with your girlfriends, take a yoga class, or just sit and binge watch a television show. As long as you are talking time for yourself, you will find that everyday life and all of its unexpected interruptions will be much easier to handle.
Now this tip may have you running for the door, but before you do, you need to listen. If you get to work about a half an hour early, before anyone is there, you can get so much stuff done. You can set up your classroom, finish anything that you need to finish, or just take a few minutes to settle in before the chaos begins. And if you stay a few minutes late, you can tie up any loose ends, finish grading any papers, or do whatever it is that you need to do so that you won’t have to take your work home with you.
Life is a struggle and it takes some practice to learn how to juggle it all. Begin by following these tips: Learn how to prioritize, learn to say no, take time for yourself, ask for help, and get up a few minutes earlier. By doing so, you will find that managing your day will get a little bit easier.
What are your top tips for how to juggle it all? Please share what works for you and your work/home life in the comment section below, we would love to hear what you do.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.