A work-life balance? What’s that?

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***Disclaimer: Ok, I am the worst blogger ever. I meant to post the following blog about six weeks ago. Saying “I never got round to it” is the worst excuse, I know. But…I never got round to it. So, some of it isn’t current (such as the amount of time I’ve been on placement). I now have just under 3 and a half weeks left of placement. However, the general thinking and idea behind it remains the same and I would still love your thoughts on it! Thanks for reading and I’m looking forward to being back blogging on a more regular basis soon! I have SO much to talk about 🙂 Kate.***

 

I’m typing this on the train to school, because it’s the only real time I seem to be able to find in a day to type something like this. I’m on placement and have to catch the train everyday. The train ride itself isn’t so bad; between 25-35 minutes. The walk either end bumps up the overall commute. And when the true British winter weather appears (which it has done many times) it becomes harder and harder to stay, first of all, dry and warm, but also motivated and inspired for the day ahead.

I started the placement with the obvious targets and aims; I wanted to do well and still do. Another aim was something which I’ve failed on so much in the past, which is giving myself some time in the week completely away from placement work, to just relax.

The first week was positive. I managed to take a night out to have pizza with my friends and I really enjoyed it. In the second week I had one evening where I finished early and just watched TV with my boyfriend. However, this week I have had to turn down plans to meet up with friends in the evening, simply because I have TOO MUCH on. And I’ve also had to cancel weekend plans because of the same reason. Now I HATED doing this. When asked by a friend if I’d “prefer not” to meet up, I replied that prefer was the wrong word. I would prefer TO meet up, but I just couldn’t. Once I’d done all the household chores, done a food shop, kept my meeting with my lettings agents, it left little time for any schoolwork. I was meeting my brother to go to the cinema on Sunday, a longstanding arrangement, so that was out too, pretty much.

I started with good intentions to do schoolwork on the train, but after doing it once, lugging exercise books and/or my laptop on the train, with an accumulative 40 minute walk either end didn’t seem quite such a good idea…

I guess the main purpose of my ramblings is to ask a question to all teachers out there; how do you maintain a work-life balance? Or can’t you? I really would like to know your thoughts because it’s something I do struggle with!

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7 thoughts on “A work-life balance? What’s that?

  1. I’m guessing from your status as a trainee that you might be quite young? First of all, as you get older, you tend not to socialise as much because you’re more fatigued in general and you might have child or eldercare responsibilities. Most people, regardless of their career, will get into a habit of not really socialising during the working week, but will make sure that they see friends and family at the weekend. Still, it is normal and healthy to want and need an evening off to mong out or just spend time with your own children. We need downtime.

    In education, many are very used to giving up all their spare ‘headspace’ and extra time to The Job. This is not healthy. I would say that, given the demands of modern teaching practice, you should at least aim for a clear weekend with maybe a couple of hours planning of a Sunday morning. If your weekends are being destroyed, then GET OUT whilst you can.

    1. I am quite young. However, I wouldn’t say my social life is quite as manic as a stereotypical “student”. Despite this, I have still found it common on this placement to have no nights off on weekdays and spend one of the two weekend days working :/ is this sustainable? Yet, I’ve met and worked with lots of teachers who do this but still love the job and wouldn’t change a thing.

  2. Hi – you raise questions all teachers ask! Training is hectic and it’s not surprise that your evenings are occupied. To add to that, once you get the hang of a school, you’re off somewhere else. Nevertheless, all work and no play will grind you down. It’s important that you find a balance. I think anyone in work finds that you can’t really be spontaneous during the week. Try to have one evening for some down time (even if it’s Friday), book things with friends in advance, then practice planning around these times. The first year is hard too, but it does get easier – hang on in there!

  3. It depends what you are doing with your “work” bits of life.
    Three things that help me:
    Planning resources which work over and over again, so that my resourcing is cut down
    Using shared resources from within the Department
    “Cheat” marking wherever possible – ticksheets, pre-printed comments which I sign, marking in class, marking via codes which students then write out longhand… A real mix of these is effective – too much of any one is not.

    I know from trainees I’ve mentored over the years that many of the demands are artificially created by the course – these disappear in your NQT year. Grit your teeth, and get to the end of the year – that will solve some percentage of your problem. It is possible – as a Head of English, I manage Saturday and Sunday mostly free, working Sat am for a couple of hours, and Sunday evening for three.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I agree, much of my work is course related stuff. I really do feel like the amount we have to complete as evidence for uni coupled with the classroom stuff is impossible to ever finish completely. It’s about prioritising but everything is so important! I have 2 and a half weeks left and, as I have for the whole placement, will put my everything into it. I just spend every night working until late and then most of the weekend and it just leaves me wondering if it’s sustainable?

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