As my New Year's Resolution, I decided that I needed to stop bringing work home with me. I was feeling overtired and grouchy. My health was suffering.
Teachers are being asked to do more and more, in and outside of their classroom. It's no wonder that many of us feel burnt out.
I was definitely at the burn out point. I needed to come up with a strategy to work smarter, not harder. Here are some of the strategies that I used to make sure that I am not bringing work home with me.
1. Scheduling My Planning Time
In theory, I have about two and a half hours of planning time per day. This is mostly because my daughter has an after-school class that she takes on-site each day. It seemed like I should be able to stop working at home pretty easily.
But the reality is that I struggled to get everything done. I have multiple meetings per week. My time never seemed to stretch far enough.
I decided to start scheduling my daily prep time. To find out more about how I schedule my prep time, read this post.
I also put together a great prep-time playlist and take my AirPods to work with me every day. A little music keeps me motivated and prevents me from getting distracted by everything around me.
2. Having My Students Do More
In order to make sure that I could stop bringing work home, I started having my students do more in the classroom. I started assigning them class jobs and training them to do the tasks that I didn't need to be doing.
There are so many ways that you can empower your students to do more. I wrote an entire post about increasing student autonomy in my classroom. You can read that post here.
3. Deleting My School Email from my Phone – But Adding My Calendar
I spent a LOT of time checking and responding to emails from my phone at home. Then I realized that checking my email at home was making me feel anxious and was pulling me away from my family. I deleted the app from my phone in January.
And… nothing awful happened. My email is still there when I get to work. I am able to answer most of my emails when students are working on their warm-ups.
When I deleted my work email from my phone, I added my Calendar. I started making sure that I am adding everything that comes up to my Calendar. Having it at my fingertips helps me to make a more reasonable prep schedule, see if the commitments I am making are doable, and make sure that personal events (like hair appointments) are being scheduled when they don't interfere with anything at work.
4. Just Saying No – With one Exception
After getting pneumonia in the Fall, I realized that I really couldn't do everything. So I started saying no. I stopped attending PTO meetings, signing up for committees and doing after school homework help.
Also, I also crossed a bunch of things off of my to-do list that I would love to do, but I don't HAVE TO do them.
I do feel guilty about it. But this has given me more time to work on the things that really matter.
For one, it has freed me up to provide my students with substantive feedback on their assignments. This is paying off big time. Students are learning from their mistakes more than ever before, especially because their assignments are being handed back in a timely manner.
I am also passionate about making sure that science is being taught in all grades throughout my district. If an opportunity comes up to support district-wide science, I always say yes.
By saying no to the things that aren't really important, I have freed myself up to do the things that really make a difference.
5. Going in Early or Staying Until It's Done
There is A LOT to do. I still struggle to get it all done.
So when I am having trouble squeezing everything in, I head to work early or stay late.
In some ways, it kind of sucks to be the last one out of the parking lot on some Fridays. But it is also worth it if I can have a whole weekend away from work.
And knowing that I may have to stay late helps keep me on track during those scheduled prep times.
Exceptions to the Rule
This hasn't been perfect. There are a couple things that I do at home. For example, we have a nice printer that almost always works. If I need to print something, it is just easier to do it at home.
Also, my husband has been working out in the mornings. That means he hasn't been able to take my daughter to school in the morning. I can't get to school very early when she is with me so there have been a couple of mornings when I prepped from home.
Other Helpful Posts:
- 7 Ways to Promote Student Autonomy in Your Classroom This Year
- Scheduling My Prep Time
- My Goals for 2020
What are the tips and tricks you use so that you could stop bringing work home? I would love to hear your tips and tricks. Comment below!