How You Can Set Rules and Include Time Each Day for Self-Care (It CAN be done!)

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When you feel burned-out, you’re not giving yourself enough credit. You’re working so hard and you’re doing so much with teaching. People say it’s the hardest job. If you’re not filling your bucket back up, you’re just pouring and pouring and pouring and it’s done. You have nothing left and you’re really burned-out.
— Brittany, Burned-In Teacher

You heard it here on BIT: you DO have control over your time and where you work. You have to believe it and just like I’ve said 1,000,000 times, “It is not normal to live like you’ve been living. You can say enough is enough. You can leave at a decent time and spend time with those who you love. You can make choices about where and how you work. You can decide what is best for you. Putting yourself first is a requirement in order to beat burnout.”

This blog post is all about that. The idea that WE get a say in our work-life balance and WE get to say, “No. More. No more working at school until 6:00 each evening, just to take more work home with us that evening and on the weekends.”

Brittany, from The BIT Podcast Ep #009 Interview, “Brittany Urges Us to Set Rules for Ourselves and Build Relationships”, offered several ways that she allows time for self-care, rest, and fun with her friends and family. I also have a few more ideas on how you can use your time at school differently and be more productive during your contract hours.

Here Are Five Rules That Will Allow Time for Self-Care Each Day:

1.I will leave school by 4:00 most days of the week. NO excuses unless it is a school function that I am obligated to or required to attend.

This first rule is a catalyst for changes that you will see if you follow the final four rules that follow this one. If you create boundaries for the time that you arrive/leave, you’ll begin to see ways that you can use your time differently during your school day.

So, set a timer or reminder or you could even have a friend call to remind you that you HAVE to leave now. No excuses. Feel overwhelmed by leaving all that work at school? Check out Rule Five for some productivity ideas.

2. I WILL DELETE SEESAW, SCHOOL EMAIL, AND ALL OTHER FORMS OF CONTACT WITH work OFF OF MY PHONE. IF IT’S AN EMERGENCY, THEY KNOW MY PHONE NUMBER.

When you leave your job (because, yes, teaching is a job - not a lifestyle), your attachment to your email and other forms of communication with possible causes of stress and/or spur-of-the-moment (non-emergency) contact with parents and students should be left at school too. Do not feel guilty about not being available 24/7 for your students, their parents, or your administrator. If they’re choosing to work and send emails on a Friday or Saturday night while you’re out either living it up or relaxing with the family, that’s their choice. It doesn’t have to ruin your life in the moment. Of course, respect your school’s response policy (mine was within 24 hours during the school week) , but do not allow families or other school personnel to take advantage of your personal time outside of the school contract hours. This is not something ‘teachers just do.’

3. I will not grade at home. Ever. I will make things easier for me to handle during the school day.

If you’re teaching in the 21st century and have so much grading to do that you’re taking it home each night and weekend to grade, you may want to consider changing your practices. Not because you should ‘get with the times’, but because technology and current teaching practices are really set up for both teacher and student success. There are way too many opportunities for that work to be done differently and in a way that allows you time to grade/give feedback at school - even during instructional time. Yep! It can and is being done.

Not taking work home to grade will again, change your mindset in the way you are using your time with your students. Studies show that grading and/or giving feedback WITH (yes, setting beside them) is far more effective and meaningful than if you take it home for a week, mark the crap out of it, and then hand it back. And really, are you teaching them anything that way? Just food for thought.

Imagine all the things you can do with that time: go for a walk, read a book, take a nap, get a massage, watch a movie with friends, go out to eat with your family (or make dinner for a change), the possibilities are endless!

4. I will be more efficient during my contract hours. I will use technology selfishly to make my job easier.

If you know me, you know I love Google Tools. But, not just for ways that students can use them to create, show their thinking, and collaborate. I love them even more for the ways that teachers can use them to make their job more efficient. Here are some ways you can use Google to cut your time with ‘clerical’ work in half:

  • Use Google Slides to plan your days and weeks. Create a folder called “Daily Slides” or “Weekly Slides” and share it with your administrator to ‘view’. Then, create folders per ‘Week’ with a slide show that you create to fit either your daily/weekly routines, lessons, or units of study. If your admins require you to type out your lessons, tell them that your details will now be included in the presenter notes at the bottom of your lesson/unit slide and your “I can…” statements will be found in the slides. Each week, make a copy of the slide show and rename it for the following week. You can then make the necessary changes as you plan for next week. These slides will be used for instruction also, that’s what makes them so valuable! Check out my example HERE. (Keep in mind, I taught elementary, so adjust the slides to meet your needs.)

  • Use Google Keep, Calendar, Reminders, and Tasks to remember things you frequently forget and download the Google Calendar, Keep, and Tasks App so you can jot down things you’re afraid you’ll forget as you’re relaxing in the evenings and on weekends (because turning the teacher brain off is hard and sometimes you just gotta jot it down.)

    • I’ve linked to a YouTube video that will help you understand what these tools are and how you can use them selfishly to gain control over your thinking, to-do lists, and organization of your days and time.

    • THE ONLY REASON I’M SUGGESTING FOR YOU TO DOWNLOAD APPS IS SO YOU CAN ALSO USE THESE TOOLS TO ORGANIZE YOUR PERSONAL LIFE AS WELL. WHEN YOU CAN FEEL IN CONTROL OF BOTH - YOU’VE NAILED IT! :)

5. I will let go, believe that I’m enough, and quit taking all of the decisions that are out of my hands personally.

Simply believe that you are enough (pending that you are doing a good job (I DIDN’T SAY PERFECT) at work, being kind to kids and coworkers, and using your time wisely). You are more than a teacher. You’re a friend, sister, brother, parent, anything else other than/in addition to a teacher.

We have to stop believing that line of, “This is just what teachers do. We are superheroes and can do anything.” Now, I’m not saying that teachers can’t do amazing things, because they DO, but we are humans, just like other workers out there and we deserve to live a life outside of school.

There are things that happen and decisions that are made for us daily, that are (for the most part) out of our control. It is YOU who decide how you’re going to react/proact to those decisions. If you don’t understand your expectations, ask. If you don’t agree, ask for time to explain your thinking and reasons for why you don’t feel those decisions are best for kids or you as a teacher who is trying to balance life and work. Maybe you’ll learn that you misunderstood your expectations and things aren’t so stressful after all.

Believe you’re in control and it will be the truth.

These rules may be hard to follow, but I swear, putting boundaries up and setting yourself up for success outside of your classroom is going to rock your world! YOU ARE MORE THAN YOUR JOB AS A TEACHER, SO BEGIN TO ACT IT UNTIL YOU BELIEVE IT!

Jump into our BIT Facebook Community and tell us what rules you’re setting to go to school, be the best you can be there, and then be the best you of YOUR CHOICE.

Comment below and tell me what rules you want for yourself or for me to share with the BIT Community!

YOU CAN DO THIS! YOU ARE YOUR OWN HERO. BURN ON!

Amber HarperComment