November 26, 2011 by Doug Napolitano-Cremin
I am glad that, after an exhausting week, I can still appreciate the irony of writing a post about work-life balance on a Saturday afternoon! I am hoping though that writing this post will prove to be a cathartic experience.
I have always been aware of the importance of maintaining a healthy balance between work and play. However it was only after attending TeachMeet London (#TMLondon) and seeing the inspiring Kathryn Lovewell (@KathrynLovewell) speak, that I really started to think properly about what I can do to manage my time, and stress levels, effectively.
This year, my 5th in teaching, has been incredibly intense. Since starting back at work in September, I think I can count on one hand the days that I have left work before 4.30. The last two weeks of my summer holiday were spent ‘refurbishing’ my lab to create a more welcoming and positive learning environment. A large chunk of the half-term in October was spent marking work and writing schemes of work. There have been Parents Evenings, Open Evenings, Homework Information Evenings, Masters Meetings, Whole School Meetings, Department Meetings and Year Team Meetings to attend this term.
The thing is, I wouldn’t want to do any other job. I love teaching and learning. I feel like the luckiest person alive to have the opportunity to do what I love every single day. I am acutely aware though that it is because I love my job so much, because I am so interested in the profession in which I work, and because I do not want to let any of my pupils down, that I regularly neglect the ‘play’ part of my life. I know that if this continues I am in danger of suffering from the type of burn-out that Kathryn described at #TMLondon. After the meeting, I happened to start reading the ‘Look Who’s Learning Too’ blog written by an amazing teacher, William Lau (@lauwailap1), who was also at #TMLondon. After reading Lau’s,‘Manifesto for Effective Sustainable Teaching’ post I knew exactly what I had to do. A simple set of ‘rules’ that I could live by. Rules to ensure that I can carry on doing the job that I love as effectively and as efficiently as I can whilst enjoying the precious time I have with my family outside of work…
- Twitter is switched off and left unchecked after 8pm midweek and after 6pm of the weekends.
- No marking is EVER to be brought home.
- No more than 1 hours work is completed at home midweek, and no more than 4 hours on the weekend.
- In bed by 11pm every night!
- A cup of camomile tea every morning and ensure I am continuously drinking water during the day to avoid the usual headaches.
- I will leave work by 4pm at least one day a week (Fridays don’t count!).
- I need to complete at least 30 minutes of some form of physical exercise 6 days a week, with an aim of 3 runs a week.
- Look after my body as much as I am trying to look after my mind by ensuring I have a healthy balanced diet. No takeaways. No stodgy sandwiches or rolls from work canteen. Avoid the staff-room on ‘Cake Day’ Fridays.
Looking at the list above, they should be easy rules to live by. Hopefully it shouldn’t be too long to recognise a difference in my work and my ‘normal’ life. I will hopefully have time to reflect on and review the manifesto in the New Year!
‘What is the reason for living life, other than to love it?’
(Thanks to Kathryn Lovewell and William Lau for the inspiration)