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- Band-Aiding The Mental Health of Our Children - November 23, 2018
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- Take One For the Team: The Need for Self-Care - August 19, 2018
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I have been out of school for four weeks. If I take my normal work day, which is from 7 am-5 pm, Monday through Friday, I have a total of 50 hours a week that I usually spend working. That totals to 200 hours that I've supposedly had off thus far. This is supposed to be my summer vacation, yet during that four weeks ‘off’ I have spent 44 hours tutoring, 64 hours working on my classroom, six hours on the first week of a six week online class for professional development, with another six week class following this one in order to get curriculum to teach to the kids, twelve hours returning phone calls/emails/text messages about previous students’ forgotten items or answering questions about the upcoming school year and approximately twenty hours working on the upcoming calendar and my lesson plans. This totals 146 total hours that I have spent 'working' during my summer break. This doesn't include the time I have spent lying in bed pinning ideas to ‘Satan’, aka Pinterest, or running around picking up room decor and supplemental materials.
And did I mention that I'm still tired from the end of the school year?
So what can we teachers do to actually have a Summer while still getting the obligations met that we have either signed up to do or have been ‘voluntold’ to do, in addition to the things that MUST get done like setting up our rooms and lesson plans? I have three time-management practices that get me through.
First off I make a list. I'm a huge list maker, like paper pencil list maker. My students will even tell me to ‘put it on my list’ or they will make their own ’lists’. I have three columns: high priority that takes lots of time, high priority that takes a small amount of time and low priority that takes very little time. My high priority items that take lots of time would be something like going through all of my games and puzzles and making sure the pieces are all there. Another would be going through my storage closet and pulling everything out. A high priority item that takes very little time is sorting my library books into stacks by category. When they are sorted I can put them up later. I don't have to sort and put them up at the same time. A low priority item would be checking all of my extra markers to see if they work or shredding the items I've placed in the shredder box. (I live by the old adage ‘Waste not, want not’) I can shred and stop at any time. On the days I tutor I try to hit the low priority items between students. I have also scheduled myself to come into school on Tuesdays to tackle the high priority items that take extra time. As I accomplish items I mark them off the list. Sometimes an item will morph into a different category. If this happens I just mark it off one category and add it to the other. My goal here is to get a job accomplished over the course of summer without panicking a week before school starts to get everything finished.
Next, I set up a schedule and STICK TO IT. I tutor on Mondays and Wednesdays ONLY. I tutor in one-hour increments and allow thirty minutes between clients. I start my day at nine and end my day at five. In between kids I tackle some of my less time-consuming items on my priority list. I have set aside Thursdays and Fridays as my days. I use these days to spend time with family, go grocery shopping and just plain rest. We have to be good to ourselves and take care of ourselves if we are going to take care of others. It's taken me a very long time to figure out the seemingly simplest part of the equation.
Finally, be flexible. I think as teachers we want flexibility from others, but don't expect it for ourselves. We hold ourselves to such high standards and we need to be so much nicer to ourselves and allow ourselves some slack. We deal in a highly emotionally, mentally and physically taxing career. It's time for us to realize these things. It's time for us to remember that we matter just as much as our charges and that some things can and need to be put on the back burner. Trust me, they will still be there tomorrow.
So sit back, breathe and organize your summer so that you actually get to enjoy it while juggling the ever-present work mode.
How do you actually have a summer break?
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