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How to maintain a healthy work-life balance as a Teacher in the 21st century?

A classroom is like a stage where a teacher performs every day. Just like a performing artist, a teacher has to prepare behind the stage for the act to be performed on the stage. Teaching is the only profession where an individual has to work for many unpaid hours after work on a daily basis. These unpaid working hours are spent planning lessons, grading papers and reviewing the lectures.

How to maintain a healthy work-life balance as a teacher in the 21st century (3)

A lot of non-teachers have the opinion that teaching is an easier job. People think that teachers have to work only for nine months and their working hours get over with the school hours. While teachers do get summer vacations, their job is still comparatively hectic.

If teaching is an easy job, then why is the teacher turnover rate so high in different parts of the world? A report by National Foundation for Education Research shows that teaching is a more stressful profession compared to other job roles.

Facts and Figures

These figures show that there is an immediate need to relieve teachers and make their profession more stress-free. Teachers tend to face burnout earlier in their professional lives and thus they need to follow a routine that would help them maintain a work-life balance.

upEducators has trained more than 3000 teachers in using educational technology and becoming tech-savvy. Various educators facing burnout have shared different tips with upEducators regarding dealing with the stress and pressure of the teaching profession. Here are some of the best and most helpful tips as per the findings that would allow teachers in achieving work-life balance.

  • Adapt Blended Teaching-Learning

Why waste your time on completing tasks manually when one can rely on digital tools? Blended learning helps educators in mixing face-to-face learning strategies with digital education tools and methods.

For instance, for weekly assessments, teachers can rely on sharing online quizzes and tests and use the time saved on lesson planning and teaching. Blended or hybrid teaching with digital tools can help teachers in managing time and stress. Teachers thus need upskilling to become tech-savvy educators. Teachers in the 21st century need to update their skills every now and then with industry-relevant certification courses for educators.

  • Better Time-Management

Have you ever cancelled your plans for the weekend to grade papers? You’re not alone in this vicious cycle. Teachers are paid for working 45 hours a week. But most teachers end up spending 15+ unpaid working hours every week. This could be the result of inefficient time management.

Prioritise the tasks for a day and stick to a checklist. Try finishing daily tasks during working hours by making deadlines for different tasks. Avoid procrastination at all costs.

Try to complete a large fraction of grading in your free periods during school hours. Lesson planning takes a large amount of time a teacher’s time. Take out a few hours during the weekend and make the lesson plans for the entire week together.

  • Develop Organisational Skills

According to an article published on Indeed.com, teachers need to develop organisational skills for professional development. Organising lessons, assignments, documents and other tasks is a crucial part of the daily lives of teachers. Effective time management is a by-product of enhanced organisational skills.

Teachers must learn to use both digital and physical tools that would enable better organisation in the classroom. Digital platforms like Google and Microsoft provide various organising tools for the classroom. For instance, teachers can use Google Keep to make lists and keep checking them after completing a task.

  • Practice Mindfulness

A teacher’s job is more than teaching facts and imparting knowledge. Most teacher training courses are based on learning pedagogies and following the curriculums. Teachers graduate from such institutes without getting awareness of the emotional demands of this selfless profession. This is what leads to early burnout and stress in educators all over the world.

Practising mindfulness as a teacher can help in stress management. Mindfulness is when we are in control of our thoughts, feelings, sensations and surroundings. Accepting and focusing on the present moment is practising mindfulness.

Teachers can meditate and do other activities like Yoga to be mindful of their thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations. This would enable educators to deal with the students and promote a positive learning experience in the classroom.

  • Find Time For Things You Enjoy

An educator’s life revolves around losing sleep over other people’s children. Teachers spend a major fraction of their day in teaching, lesson planning and grading papers. Even though most teachers love their jobs, overworking can result in burnout.

Teachers must invest a part of their day in doing things unrelated to teaching. A primary school teacher used journaling every day to deal with the stress at work. The journaling helped her in enhancing her writing skills and she ended up publishing her short stories and poetry collection in various literary magazines.

Your hobbies should not always convert into monetary or other materialistic benefits. But one should try to make time for things they love on daily basis. The things we enjoy can save us from early burnout and stress from work.

  • Learn to say no when needed

Are you one of those teachers who always end up organising the field trips as nobody else volunteers for such tasks? Do you always have the unending need to please the authorities by saying yes to everything? People who can’t say no when they feel like saying it end up living a stressful life both personally and professionally.

Teachers spend their working hours on various teaching and non-teaching activities. Some tasks are inevitable while other unimportant tasks can be avoided simply by saying no. Practice and learn to say no whenever required.

  • Socialises with friends outside work

Has your professional life taken over your personal life? Do you hang out with your co-workers even on the weekends? Do you only talk to your friends from work every day?

Building good friendships with your co-workers is not a bad thing. But socialising with people other than your co-workers is important. Most conversations with your friends from work revolve around your profession and workplace. Teachers need to build friendships outside schools and colleges to be able to talk about things apart from their work.

  • Add screen-free breaks to your day

Whether you are an online educator or you teach in a physical classroom, digital tools are replacing various physical tools in the education industry. This eventually leads to increased screen time for educators.

While there is no harm in spending quality time online discussing a lesson plan with your peers, teachers must learn to spend time away from their screens. Divide the online classes into portions. Students and teachers should take a few minutes away from the screen to work on a lesson and then regroup to hold discussions.

Teachers must not rely completely on digital tools and platforms for tasks that can be completed otherwise. Take a break for 15-20 minutes after one session instead of jumping straight into another class.

Maintaining healthy work-life balance as a teacher

Teaching in the 21st century involves more work for teachers. A lot of traditional educators are getting used to blended learning techniques and modern pedagogies to enhance the teaching-learning process. It is thus essential to manage stress as educators and follow practices that would help you in dealing with everyday pressure in the classroom. This would eventually lead to avoiding burnout and decreasing teacher turnover rates globally. 

Author: This article is written by Samiya Rashid for upEducators blog.

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