This is the second installment of our You Know You’re a Teacher When… series, based on the question we asked our network of teachers earlier this year. After reviewing your responses, it became clear that many educators have trouble turning off “teacher mode” at the end of the day or for the weekends. Bringing work home, constantly multi-tasking, and fighting the urge to stop children from running in public places were just a few of the things you mentioned.
Additionally, your family, friends, and your (poor, poor) spouses are routinely subjected to your teacher mindset. They have been asked if they need to use the potty, fear timeouts and behavior charts, have had their food cut for them, have been told to use their indoor voices, have had their shoe laces tied for them, often have their pronunciation corrected, and may be asked to share their “glows” and “grows.”
“You Know You’re a Teacher When ________”
“It is Saturday or Sunday and you can eat your lunch in about 5 minutes.”
– Dara, Pennsylvania
“You answer to your name, Mom, Grandma, and many other names.”
– Victoria, Mississippi
“Your closet is arranged by ‘teacher’ clothes and ‘other’ clothes.”
– Corrinne, South Dakota
“You go to a store and notice some words misspelled in the labels and advertisements, and you go and tell the manager.”
– Raquel, Illinois
“While sleeping, you dream about rubrics to go with future projects.”
– Marshalla, New York
“You have more friends under the age of 10 than over.”
– Nancy, South Dakota
“You randomly push in chairs no matter where you are.”
– Jennifer, Massachusetts
“You carry a stack of papers to grade everywhere you go.”
– Christine, Pennsylvania
“Your car dings to tell you to put a seatbelt on the passenger, but it’s only your book bag on the seat!”
– Janet, Pennsylvania
“The first thing your husband asks when you get home is, ‘Got any kid stories today?’”
– Cheryl, Tennessee
“You want to correct people’s grammar mistakes on Facebook.”
– Susan, Virginia
“You can recite the exact number of days, hours, and minutes until spring break!”
– Aimee, Georgia
“You wake up in the middle of the night with a great idea for the lesson plan that you were dreaming about!”
– Kylie, Colorado
Tips on Creating a Work/Life Balance
A survey of 20,000 public school teachers revealed they work an average of 11 hours and 40 minutes per day— about a 53-hour work week. It’s no wonder that your mind never wanders far from “teacher mode,” even in your free time. However, creating a work/life balance is important for your mental and physical health, your relationships, and, in the long run, even your students’ progress.
Maximize Your “Prime Time”
Are you a morning person? Do you hit your stride by your mid-day planning period? Or do you do your best work when your family is tucked in for the night? Identify the time that you do your best work and maximize it.
Set Working Hours
As much as possible, try to set professional working hours for yourself. Most of your day is spent in front of the class, so allot yourself 1–2 hours before school and/or 1–2 hours after school to get important tasks completed, like grading papers, reporting, lesson planning, meetings, and answering emails. This will help you avoid bringing lots of work home with you.
Assign Your Time
When you finally have time to get work done (an early morning in a quiet classroom or a free planning period), do you find yourself without direction? Assign a focused task each day, so when it’s time to work, you know exactly what to tackle. For example, every Monday is grading, Wednesday is making copies for the next week, Thursday is writing lesson plans for the next week, etc.
The Power of No
This may be the hardest tip for teachers to follow, but continuing to stretch yourself thin won’t help you, your students, your family, or your co-workers. It’s time to let go of the guilt! Of course, you can’t avoid every obligation, but you can learn to pick and choose the ones that really matter. If a flat-out “no” feels too harsh, try something like, “I can’t help right now, but please ask me next time you need a hand.”