As Tim and I tour around and visit the RETTA members in our schools, there seems to be a common theme we are coming across. This theme can be summed up in a few words: workload, work/life balance, burnout, stress.
I don’t need to get into all the reasons why, but we all know the job can be demanding and take its toll on teachers. Below are a few of my thoughts that have occured to me over the last several months of listening to teachers as well as my own years of teaching experience. These are just ideas but please consider them:
- Keep your work email separate from your personal email. It’s extremely difficult to keep a work/home balance when these crossover. (You really shouldn’t be using your work email for personal matters anyway.)
- Don’t have your work emails sent to your phone. You are under no professional obligation to answer work-related emails on your personal time. That’s your time – time to shut work off for a few hours. If someone from the school absolutely needs to get ahold of you, they will call. (Not to mention that you don’t want sensitive information on your personal phone in case your device is lost.)
- If you feel the need to check your work emails in the evening, set a specific time to do it. For me, when I was in the classroom I made a point of not checking my work emails in the evening. That said, I did login to my email every Sunday evening so that I wouldn’t have any surprises Monday morning. I’m not saying this one is a good idea for everyone – it did cause some sleepless Sunday nights – but often it put my mind at ease.
- Take your personal days. This is a hard-fought-for benefit that we all have earned. Take the days, take care of yourself. No explanation needed.
- If you aren’t feeling well enough to work, don’t. Plain and simple, you aren’t doing anyone, you or your students, any favours by showing up to work while sick. I know that preparing for a sub is difficult. As a music specialist, believe me, I get it. However, the students will survive your absence. I’m sure most of you already have a “sub binder” full of activities. Use it, and trust our substitute members.
- Take your duty-free lunch hour. You know you need that time to recharge, and this is another one of those hard-fought-for benefits that you are entitled to. You work long enough hours, take your lunch break. Sit with your colleagues, sit alone in your quiet room, go for a walk around the block, whatever you need to do. It will make you a better teacher.
- Check out the MTS Balance program. There is great information on the website as well as in their publication that is sent to you regularly. It’s full of strategies for self-care, vocal hygiene, healthy recipes, and general things to make your home and work life more pleasurable.
Remember, we are here at the RETTA office for you. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to call us.