Achieving a healthy teacher work-life balance is a huge challenge. As a teacher, you can be many things, including instructor, caregiver, leader, and even a parent, and these roles can conflict in the long run. Some busy educators also do teachers’ work on weekends. Thus, balancing your social life with your various roles is necessary for optimal functionality.
A survey carried out by RAND and funded by the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers further reveals job burnout levels in the education sector, with one in four teachers considering quitting their job by the end of the 2021 school year. Burnout also negatively impacts educators’ professional outlook and overall disposition. Thankfully, this article will help you cultivate a healthy work-life balance as a teacher.
What Is Work-Life Balance?
Work-life balance refers to the equilibrium between one’s career and personal life without either one infringing on the success of the other. To many who don’t believe a perfect balance of 50/50 is attainable in today’s world, it could also mean creating a synergy or harmony between your professional obligations and personal responsibilities.
What Does It Mean to Have Work-Life Balance?
Having a work-life balance means managing all activities in your life to ensure maximum productivity and happiness. Moreover, there are different facets of an individual’s life, including the physical, emotional, and mental aspects. Maintaining wellness in these areas while ensuring professional development means having a work-life balance.
Why Is Work-Life Balance Important for Teachers?
Work-life balance is essential for teachers because they are the primary facilitators of high-quality education. Teachers undergo different levels of stress and pressure from students, parents, employers, family, and even society. All these contribute to the high level of teacher burnout and poor educational service delivery. To help change that, every teacher needs to create a work-life balance.
Teacher Job Responsibilities
Teachers’ primary job responsibilities include lesson planning, grading papers, classroom observations, and preparing students for life after school. When necessary, they also substitute as caregivers and maintain a good communication link with parents or guardians. However, these responsibilities could differ based on the form of education.
Preparing Lesson Plans
Teachers prepare classroom lesson plans and subject-specific curriculums for each academic session. They also present these lessons to students, provide accessible materials, and implement other educational activities and events for better results. Moreover, lesson plans serve as a learning compass for students at school and at home.
Communicating With Parents, Guardians, and School Staff
Effective communication is an invaluable job responsibility of teachers. A teaching career requires a lot of communication, listening, and talking, not only with students but with the entire school community. So, part of your duty as a teacher is to practice open and respectful communication with parents, guardians, co-workers, and other school staff.
Observing Classroom Activities
This job responsibility entails paying attention to the nooks and crannies of your classroom. It involves monitoring and managing students’ behavior and performance, keeping a record of daily attendance and classroom incidents, and implementing policies for accountability. You are also responsible for creating a behavioral classroom adjustment plan when necessary.
Assessing Students’ Performance
Teachers are responsible for regularly measuring students’ academic progress, providing reports and recommendations, and following through until students achieve the desired results. You can also send these reports to parents and guardians, school management, and, on rare occasions, students themselves, ensuring that everyone partakes in the assessment procedures.
Attending Meetings and Conferences
Attending education-related meetings and conferences is part of the modern-day school policies for teachers. Plus, meetings are an opportunity to liaise with fellow teachers and education leaders inside and outside of your working environment. This contributes to your professional development, which is also part of your responsibilities.
How Many Hours Do Teachers Work?
Teachers work an average of 42.2 hours per week, according to a 2019 analysis of the American Time Use Survey, published by the Brookings Institution. This means that American teachers work a little more than the traditional 40-hour work week.
There is a shortage of education staff, propelling available teachers to work extra hours to meet deadlines and cover other subjects. Sadly, this may continue until the government accelerates its plans to tackle the nationwide teacher shortage.
Do Teachers Work on Weekends?
Yes, teachers often work on weekends, especially if it’s a part-time schedule, an adult education setting, or an online form of education. It could be a regular appointment on their calendar or a one-off act to cover the curriculum. For regular education, teachers might use weekends to plan for the upcoming week or catch up on a project.
How to Achieve Work-Life Balance as a Teacher
- Take breaks. Working around the clock without breaks won’t make you a better teacher. Instead, it’ll increase burnout and exhaustion, causing you to struggle with work and other areas of your life. A 20-minute uninterrupted break from work could help you relax and refresh your mind.
- Make feasible plans. As you prepare lesson plans, learn to curate a personal list of your activities. It could be daily or weekly, but the main idea is to have an overview of your routine. In doing so, you get to identify the most important things, eliminate nonessential tasks, and learn how to build time management skills.
- Practice your hobbies. Whether or not you are passionate about your career, it is important to have interests and hobbies outside of work. Engaging in a hobby will help you relieve work stress and add color to your life. It could be sports, crafts, movies, gardening, road trips, or anything that takes your mind off work for a few hours.
- Embrace technology. Technology makes life easier. Fortunately, today’s education sector is diversified, with different learning options. Instead of manually assessing students, you can utilize EdTech tools for classroom activities. You will also be able to focus on other essential tasks while using EdTech tools to complete assessments.
- Learn to delegate. Most of the time, cultivating work-life balance as a teacher will require allowing others, at work and at home, to help you out. You can also outsource some responsibilities if you can afford to. However, you must identify the abilities of your helpers to ensure they don’t disrupt things and inadvertently increase your workload.
Education Companies With the Best Work-Life Balance
Despite the increase in teacher burnout, there are many top companies that hire teachers. Some education companies, however, are better promoters of the well-being of teachers than others. You’ll find the details of these companies below.
- Headquarters: Boston, Massachusetts
- Locations: US, Singapore, China, India, Dubai, Australia, England, Brazil, Mexico
Cengage Group is a global elearning education company with over 4,500 employees who enjoy a positive work-life balance. The company provides access to paid time off, parental leave, wellness initiatives, flexible work hours, remote work, and other social activities. Overall, the working conditions are conducive to a healthy work-life balance, and the company utilizes technology for most of its operations.
- Headquarters: San Mateo, California
- Locations: California, New Jersey, New York, Arizona, Texas
Swing Education is an education technology company that connects high-quality substitute teachers with schools that need them to alleviate the US teacher shortage. It also designs educational software solutions to improve online learning. Employees enjoy flexible schedules, remote work, autonomy, and periodic bonuses.
- Headquarters: Boston, Massachusetts
- Locations: Boston, San Francisco
Panorama Education is a private remote company passionate about improving the traditional school system by analyzing education data and providing teacher training to schools across the US. It prioritizes work-life balance by offering health and wellness programs, vision and dental insurance, and life insurance. Employees also enjoy paid holidays, paternity or maternity leave, flexible work hours, and professional development opportunities.
- Headquarters: Portland, Oregon
- Locations: Minnesota, Massachusetts, Illinois, Indiana, and other states
Kindercare Education is the largest early childhood education provider in the US, dedicated to establishing a solid academic foundation for young school children. The company supports a positive work-life balance by providing its teachers with health insurance, paid holidays, employee assistance programs, childcare support, and educational reimbursement.
- Headquarters: New York, New York, USA
- Locations: Chicago (IL), Columbus (OH), Irvine (CA), London (United Kingdom), and Greater Noida (India)
McGraw Hill integrates technology with traditional publishing to improve teaching and learning. They also provide customized educational materials, software solutions, and other services for different levels of education. McGraw Hill offers work-life balance by providing paid holidays, health insurance, family support, 401(k), commuter benefits, and employee assistance programs.
Is Work-Life Balance Possible for Teachers?
Yes, work-life balance is possible for teachers. Juggling your career and personal life may seem complicated, but it’s not impossible. While it is important to look for companies that take teacher self-care and work-life balance seriously, the onus lies on you to create the work-life balance you desire.
Moreover, following the tips above will greatly help you learn how to manage your personal life, family life, and job responsibilities. If you work six days a week and still do teacher work on weekends, you should reevaluate your schedule so that you can fit in family time and personal time. Otherwise, you risk burnout.
Teacher Work-Life Balance FAQ
Yes, teachers can work from home. Like every other industry, since the coronavirus outbreak, the education sector has embraced remote learning, causing many teachers to work from home and manage virtual classrooms. There are also other regular work-from-home careers for teachers, such as being an online tutor, adult educator, student mentor, or educational consultant.
A bad work-life balance is working for an extended period with no regard for life outside of work or spending too much time on your personal life at the risk of losing your source of livelihood. In other words, an unhealthy work-life balance is when one part of your life disrupts the other.
The common signs of a poor work-life balance include neglecting personal life and family, lack of sleep, poor eating habits, mental distress, an awkward social life, and decreased functionality. However, the indicators of a poor work-life balance vary by individual and depend on one’s own unique life circumstances.
The easiest ways to know if a company has a good work-life balance are by reading reviews written by past or current employees, enquiring about the company’s benefits during interviews, or reading comments on the company’s social media platforms. You can also check for real-time employee reviews on Glassdoor, Quora, or Indeed.
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