Teacher Workload (1)

In recent years, teacher workload, teacher well-being have become topical issues and in many countries, there are no easy solutions to the issues raised. I feel as teachers, we have to start thinking of our well-being ourselves.

I will give you an example. My week has been emotionally heavy and I can say to you that as of this afternoon, I feel very tired. When I feel this way, I have learnt how to take a step back and try to figure out what is going on around me. I realised a while ago that if I do not do that, it becomes easy to snap at those around just because I am irritable.

You can say it is part of emotional intelligence to be able to name your feelings and not allow it to affect your daily activities. So having done my ‘thinking’, I discovered that it has been a very challenging time at work. There is so much going on, added to the normal workload that teachers have to deal with.

From time to time, I get asked questions about workload issues. I have met teachers from all around the world and do you know that I am yet to see any teacher that is okay with the workload? Being a teacher is hard work. There is so much you have to juggle on a day to day basis. It is not an easy thing to be solely responsible for the learning and care of 20+ children at a time. I don’t know about you, but I have taught for donkey years and I still look forward to closing time when the children bid goodbye! Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to receive them every morning, but I am equally happy to see them out at the end of the day, so that I can get a break.

My point is that the workload is there and despite the best reforms in the world, teachers still manage to do so much. It is the nature of the job. This means that we have to organise ourselves and manage our well-being. You must give your well-being top priority.

For example, do you have ‘down time’ every day? You need it. Commit to having half an hour to one hour of quiet time to just yourself. You need that time to re-calibrate. Set a reasonable time for leaving school each day (and stick to it). Find ways to turn off your teacher mind-set, so that you can relax when you get home. You choose what you want to do in that time. Just ensure that whatever you do, you are relaxed. My daily down time is straight after work when I get home. My family knows that and we all have down time at home. You need it. Think of what relaxes you and give it time.

Another thing you can do to help you manage workload is prioritisation. Learn to prioritise. I find that prioritising helps to manage time well. It also helps you deal with distractions. When you prioritise, you are saying, ‘this thing is important and I choose to focus on it.’ Your ability to focus will help you become more productive and get the best outcomes.

I say you try these two things and let me know how you get on. I love getting responses.

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