Education Opinion

Achieving Work-Life Balance

By Amanda Austin Becker — September 19, 2018 2 min read
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Hi Lisa,

Thanks for your advice on the morning meeting ritual to build community in the classroom. In a secondary setting, I think this could translate well into a “bell work” format. As the students enter the classroom they could begin working on a reflective writing prompt. Following the writing exercise, the students could share their thoughts in group conversation. I look forward to beginning many of of my classes fostering reflection and conversation as a way to build community.

Unfortunately, I haven’t had time for much reflective writing or classroom discussion lately. We are coming to the end of a unit in which the students are learning analytical writing skills. I have been using all available class time to try to prepare my students for a common formative assessment that they will be taking along with all the other students in the Sophomore class. This means I have been reading A LOT of student writing. I have 178 students and I find that I am grading before school, after school, and late into the night at home.

So, with that in mind, I would like to give you a little glimpse into my personal life.

Let’s start with the current state of my car.

It has turned into an embarrassing, unsightly mess.

I have paper plates and bowls with breakfast crumbs lining the floorboard of my car and empty yogurt containers sitting in the cup holders. There are papers and unopened mail abandoned and ignored in the passenger seat. My daughter’s library books are strewn across the backseat, overdue by who knows how long. Dog hair and dust cover the console and dash and various makeup products fill small, unoccupied spaces waiting to be used during my frantic drive to work.

The mess that is my car is a metaphor for the mess that is my life right now. I am exactly five weeks into the school year and I am exhausted. I feel like I have a decent grasp on planning lessons and some aspects of classroom management, but I am finding it challenging to keep up with all the grading, emails, meetings, and issues that arise with teaching 178 students. I had a wonderful, idealistic vision at the beginning of the school year in which I hoped to arrive at school very early in the morning to accomplish the grading, planning, and emails that I was not able to accomplish during my plan time. That lasted for about a week. Now I am dragging myself out of bed, exhausted, and feeling behind the eight ball.

So, Lisa, tell me your secrets to staying on top of grading and keeping track of the individual needs of my students more efficiently. I am seeing so much progress in my students already, which is wonderful, but I want to be successful in the classroom and also have a clean car. How can I be more productive at school to better maintain a healthy work / life balance?

*Photo above by the author.

Show a newbie some love and connect with Amanda on Twitter; her handle is @ateacherstory.

Lisa can be found blogging about her passion to inspire educators to thrive at lisadabbs.com. You can connect with Lisa on Twitter at @teachwithsoul.

The opinions expressed in The New Teacher Chat: Advice, Tips, and Support are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.