In my last post, I wrote about feeling frustrated that some of my students would not do homework unless there was a grade or some payment attached to it. I have been reflecting a lot on work/life balance and recently I made a connection between the two.
My contracted work day is 738am-258pm, but I am usually at work (with many of my colleagues) from 645am-5pm and usually doing work for several more hours at home. I don’t decide when to work or not work based on the pay. I work until the work is done and if I’m doing it right, then what happens between 738am and 258pm is more valuable because of the time spent outside of the contracted school day. This intrinsic motivation to do a good job, even if not paid for it directly, is what I hope for my students to gain.
That being said, I have been struggling lately with finding a healthy work/life balance. Truthfully, this is something I have always struggled with and I don’t ever see myself being a teacher who only works while the students are in the school building. I’m writing this post for my own therapy, to vent, but also in hopes that veteran Type-A Teachers and other workaholics have advice for how to carve out bits of guilt free me time without sacrificing student achievement. I know, in theory, that going for a walk after school instead of analyzing benchmark testing data would make the other hours more productive but I am challenged, in practice, to make the decision that one is more important than the other. If you asked me outright which is most important, I would struggle to pick relationships with others or my health or my career. So why I do I always vote for my career when it comes to how I spend time? I think it’s because that is the one that I get the extrinsic reward for: cash money. When it comes down to how I am going to spend my 9-10pm hour on Sunday evening and the choices are to call a friend, go to sleep or finish grading tests, I always choose grading. Each is important; each needs to be done; grading is my job – grading is what I am paid to do even though I am only technically paid to do it between 738am and 258pm.
Maybe I am not so unlike my students after all. I need to start thinking of relationships and personal health as forms of currency and to develop a mental “budget” for spending. And I may also need to reconsider my expectations for students and their motivations.
** Note: This post originally written on September 28th. Siting in the draft box until today. “Maybe I will get around to polishing it up….” “Yeah right, just hit the publish button already.”