Work-life balance: can it exist for teachers?

With the October half-term fast approaching I’ve begun to think about my plans for the break. I’ve already resigned myself to the fact there won’t be much time for relaxing but, more importantly for me, there will be lots of time spent with my family: I’ve already got plans for a family holiday, my dad’s 60th birthday celebrations not to mention helping my brother move house. What do my plans for my half-term not include? School work. So am I wrong to not want to do school work in my holidays? Some of you will probably think I’m naïve to think I will be able to get away without doing anything. Others would feel guilty for not working – but why should we?

A poll I saw recently on Sec-Ed stated that almost 50% of respondents worked between 61 and 70 hours per week with a worrying 18% saying they worked over 71 hours a week. That’s 10 hours a day, 7 days a week! How can we expect teachers to sustain this level of work for 7 weeks in a row as well as delivering fun, engaging, exciting lesson all day?!

As a Senior Leader I want teachers to be focused on what goes on in their classrooms, for them to spend their quality time planning lessons that are personalised for their classes – this is what is really going to make a difference for our students. My next blog on ‘Who are we doing it for?’ looks at what we can do to reduce teacher workload to prevent staff working these ridiculously long hours. I want staff to spend their quality time with their families, doing things for themselves like playing sport or going to the cinema. Teachers should not feel guilty during their holidays for not working, in fact we should be encouraging them to take time out, to relax so that when they come back they are ready to hit the ground running feeling refreshed and excited to start the new term.

I truly believe happy teachers = happy students which in turn means a happy school. We need to look after the wellbeing of our staff just as much as our students. Teaching is not a job it is a life choice and we should be grateful of teachers’ hard work and allow them to enjoy their precious holidays.

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