I totally agree with Lauren. You need to schedule time for yourself just as you schedule time for correcting papers, lesson planning, etc... I get out of school at 2:45 and don't pick up my kids until 3:30. I used to stay at school and work, but now that's my running time. Even when I have to work to do, I say to myself, "I have another appointment," and I take that time for me. Also, I have a strict rule that I never do work on Saturdays, so there is one day that is always work-free. I won't even check my email on Saturday because I don't want to feel like I have anything to do.
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The best way to balance your work/life is to balance what you do at school. Give authority and responsibility to students for routine jobs and assignments, give authority to students for making quizzes and tests, and planning their own course of work at school. Let students have an active role in the class and demonstrate that you trust them. Then you will have so much free time, you won't know what to do with it.
Great question Loretta and something I'm sure so many of us struggle with. For me what worked best was minimizing the amount of work I needed to bring home. That meant being very productive with my time at school. Whenever I had a free moment, I was grading, planning, photocopying, prepping, etc. I used my free periods to get these things done. You also need a good homework grading system that won't have you spending hours grading homework each day. There is a good recent thread on that subject on this site. Being organized helps too so that as you teach the same subjects year after year you can build on work that you have already done and assignments/projects you have already created.
Another thing that I make sure to do is have some "me" time set aside each week. An hour to run with my girlfriends or reading a book before bed each night even if just for 5 minutes keeps me a happier person, which in turn makes me a better teacher/tutor/mom/wife.
I work with emotionally disturbed high school students. My biggest problem with balance is holding on to the worry and concern after the day (or year) is over. Experience has given me some distance, but often there are students who "go home" with me. I find that being constructive-- researching, planning, setting up interventions, keeps those students from "coming home with me." Even if it's just a short amount of time, it helps me to know that I've given 110%
Balancing work and home (especially with young children!) is hard. I've taken the same route as Katie. I work after school until 3:30, and that's it. Anything that's not done can wait until tomorrow. I also streamline my grading. Before I sit down with a set of assignments, I decide what exactly I'm looking for and mentally create a rubric. With longer assignments (projects, papers), I do the same thing and use specific rubrics to speed the grading.
I told my students that I'm off-duty on the weekends! That doesn't stop them from emailing me, but they know I won't read them until Monday morning. I do make exceptions when they have a major project, but I generally give myself the weekends to be free of students and school. :)
I also limit myself to two hours of school-related work each night (after the kids are in bed). I use that time to plan and prepare for the next day. Absolutely no grading at home, though!
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