By Michael Rosenberg, Teacher, Stratford School
There are few professions outside of teaching that can empathize with the struggle of being an educator. As a teacher, our days in the classroom can be a physical and mental roller coaster. Then at day’s end, stacks of papers await our pen and stickers, and Bay Area traffic awaits our draining commute home. Facing these issues, the recent addition of a child, and a move far from my campus have increased my need to find balance. However, wrestling with a reasonable balance of work and personal life has been a struggle for most of my career.
Knowing that I had to restructure my life to fit my new struggles, I decided to reevaluate my work and personal life balance. I began this process by first mapping my day which included commute time to and from work, prep-time, and hours spent at home. By experimenting with my commute to work, I found that leaving fifteen minutes earlier allowed me to avoid most of the traffic. This allowed me to get to work thirty minutes earlier. Then I began to be more efficient with prep-times-grading as many papers as possible. From that, I noticed that there were opportunities to cut back on some excessive homework writing assignments. I shifted those into more creative visuals that became more effective at reinforcing concepts and look better on the walls. This sped up grading and marking papers, as the students were retaining more and I was not as buried. Prioritizing was my next task, setting a plan to tackling the more important/time sensitive tasks first. Finally, I set a time limit. I work until a set time. Once that time is up, I go home, and I take nothing with me.
Mapping my schedule, readjusting my commute, prioritizing, and setting time limits has greatly improved my work/life balance. While it’s not a perfect system, it has worked well this year for me.