If you’re a teacher, you will have undoubtedly been told how lucky you are to finish at 3pm every day and have 13 weeks off each year. You will also have experienced the drain of spending evenings and weekends marking and writing up lesson plans, not to mention the after-school meetings and clubs you’ve arranged – oh, and the countless days you’ve spent in school training.
Most people don’t appreciate just how much work teachers put in outside of school hours, and it’s not like it’s a walk in the park during school time either! You’re on your feet all day, cope with the needs of thirty children and your breaks and lunch hours are never very relaxing…
Teaching is an incredibly important and highly rewarding profession, but there is a lot of pressure put upon staff to commit to working in excess of forty-five hours a week. Of course, working outside of school hours will always be a guaranteed part of the job, but are you making sure you put time aside for your wellbeing too?
Some teachers may scoff at the very concept of a work/life balance, but it is essential to give your body and mind some time to recuperate in such a highly demanding job. With teaching there is always more you could be doing, always more time you could be giving to your students, but there is a limit if it comes at the cost of your health. If you burn out and end up having to take time off sick, your students are ultimately worse off than if you had just given yourself a break.
Think of how enthusiastic and positive you feel about teaching when you’re having a good week. Think of how the students react to you when they can palpably feel your passion for learning. Also think of how easy it is to tell if your students have not had enough sleep or are not feeling their best. You not only have a duty to yourself to make sure you’re feeling healthy enough to teach, but you also have a duty to your students.
Studies suggest the majority of people require 7-8 hours sleep a night. You also need roughly 1.9 litres of water a day, at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week and a well-balanced diet consisting of grains, vegetables, proteins and minerals. No job, not matter how important it is, should stop you from getting that.
So next time someone suggests teaching is an easy job, tell them straight: it is actually a difficult and demanding job and can take a lot out of you, but it’s also incredibly gratifying. Remember: if you’re either a bundle of energy or completely drained by the end of the school day, you’re not teaching right.
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