If you’ve been reading my blog, then you’ll know I’m on holidays. Its summer here in Sydney, Australia. Schools have a 5 week break before returning at the end of January for the commencement of a new school year.
Many people think teachers have a lot of holidays, but these are the only true ones. There is always work to do between the other school terms. There is marking to complete, programming and lesson planning for the new term. We have a break from the students, but the work continues relentlessly. At the end of a school year, however, I send home my class for the last time. All the administration tasks are finalised and done. When I go on holidays, I truly relax, because I don’t have work plans churning around in the back of my mind all the time.
This summer holiday has been great. I feel … re-centred, as if I know myself again. I sometimes feel I lose myself when I’m working. I certainly lose balance. This holiday I’ve been “pottering”. I’ve taken care of my apartment and little balcony garden, cooked, read, been back in touch with friends and put time into my relationship. Simple, but important things.
I have such a sense of peace and balance in my life right now – I feel like I’ve learned something which I’m still trying to put into words.
But the new term is starting to loom now. I’m wondering how I can keep this sense of balance and continue to have time for what is truly important. My job takes so much of me. Most school days I am at work from 7:30am -7:30pm and then I put in a fair few hours on the weekend as well. I come up with numerous plans to reduce my work hours, but there is just so much to do. It’s relentless.
As well as being a class teacher, I’m an assistant principal. This entitles me to additional pay, but no reduction in face to face teaching hours. So as well as meeting the needs of my students and their parents, I’m also charged with supporting and supervising staff, managing curriculum areas, and assisting the principal in managing the school. I have to put out a lot of fires as well – metaphorically speaking.
Teaching and leading are both people oriented roles. You have to put the time into the relationships. You can never be too busy to give your students the attention they need or meet with parents about their concerns. And you can never be too busy for your staff – to be a support, guide and mentor. You also have to be a role model – I have to model exemplary teaching practice if I expect my team to be excellent practitioners. After taking care of all the responsibilities at work each day, I have little time or energy for the rest of my life. That’s how I lose my self.
I love my job, but I’m apprehensive about going back. I don’t want to lose this peace I have right now. I’m determined to have balance this year – I just don’t know if I can do a good job AND have work-life balance.