“Everything seems so important that I can’t say no to my principal. But, I literally can’t do one more thing. There just isn’t enough time in my day. I’m exhausted and stressed out.” That’s what a client told me last week (and it’s only September).
I was working with a teacher who felt like her administrator wasn’t understanding that there simply isn’t an extra second left in her schedule. It’s not a new struggle. We’re all trying our hardest to meet the demands on our time and still give our best to our students. There is simply not enough time in the day to do everything that gets thrown on our plates.
Does it seem like everyone thinks you should help them out or volunteer because you get off work at 3:00? You know the drill… “You’re just a teacher. Working until 3:00 and then going home so early must be nice. You get every holiday and summers off. How hard can it be?!”
It’s insulting. I get it. But instead of getting hopped up over a few thoughtless words or general ignorance, try this.
instructional time (be detailed about what is being taught when)
prep (copies, cutting out, creating resources, research, looking for resources, clean-up, set-up…)
grading papers and recording grades
phone calls and email
newsletters to families or other whole class communication
time spent planning
assigned duties other than teaching - playground, lunchroom, clubs…
lunch (be specific about how much of that time is taking kids to lunch and getting settled and how much is actual time for you to eat)
add in your home life - family, social life + free time, meals, sleep… include the time you spend at home working.
Take a picture of it with your phone and keep it handy. Print 2 paper copies. Place one in your teacher bag. This last one will seem odd, but stay with me here. Take the last one and put it in a clear plastic name tag holder and attach it to your school keys. This way, you’ll have it ready when anyone catches you in the lunch room, hallway…
The next time someone asks you to do one more thing, get super excited about their idea. Then, grab your handy dandy chart and lay it out. Say, “Ok, help me out here. I have to make some hard decisions. Take a look at my week and tell me… what should I get rid of to make room for that in my schedule?”
The key is to stay positive and supportive of their ideas, but realistic and protective of your needs for work time and personal time. If what they are proposing is really important, your administrator will help you figure out what to let go of in your school day so you can add it in. If not, your answer is, “Let me know when you figure out what I should drop so I can add that in.”
NOTE: If you are asked to use less time for a subject to fit something else in, then ask what part of the curriculum they want you to skip or teach in less depth. Your time in finite.
I’m asking you to be kind and respectful but insistent about working together to figure out how you can reasonably meet their demands without compromising the quality of your work or your personal life.
Give it a try and let me know how it goes.
P.S. Remember, you both need and deserve daily personal time outside of work.