Well-being and work/life balance

I have been inspired to blog after reading a post on well-being and work-load by @teachertoolkit.

I came late into teaching but, as someone who has worked from age 16 in a variety of jobs, I’ve always had an ingrained work ethic.

My previous jobs have included :

1) working for insurance companies (mind numbing- those of you who have read my blog whoiamandwhatido will know that line of work ended when I had to be woken by phone after falling asleep at my desk following an all-nighter at a Black Sabbath concert!!!)
2) being a dental assistant – I did try to qualify as a dental nurse but failed to recognise a variety of torture tools under exam conditions!! I actually quite liked extractions (other people’s !) and mixing mercury and powder together into silver amalgam but not enough to carry on earning a pittance ! Anyway my lovely dentist retired!
3) this was followed by a period in the civil service at Min of Ag Fish and Food (cheap beef, hunky vets) and as a clerical officer with DHSS( you had to pass an exam ffs) but this was never my raison d’etre.

At this point I became pregnant with my son and left vowing I would never,ever, ever do another boring job again. You might be wondering what this has to do with the title of my blog but I am coming to it …… Despite never wanting to teach I did embark upon a degree course whilst caring for a young baby and later a PGCE when my son was in his first year at school; it was a hard slog, but I was spurred on because I was doing something meaningful, something I knew I already loved.

Over the years, with some tremendous highs and very dispiriting lows, I have never forgotten that hopeless feeling of having a string of unmotivating jobs which didn’t stretch or challenge or inspire. Jobs which literally sent me to sleep !!

As a teacher I have always worked hard and I put in long hours now as a manager, but I have always been buoyed up by excitement and enthusiasm for children and for teaching and learning. In my present post I support children with SEN and extreme behavioural needs which can be challenging and exhausting but still motivates me to get up early every morning. Well-being and work-load have always been big issues but I have mostly tried to find that balance between leisure and endeavour. I have yet to turn my face towards the wall of impending retirement; I still feel I have more to contribute.

However, I do see that the continual turning of the wheel that is education is causing collateral damage to butterflies that fall under its yoke and are crushed, namely colleagues with young families they struggle to find time for and those who long to retire but still have mortgages to pay. Goal posts are relentlessly being moved and expectations are rising; whatever we do is never good enough and the pressure is always on.

So, would I prefer to be back in a dead- end job or soldier on in my chosen profession, tiring though it can be? I think that’s a no- brainer for me; I’ve struggled and striven to be where I am now and I’ve no regrets. I think as teachers we are often our own worst enemies and we need to decide whether the long hours we put in are as productive as we think; are we honing our time management skills sufficiently? Is the end product directly linked to our efforts?

There are no easy answers but I do feel we need to love ourselves more and give ourselves time for much-needed R and R; educating our future generations demands that we do so if we are to give them our best.

7 thoughts on “Well-being and work/life balance

  1. Jill Berry says:

    Thanks for this – and I’m with you on the ‘loving ourselves more’ idea. Sometimes we’re too hard on ourselves and too quick to beat ourselves up. It is a challenge to find a balance we’re happy with but we just need to keep striving for this. Avoid perfectionism. Know when we need/deserve a rest, and how and when to recharge and refresh so that we have the energy to do the job to the standard we consider acceptable.

  2. Pingback: Education Panorama (July ’14) by @TeacherToolkit | @TeacherToolkit

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