5 work-life balance tips for new teachers

A teacher looks at her tablet in a busy school corridor

The first year in teaching can be many things. Exciting. Challenging. Surprising. Satisfying. Above all, it’s always engaging.

In few other jobs are you so energised by the role every day. Being the best for your students and school means everything.

But to be the best teacher, and enjoy the rewards, it’s important to strike the perfect work-life balance. Taking care of yourself takes care of business.

Here are 5 steps new teachers can take towards finding a better work-life balance.

Always clock out

Teaching is a vocation built on dedication and passion. It’s also a job. You’re supposed to clock out when your shift ends. So, while aspects such as exam marking are taken home, set a time to stop.

Clocking out is the moment to reflect on your day with five minutes of mindful mediation. Keep your thoughts in a journal.

Over time these notes will chart your professional progress. They will also show how you’re balancing work and life priorities. And pinpointing where to tip a little one way or the other.

Remember: there will never be enough time in the day. And that’s okay.

When you realise not all of the tasks will ever be complete, you can let go. Your stress levels fall. You can genuinely enjoy your downtime.

Use time wisely

As a new starter you have extra time for planning, preparation and assessment. Make the most of this space away from frontline action. Everything you put into your PPA is rewarded by stress-free time later.

Categorise the most important tasks for your daily and weekly plans.

Use every trick in the book to help you. Many of these come in the form of free online resources and toolkits.

Enjoy the breaks

Holidays are well earned. Often, however, NQTs see them as an opportunity to cram added prep in for lessons. And they can be. But we shouldn’t be tempted into completing school work for the entirety of a break.

Holidays are perfect for recharging. Spend quality time with friends. Travel and expand horizons. Eat. Drink. Be happy.

Above all, use your break for you. Do whatever feels good. When you return to school feeling relaxed and rejuvenated, you’ll reap the rewards. So, too, will your students.

Learn from the best

Often the best is you. It’s natural to experience strange situations in your first year at school. Trust in yourself and your teacher training. Try not to second-guess every decision.

You have the skills needed to make the best possible choices.

If you’re still not sure how to proceed, ask for guidance. Everyone from head teachers to admin staff are there for each other.

Mentorship isn’t always formal. Allow yourself time to talk shop during your social hours too: school life isn’t off-limits entirely. After all, achieving an enjoyable work-life balance is having one foot on either side of the seesaw at the same time.

Professional support that’s both formal on-the-job learning and informal in-the-pub-or-park chatting makes for a balanced, less stressful, first-year experience.

Look after yourself

The passion you have for your subject inspires you and motivates your students. It also re-energises you every day. It’s a two-way exchange. However, as the old adage says: healthy body, healthy mind.

So exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and enjoy healthy eating. All of these boost physical fitness and mental health.

Finally, look after your health by not overdoing it during your first year. When it comes to helping students achieve academic success, a healthy and happy teacher is far more beneficial than finished work schedules.

Looking for more stress-busting tips for teachers? Check out the Grappling with work-life balance resource pack on the Education Support website.

What are your favourite ways to achieve the perfect work-life balance as a teacher? Share your ideas and stories with 100s of other new teachers on Teacheroo.

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