Session 44 – Work/life balance: is it really possible?

Thursday 5th May 2011

Session Title:

What are you doing here? Work/life balance: is it really possible?

Summary of Discussion:

Realise that you are never going to find the perfect google image

The vote for this UKEDCHAT went right down to the wire with only a couple of votes in it at the very last minute. A few main themes emerged over the hour and these included:

–    The inherent and relentless challenge to work/life balance that results from a career in teaching – although it was pointed out that teaching is by no means unique in this respect.
–    Strategies that people employ to address these challenges.
–    Discussion about individual, role-related, sector related and school-related circumstances.

There was a recognition that teaching is a job that is unforgiving in that the work is never done, there are constantly new challenges and that, because people have children at the heart of their work, it is difficult/impossible to compromise on effort and effectiveness. Some contributors claimed that they were able to confine the bulk of their work to ‘office’ hours and take a minimal amount home with them, whereas, at the other end of the spectrum there were many claims of wall-to-wall workload allowing little time for even lunch breaks or time out in evenings and weekends (at least during term time). There was also some recognition that the pressures of term time workload were somewhat mitigated by generous holiday provision.

There were other differences in the experiences of contributors such as their role in school with a number of tweets not surprisingly indicating significant increases in challenge to work/life balance when taking on further responsibilities and particularly senior leadership. There also appeared to be differences between how schools and individuals dealt with the challenges. Some schools/SLTs made generous provision to ensure staff had a decent WLB, others not.

Contributors also recognised the importance of having a hobby or activity allowing for ‘head-space’ and time out from the hurly-burly. There was real diversity here from creative activities such as amateur dramatics to sporting endeavours from running to discuss and hammer throwing.

Parents amongst the ukedchatters recognised the particular challenge of balancing the needs of one’s own offspring against the children in school.

There was also a brief reference to the way in which technology allows for work to more easily encroach into home lives through smartphones etc.

It was a fast-paced session involving a high number of contributions and a tweet-count of 820. Interesting that so many people chose to engage in this discussion (essentially about work) for an hour in the evening.

Notable Tweets from Discussion:

@ICTmagic: @dughall Teaching is a life style, not just a profession. Look at all of us talking about teaching in our spare time. #ukedchat
@mattharding007 A good WLB cannot go with good teaching. Impossible. That’s why weneed holidays! Maybe we should be sharing ways to save time?
@freedman69 Teaching is intense during term time, with the opportunity for long hols.Pointless comparing it to a standard 9-5 #ukedchat
@atklteac  #ukedchat Me & OH set up a joint night off p/week as our work loads meant we never spent quality time together.
@garyavery I try to work smart during the week. Some lessons marking generated,some not. Try to keep to 3 marked pieces a day max #ukedchat
@jackieschneider  #ukedchat – sorry to sound harsh but we have an incredibly privileged job.Lots of parents trapped in tedious, unsatisfying low-paid jobs
@chezallen Twitter doesn’t help the WLB, clearly, but it DOES make teaching more fun, cos it helps me find things to make teaching relevant #ukedchat
@hern96 Being able to afford yourself quality time to think clearly about what yourpriorities are is absolutely key #ukedchat
@mattharding007: Hard to say ‘no’ to work as it doesn’t affect profits or targets – just children. Who are too important to treat halfheartedly…#ukedchat
@Educationchat: A problem with teaching is it’s neverending. Never finished. Never on top of things. So can always keep going#ukedchat
@hern96 WLB is not about timeframes or leaving early, it’s about knowing exactly what your priority is right now and feeling good about it #ukedchat
@bellaale: important to have a “cut-off point”… and then stick to it!#ukedchat
@mattharding07 Good teacher, gets promoted, workload increases outside of classroom, plans less, lessons not as good, WLB out of window, stress. #ukedchat
@MattFothergill: #ukedchat walk through any town and play spot the teacher’s house, it’s the one with the longest grass! Sundays, what are they?
@hern96 At recent SLT planning day looking at school’s priorities, following brainstorming we came up with concept of a “To Don’t” list #ukedchat

@rashush2: remember you with your head in gear are a better resource than that worksheet you were going to write #ukedchat

@trees2066: The best-placed people to teach children about life, have lives themselves… #ukedchat

Tweet of the Week:

@rashush2: realise that you are never going to find the perfect google image #ukedchat

Useful WebLinks Highlighted:

Gove’s induction plan fails to excite

About Your Host:

I am Dughall McCormick and at the time of writing am E-Learning Consultant for Kirklees LA in West Yorkshire.

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About UKEdChat Editorial 3188 Articles
The Editorial Account of UKEdChat, managed by editor-in-chief Colin Hill, with support from Martin Burrett from the UKEd Magazine. Pedagogy, Resources, Community.

1 Comment

  1. Sorry I missed the chat. Always a challenge to balance work / life balance. This year I hope to get more balance in my life. Trouble is it is so easy to get into bad habits. I liked the idea of us sharing ideas to help save time. H

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