Saturday, March 3, 2012

How Balanced Can a Teacher's Life REALLY Be!?

By Pam Bergman

Balance in life is certainly not my area of expertise!   I tend to either DO things or not do things...there simply is not much middle ground!   In my preschool special education classroom there is certainly plenty to DO; sometimes a bit too much!

I often find myself updating IEP goals on a Saturday morning.
I often find myself brainstorming ways to help a child learn a new skill
while watching TV.
I often find myself creating new activities on Sunday.
I often find myself searching the Internet for new ideas on my weekends.

I can't imagine being a teacher and NOT doing these things!   But I had to draw the line somewhere!   Back in January, when I started seeing people print ONE word as a New Year's Resolution, I knew what mine needed to be. 


The following four items are the school items I felt I needed to change in order to balance my life a bit more.   I've made good progress with the first three and am about to start tackling the fourth.   I've left myself a bit of wiggle room as I will only add that fourth back into the equation if I can keep it semi balanced very quickly!
  1. I've decided I will NOT purchase anything else for the classroom.    This cuts down on TIME spent at stores as well as MONEY spent on school items.   (Yes, I have cheated a few times...but just at the Dollar Store!)  Don't feel sorry for the children, I have many plastic boxes stuffed with items and activities...both at home and school!
  2. I've decided I will NOT come in multiple times on a break to reorganize and get things ready.   (ONE time is acceptable; multiple times is NOT!   Keep in mind we do not have a "typical" school schedule so our breaks are shorter.   Also, keep in mind, this hasn't really been put to the test yet!)
  3. I've decided to limit my at home work to NO more than two hours on Saturday morning.   (Two hours to update IEP goals and write a weekly lesson plan.   The lesson plan will then be revised multiple times throughout the week!   Really, how long do I want to spend on an "outline" of our week?)
  4. And, yes, searching for new ideas on the Internet has had to take a back seat.   I can't seem to find a plan that does not make this a complete "out of control"..."three hour search" for new ideas!   I have plenty of ideas!   I'm just going to have to work with what I have until I can figure out a way to make this a part of my week without tipping the whole darn thing out of balance!
So that's my plan for a bit more balance in my life!   It's not perfect.   It will need to be revised, I'm sure.   It's a start, though.  Many of us are a bit "out of balance" as teachers.  I tend to think this doesn't necessarily make us BETTER teachers...just at greater risk for burn out. 

I know I'm never going to feel like I have complete balance in life.  I know there will be weeks that I will HAVE to spend more time on paperwork.  I'm OK with the fact that I may have to "cheat" a few times on my self-imposed balance "rules"!   But now I have a PLAN for getting back on track! 

Perhaps you need a plan as well?  What would you change in order to feel your life was more balanced?  How much is TOO much?  How much makes you feel like a better teacher, and how much simply makes you feel like your life is out of balance?

Now, wait a year and ask me how it's going!  THAT will be the real test!

Would you like to come follow some of our classroom activities and experiences?  Come walk down that long, long hallway with us at:  Of course, when my life is in balance I write a bit more about our classroom fun! 


  1. Such an important topic, Pam! I always thought it difficult to truly find balance, whether I was teaching, homeschooling, or blogging. The changes you made were great ones, and I think we all need to reevaluate our lives often to keep some sort of balance. I stumbled your post. Deb @

    1. Deb- Definitely! I tend to get carried away with most things and find myself "out of balance" and needing to reevaluate! I think people who are passionate about what they do (no matter what it is) tend to get carried away sometimes!

  2. Boy, do I understand THIS topic! Hence, the name of my blog:

    I am a former special education teacher, and remember all that paperwork! I'm sure that's why now, as a nursery school teacher, I'm still worried about goals and objectives that I'm covering in class. Have I done enough auditory memory? Identifying shapes receptively and expressively? I still think in terms of IEP goals!

    Balance is SO hard! I just put in an order for more things for the classroom. (yes, out of my own pocket.) I'm heading back into the classroom today. (Saturday) I went in yesterday BEFORE my sick day because I'm not "that sick." Interestingly, Facebook, which has reconnected me with so many friends, has also put "work" in my face 24/7! I'm chatting with a friend, and I see a new preschool idea that pops up on my wall. Ooh, Let me check it out. Which leads to this site, which leads to THAT site...

    Now, I suppose I could get OFF the computer... (chuckle)

    I've been trying to take ONE day a week where I do nothing related to school. I guess it's just what happens when you love your job, you spend a LOT of time on it!

    1. Oh my! That sounds familiar! I think it is wonderful that we are able to find so many wonderful ideas on the internet, but it sometimes becomes a never ending stream of good ideas...and soon you've been on the computer for 3 or 4 hours! I also love, love, love my job! (even though there are things I could do without :) but have found that I love it more when I have time for other things as well! :)

  3. I love the word Balance! And I wish I were better at it. GREAT suggestions . . . think about how much money we'd save if we could quit buying . . . I've found that as I refine the word capacity and figure out what mine is, then I have more time to balance the other stuff. And just when I think I'm doing a pretty good job at it, someone will invariably say, "You're always working!" UGH. Thanks for the food for thought, Pam!

    The Corner On Character

    1. Barbara- I actually had to begin this by purposefully avoiding those stores I normally visited for "school stuff"! (you know the ones :) I have so much already I have told myself again and again that I need to use what I already have! (and believe me, it's not easy to tell yourself that...I think I had withdrawal symptoms at first!

  4. Great post!----read AFTER I made two trips out with a sick baby for supplies for Monday, though! Ugh!

    1. :) well, sometimes you just have to! (those are my cheat days)

  5. Loved reading this post. Spoken from the heart. I had to shake my head a couple of times because I am right there with you. Thanks for sharing.

    Have a question for you: I am new to the blogging world and would like to use/share your post on my blog. Is that ok? How do I do that? Thanks

    1. You are welcome to share a LINK to this post on your blog (but please don't simply cut and paste the entire post)! You may want to write a post about your own experience with attempting to balance school/home life- you could start with an introduction that includes the fact that you found that you weren't the only one who struggled with this challenge... with a link here. Of course, you can also grab the Prekandk button to post on your blog as well! I'd love to see your new blog! Come back and post a link to your blog! It's always fun to find others who can relate! :)


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