As I’m sitting to write this episode, I’m in an approximately six square feet space in the cab of our pick up truck pulling our camper on our way home from our Christmas vacation with three boys and our dog. I’m reflecting on what was by far our best camper-trip yet as it was at the beginning of winter and was full of sunshine which we Midwesterners aren’t used to in December.
It was a great refresh.
But you know what I thought about quite a bit? Work.
Not in a way that was stifling to my or our enjoying the trip. Not at all. We just had a lot of relaxation time. And that meant my mind was able to wonder and think and plan.
And it reminded me of how I was with my classroom when on a break or vacation.
When I was able to step back from it, I was able to think about it in a clearer way. I was able to work on my classroom rather than in my classroom.
Today I’m asking you the question, in a very non-rhetorical way, do you really want a job you don’t have to take home, because taking too much work home is unsustainable, and leads to burn out quickly. But I’d like to offer some points to ponder in answering this question so we’re able to shift how we think about the work we take home and even value it.
After reading this information you’ll have a much more sustainable understanding of what work to take home and how that work can fuel your sustainability overall, leaving you with a new found love for your evenings, weekends, and long holiday breaks.
Because taking work home everyday or weekend is unsustainable, but work that fuels your sustainability when you have the opportunity to work at home can help keep you in the classroom while present at home longer.
Let’s get to it.
If your answer to this question is a firm yes, then stop. Stop taking work home.
Now you might be thinking that’s impossible, in that you can’t possibly get everything done in order to maintain your effectiveness in the classroom if you don’t bring work home. In this case it would make sense to advise teachers to then make changes to their day and workload so you don’t have to bring work home, but I’m flipping that advice a bit here.
Make your first move the commitment to not bring work home. Period.
What this will do is force you to make the most of and get creative with how you use your time during the day, including time in the classroom.
I’m not going to lie, this is a big commitment, especially if you’re someone who brings home work on the regular, but if it’s a matter of saving a relationship, your mental or physical health, or rejuvenating your passion for teaching, then it’s absolutely worth it.
As far as how to go about doing this, other than to just go cold turkey, be sure to visit episode 1 of this podcast on knowing your why and how it will allow you to eliminate what doesn’t matter.
The second point to ponder I have for you is that although the idea of having a job you don’t have to take work home for is enticing, it’s not what you truly want.
Here’s what I mean.
Sure, you don’t want to bring home hours of work and piles of papers to grade each week out of necessity, but that just means you need to change the kind of work you bring home, because your job means something, you’ll always have something to think about or improve upon. THAT’S the work you should be taking home.
Not having work to bring home means you’re not a leader, that you’re not in charge and that you don’t have autonomy.
You want all of those things for your classroom.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you should bring piles of work home every day. Not at all - that’s where the next, and final point to ponder comes in.
Before we get there, I want to make one last clarification on this “you really don’t want a job you don’t take work home for.”
Because your job as an educator means A LOT - to your colleagues, your students, parents, and the community and world as a whole. It has so much impact. You are a leader in your own classroom. You’ll always have some part of you that is about your work as a teacher, that’s what makes you so great at it, and probably meant for it. Which finally leads me to my final point.
Whether or not you’ve taken my advice so far, for instance in deciding to cold turkey, not take work home anymore, this point will be one to definitely take to heart.
Instead of bringing home the piles of paper or the lesson plans to make, all the things that constitute working IN your classroom, bring home tasks that constitute working ON your classroom.
This means two huge things.
The big takeaway here being that the work you bring home is the kind that allows you to work ON your classroom, not just IN it.
Which is a fantastic segway to an invitation I have for you.
This Saturday, January 15, at 10am ET, please join me for our first ever Sustainable Teacher Conference!! It will be a one-day, online conference and a chance to focus on not only your why, like we talked about last week, and what work you’re bringing home like in this episode, but a chance to revisit your most important spinning plates so that you generate spin for all your plates.
It’s called the Sustainable Teacher for a reason… we’ll have multiple sessions offered by yours truly that help you get the ultimate reset you need and take important steps toward making 2022 your most sustainable year yet.
And guess what, it’s only $10 to join us. Yep, you heard me! So head to this link to get registered today, and invite all your teacher-friends too, and I’ll see you there.
And I’ll see you here, same time, same place, next week. Bye for now.