Session 44 – Thursday 5th May 2011

Session Title:

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

Summary of Discussion:

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 constant 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 discus and hammer throwing.

Parents amongst the ukedchatters recognized the particular challenge of balancing the needs of ones 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 smart phones 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. Lookat 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 incredibly privileged job.Lots of parents trapped in tedious, unsatisfying lowpaid jobs
@chezallen Twitter doesn’t help the WLB, clearly, but it DOES make teaching morefun, 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 profitsor 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 exactlywhat 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, followingbrainstorming we came up with concept of a “To Don’t” list #ukedchat

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

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

Tweet of the Week:

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

Useful WebLinks Highlighted:

http://pencilandpapertest.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/goves-induction-plan-fails-to-excite/

http://www3.moe.edu.sg/bluesky/tllm.htm

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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