Pop Quiz

Pop Quiz: Balance

Like many this was my first week back to school and like always my life changes.  I go from a laid back relaxed existence where time is not really all that important, to a clock centered world where every moment is filled with some brain absorbing task. Luckily I get to ease into it with a week filled with professional development of varying levels of personal relevance.

About a week ago I was talking to a friend who is an elementary school teacher and he said that he knew that he finally decompressed from the previous year when he forgot what day it was.  I agreed that that was a fine measure of mental relaxation and asked him when that day was. Yesterday, he said.  It was August 15th a little less than two months from his last day with students, and a little more than a week before he started back to school.

I find that many teachers, myself included, share the same work philosophy which is work until it is done.  In general I work in my building 9 hours, and it is only that low because last year I started forcing myself to go home at 4 pm.  About twice a week I work after dinner for 1-2 hours grading, and I prepare for the next week on Saturday for about an hour or so for my main class and then at least 5 hours for my new class.  Now I am not mentioning my 55 hour work week to get praise or pity, but it struck me that during the school year, my job consumes my life and I was wondering how teachers who teach year round and other professionals do it and without the 8 weeks of vacation to rest the brain.

So this leads me to a series of questions:

1) How do you balance work and home life during the school year? (or are you like me who just uses the summer to balance it all out) 

2) If you are a teacher who teaches year round (first of all you are fricking amazing) how do you not burn out after a year or two?

3) If you are not a teacher, but work in an equally demanding job how do you create balance in your life?

Feature image See Saw by Ross Griff.

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Jennifer teaches science in a public school in Pennsylvania. She lives there with her husband and two dogs.


  1. August 29, 2014 at 9:47 am —

    1) Poorly. I spend most of my waking hours devoted to teaching in some fashion. I have tried to force myself to do something frivolous for an hour before bed but it is hard.

    2) I teach year round and I get burned out but I have no choice if I want to get paid. I do regenerate a little in April, July, and October when I take mini weekend trips to conferences.

    I have friends who do not understand why I cannot just go out after work or on the weekends at a moments notice. These friends have jobs that they do not bring home with them. I envy that.

  2. August 31, 2014 at 8:06 pm —

    I do a bad job balancing “life” vs work during the semesters, though I have instituted the Friday night/Saturday morning no work pact with a few of my fellow professors. We knock off and have dinner together, then don’t work until at least Saturday afternoon to make sure we don’t completely lose it. If I worked year round, I’d probably be dead.

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