Searching for Work/Life Balance
Do you remember when people used to talk about how being a teacher was such a cushy job? Teachers have the summer off and only work until 3:30 pm. Perfect for anyone searching for work/life balance.
Those ideas are from a lifetime ago. Teachers manage more than the lessons they teach. There is a teacher shortage in the U.S. and those that stay are burning out quickly. As an educational consultant, I work in schools where teachers need more time to do all the things required. From planning lessons to attending faculty meetings, and planning field trips to preparing for observations, and don’t forget the state test that students must be ready for. Teachers regularly ask “when do I get to teach?” When you discuss ways to improve instruction, they wearily ask about what program you’re bringing…what is the “one more thing you want me to do?” Educators are heavy with program overload.
Let me introduce you to the organization that’s been addressing the question of how to make life as an educator a bit more manageable. After a rewarding career as a teacher in Texas, I moved to Florida looking for a change of pace, something a bit more relaxing. I wasn’t bailing out of the post-covid classroom, but I was honestly tired of working the long hours required for a job well done. ProActive Ed. is the solution for the teacher who comes in early and leaves way after contract hours are over and even works on the weekends. The teacher who takes the cart loaded with composition books and papers home on the off chance that they have the time to grade them.
I was fortunate when ProActive Ed founder, A.T. Nelson, a former NASA engineer turned high school math teacher and administrator, introduced me to his professional life’s passion. In the last fifteen years he developed and implemented a system for educators, challenged with effectively planning, assessing, and delivering rich content, to maintain a healthy home life. Data-Driven Instructional Cycles® offer balanced effective teaching and learning systems that allow students to excel and teachers to create work/life balance.
Work/Life Balance, Teacher Pay, and Accountability
While we won’t be adding time to the clock, we have to develop ways to be more efficient and effective with the time that we do have. The truth is, that to be effective, educators need a work/life balance that keeps them sane and fulfilled at work. In PDinaPOD episode 1: Time to Teach, A.T. shares a deep understanding of what teachers need most – Time. Refreshingly, A.T. identifies the way for schools to “move from being a reactive school to a proactive school [is] to really set up structures and systems within the school day”.
Regarding teacher pay, A.T. acknowledges, “the workload when compared to workloads in other professions…and the pay in other professions is putting teachers in a place where they have to make a choice for their life...” Most teachers who entered the profession even ten years ago did so to help students achieve, not to get rich or because they thought the job would be easy.
Finally, the emphasis on accountability implies that teachers have control over students’ performance, but A.T. asserts that teachers “have the power to influence student performance, but they do not have the power to control it.” Teachers are creative and find ways to juggle their many responsibilities, but wouldn’t it be a more fulfilling and rewarding profession if they could juggle less and teach more?
ProActive Ed is committed to implementing systems that support teaching and learning for the benefit of teachers and students in schools across the country. As we work toward that goal, this blog will be dedicated to documenting the experiences of teachers, students, and administrators committed to this work and bringing nuggets of wisdom for other teachers and administrators to do the same in their schools.
Contributed by Regina M. Argueta-Misra, Educational Consultant for ProActive Ed.