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Work-Life Balance: A Global Struggle for Teachers?

The Guardian asked a few teachers in the United Kingdom to weigh in on their efforts to achieve work-life balance. It's a good bet that most U.S. teachers can relate to their counterparts across the pond ...

Graeme Thomson, an English teacher in East Renfrew, Scotland, wrote:

There is always something more you could do, and the hardest part is letting go - especially for someone like me, who will gladly spend half an hour looking for one image or font to use in a resource. There is a sense of guilt about taking time for yourself, because you never truly switch off, and as a single man I don't have the incentive of family to justify drawing a line under work. But it's vital that you have a cut-off point. When I am working, I ask myself one question: what is the impact on my pupils or colleagues of doing this piece of work? That helps me prioritise and not get bogged down in work that won't directly benefit my pupils.

Rhian Williams, a primary school teacher in Wales said:

During the week I am in school before 8am and rarely leave before 6pm. I try to get as much work as possible done so that I have less to do at home. I work on average for six hours at the weekend too, but I always make sure that Friday night and Sunday are mine. My husband and I will go out for a meal or to the cinema and I make sure I catch up with friends and family. I swim three mornings a week before school too as it gives me more energy; exercise helps my mind to totally switch off from work.

And from Jose Picardo, a department head at a high school in England:

I'm an early riser so I like to be in school well in advance of the first bell to get stuff done. ... Morning is also a great time to fit in a coffee with colleagues and have a chat about what's going well or isn't, and even put the world to rights. This is important—sanity can be one of the first casualties of a busy teacher's life.

Perhaps most significantly, three of the four teachers who answered pointed to the same factor as the biggest contributor to work-life balance: Having a school leader who encourages it.

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