The 10 Commandments of Getting a Life Beyond Your Classroom

After my rant against “heroic teaching” I thought it might be helpful to give some tips on what has worked for me. Let me be clear that I am still trying to get my balancing act together as well . . . do as I say not as I do. This is a tongue-n-cheek list I made a couple of years ago for a professional development session I did on balance:

  1. Thou shall backwards plan. This is how you get your life back. Ideally, you calendar objectives for each day for the whole year in the summer; this way you never have to ask “What am I teaching today?
  2. Thou shall backwards plan thy next unit or at least week this very Saturday and get ahead of the game.
  3. Thou shall plan thy planning periods – and not just do whatever has to be done.  A weekly routine is a good way to handle planning periods. Monday – plan make a to do list, catch up, grade; Tuesday – grade; Wednesday – write lesson plans for the next week; Thursday – create materials for the next week (handouts, gather equipment, put together readings, etc.); Friday – make copies
  4. Thou shall only use class time and planning time in service of thine assessments. Teach to the test – but make sure it is a good test.
  5. Hate thine enemy e-mail and only check it twice a day; once in the morning and once immediately after school ends. Never during your planning period.
  6. Verily I say unto you the copier is also thine enemy therefore do not make copies in the morning – inevitably this will lead to disaster.
  7. Thou shall work at school because that is what you are paid to do – you are not paid to work at home. Also working at home makes you loath our sacred profession if you do it too much. Therefore I say unto you, come early and/or stay late but seriously avoid working at home.
  8. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. (and this one I didn’t make up!) Pick one of the two weekend days and do not do any work on that day. Whatever you do, make sure you’ve stopped working by 6:00pm on Sunday.  Working Sunday night makes you loath our sacred profession.
  9. Thou shall be friends with thy colleagues. These people will get you through the worst days – don’t try to do this alone. Friends don’t let friends work themselves to death. Sometimes, bring your coworkers food/treats/coffee/etc..
  10. Remember if thou hast worked thyself to death this week, thou can try for balance again tomorrow or next week. There is always another chance to change your classroom and take control of your life.

3 thoughts on “The 10 Commandments of Getting a Life Beyond Your Classroom

  1. Christina O'Malley says:

    If your route to your classroom goes past the copy room, hit the power to warm up the copier (I agree, avoid morning copies at all costs) – its an easy way to make friends.

  2. Kathleen Dyer says:

    I started reading your blog after seeing it advertised on Jenny Corroy’s facebook and will certainly be a regular from now on. These Commandments are the most useful religious instruction of my life :). Thanks for creating meaningful discourse about the experience of career teachers, especially those staking out a life in a burnout-heavy charter school. 🙂

  3. […] Really, really try hard to keep nights and weekends work free: This is tricky but it’s possible. One approach is to dedicate an entire Saturday or Sunday to catching up on grading and planning. Then follow a weekly schedule to keep ahead of yourself. Some of the darkest moments of my life have been October mornings battling the copy machine and the clock. For more advice about keeping a reasonable work-life balance click here. […]

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