To work on vacation, or not to work: that is the question

November 28, 2013

in hot topics

lesson planning on the weekend

I was going to write about a post about how teachers should relax, enjoy the Thanksgiving break, and not think about school even once. Family is more important than work, and ultimately, taking a break from school stuff can make you a more relaxed and energized teacher. But, there’s a problem.

not working on vacation

Choosing not to grade papers or do any lesson planning usually means extra stress when returning to work on Monday morning. Most of us have do at least a little bit of work at SOME point over the weekend to prevent chaos the next week. Of course, that “work” often involves dragging a bag full of papers and supplies home, and then dragging the completely untouched bag right back to school again the following week.

work at home work at school

That approach is often accompanied by desperate begging on Sunday night…

let it snow

The solution will look different for each one of us. Some teachers–like me–try to do a little extra in the week or two before a break so they can relax over the holiday. Others get all their work done on the first day of the break, while still others put school out of their mind until Sunday and take care of everything then. And a few brave souls simply say, “The work will still be there on Monday,” and don’t do anything out of the ordinary to prepare.

Have you found an approach that is workable for you and your family? Please share how you balance school work and holiday vacations. Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you get some quality time to RELAX, as you’ve earned it!

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Angela was a classroom teacher for 11 years and currently works as an instructional coach and educational consultant based in New York City. She's created a webinar series on pro-active behavior management and has written 3 books for educators. Check out the blog and free teacher resource pages for photos, tips & tricks, activities, printables, and more.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Beng November 28, 2013 at 10:53 pm

1. Have fun in work
I believe that when I enjoy what I do. It doesn’t feels like work. We have 24 hrs a day. We have to spend it somehow. So to look for fun in my work is very very important so I won’t come off as frustrated and angry
2. Work hard on my fun
When I have my vacation or rest. I will do it whole heartedly knowing that I need the recharging for the work coming.

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2 Angela Watson November 29, 2013 at 9:20 am

I love this advice, Beng! Have fun in work, work hard in fun. Thank you for sharing.

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3 Dani B November 30, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Such a realistic topic to discuss, Angela. I battle this issue each and every weekend… and Thanksgiving break is no different: report cards are due this week, new goals for the 2nd trimester need to be submitted to our principal, and plans for Christmas activities await! This is my 7th year of teaching, and I feel like I struggle just as much to balance work and home now as I did my first year. Will watch for more teacher comments of encouragement on this topic. :-)

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4 Charlene December 2, 2013 at 1:30 am

I don’t know that it ever gets any easier. I am in my 30th year of teaching and still struggle. I try really hard to keep in top of marking. Other strategy is to plan units with lots of detail so I just have to tweek from year to year. Teaching the same grade for a number of years helps. No matter how much work we do on breaks there will still be more to fill our days so really, what’s the point? Easier said than done but that’s what my husband keeps telling me.

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5 Lee November 30, 2013 at 7:58 pm

This is sooo me. I don’t do it, because I’m trying to relax, but I think about what I have to do, so I can’t relax. I want to be prepared, but it just feels like no matter how hard I try, I’m never fully prepared.

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6 Beth November 30, 2013 at 9:38 pm

You took the words right out of my mouth Lee. My school bag is sitting in the car where I left it the day vacation started.
Sometimes I really resent having to take work home on weeknights and weekends so…..
I’ve accepted that there aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done. I do what I can, set my work aside and put my energy into my personal life.
Sometimes that’s easier said than done, because lurking in the back of my mind is all the work I have to get done.
So to avoid freaking out about the week ahead on Sunday night,I’ll put in 2-3 hours tomorrow, plan for M-W, grade papers, work on my paper for the course I just finished, and then whether I’m done or not, the bag will be set near the door where it will stay until Monday morning….and I’m going to be okay with that.

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7 Kbergin November 30, 2013 at 10:06 pm

One of the wisest principals I’ve ever seen told teachers to take their stuff home and relax right after school, right after the kids left. She believed they had worked their best all day and they would do their best if they could get the rest done from home. She held short no nonsense, no BS meetings. You’ve never seen a happier staff. I love it when snow days coincide with report card writing. Taught for 33 years though now part time which is great. I taught music in public and private schools and now work in an arts center which is so full of collaboration between instructors, it’s opened up whole new areas of learning for me. I still love the interaction with students. I can’t imagine not teaching somehow in my life.

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