Here are some reasons work may be eclipsing your personal life, along with some tips for maintaining balance.
You’ve created a teacher personality monster.
Beginning teachers work hard to be taken seriously. Once we’ve fine-tuned our teacher look and developed a convincing teacher voice, it can be tempting to stay in character. The problem is, adults don’t respond well when we treat them as if they might run with scissors. After you’ve found your teacher personality, you have to learn to turn it on and off. Think of your teacher personality as a shift between your first-name self and last-name self. Beware of letting teacher habits such as micromanaging, grammar corrections, or unwarranted perkiness creep into your adult relationships.
You can’t stop talking about the kids.
You know those people with new babies who can’t stop talking about their babies? New teachers have these tendencies too – except it’s as if we just had 185 babies. We may not realize how bad it’s gotten until we find ourselves at happy hour describing Junior’s response to our sticker-based behavior modification plan only to realize all of the non-teachers have long checked out of our conversation. Just kidding. There are no non-teachers at happy hour. Limit your teacher stories during time out with friends, unless you want to limit your circle of friends to teachers who like to talk shop after hours.
Your job isn’t a good place to build a social life.
If teaching is your first job out of college, it may be the first time you aren’t working with contemporaries. Instead, many of your colleagues are likely married… with children… your age. If you spend your weekdays laughing off comments like, “You look like you should still be in school yourself,” you may have correctly guessed that your extracurricular lifestyle or details of your messy dating life won’t make you more of an adult in your coworkers’ eyes. On the other hand, out-of-work socializing can help you get along on the job, so feel free to accept selected social invitations, and do try to attend work-sponsored events. But behave yourself, and if you want friends who will let you crash on their couches, look elsewhere.
Grading and lesson planning have taken over your personal life.
The holy-grail of “leaving work at work” may not be within your reach as a beginning teacher, but take steps to keep your home from becoming an extension of your classroom. Put realistic limits on the amount of work you bring home, schedule specific hours to work on it, and always guarantee yourself at least one full day off each weekend. There is a reason that, contrary to every first grader’s belief, teachers do not live at school.
Your classroom difficulties are sapping your confidence.
In the past week alone you’ve been called boring twice, bombed an observation, and heard nine-year-olds curse inside your classroom. On top of everything else, you have developed this habit of falling asleep in your clothes on Friday and waking up Saturday with your shoes still on. Exhaustion combined with feelings of high-stakes failure may chip away at your mojo more than you realize. The good news is that you will get better at teaching, and once you do, the confidence you gain will carry over into your personal life as well. For now, do yourself and your kids a favor and set a teacher bedtime. That, at least, is under your control.