The work – life – SEN balance!
“I don’t have a spare minute”
“I haven’t had a chance”
– the three most frequently heard statements in our staffroom.
It seems that many teachers, in particular those with SEN responsibilities, often feel run down, tired and overloaded. Meetings, deadlines, phone calls, paper work and emails are relentless! After a day of teaching children with challenging needs, I just don’t have the energy or patience required. Some days my to do list gets longer and it feels like nothing ever is completed!
Recently, I’ve decided to get my priorities in order. The children! They’re my number one!
Each Monday, I sit down with my diary and plan my week ahead. The first thing I do is go through planners and write in exactly what I need. I now use Teachers Pet or online resources as a starting point (Why make new resources when they’re already available!). I try to use a photograph of the art and sensory play requirements which allows my support staff to set up for me. This has saved me so much time and effort.
Paperwork is a large part of SEN, so I pencil important dates into my diary in advance. When I know IEPs, reports, reviews and plans are due, It’s easier to prepare lessons. I have developed a good filing system and keep laminated resources from year to year. I save lessons which require more preparation for quieter weeks.
Its easy to take on extra tasks or jobs within school but its ok to say no! Everyone has busy periods, so be kind to yourself! Take on new tasks which you enjoy or have time for – but its ok to say that you are already overloaded!
I’ve also came to the conclusion that I will always be able to create work for myself! So with this in mind, I set time limits on the amount of work I bring home. Setting a one hour limit each night helps me to prioritise what is important, what can wait and what could be delegated! I use my support staff for much more prep work which means my husband no longer spends his evenings laminating with me!
Look after yourself, mind and body! Take time to eat well and exercise. Colour in, have a bath, go for a walk, learn an instrument. Use your time for you! After a day of dealing with challenging behaviours and difficult situations you need to take some time to clear your head and relax.
I’ve found that prioritising my workload and looking after myself has created a more positive work-life balance and created a calmer and more prepared classroom!
“You can’t pour from an empty cup”