As a special education teacher, navigating work-life balance can be tricky. There are times when you need to take your mind off school and focus on your personal life and mental well-being.
It is important for special educators to make sure they are not overwhelmed and burned out, while ensuring that their students receive the best support and resources possible.
Not having some semblance of work-life balance can quickly turn into stress and anxiety that you carry with you to and from school. This can lead to burnout that makes you wonder if special education or tutoring is for you.
Here, we’ll explore the different ways special educators can find a healthy balance between their professional and personal lives. We’ll look at tips for organizing your schedule, utilizing available resources, developing self-care habits, setting boundaries with colleagues and students, and more! Work-life balance doesn’t have to be so far away!
Basics of work-life balance for special educators
Organizing your schedule
With all the demands of teaching, many special education teachers feel overwhelmed and exhausted. A great place to start when looking for balance is your schedule. Use calendar tools to stay organized and prioritize tasks by importance. This will help prevent you from feeling like you’re always falling behind, while ensuring your students get the attention they need and you get the recharge time you need.
One tip that works well is to block off time at the beginning of each week when you are out of class. Those are the times when it’s just for you and your family. Evenings and weekends should be personal time, but there may be times when school events or conferences must take place. Setting aside personal time at the beginning of the week will ensure you give yourself the time you need to relax and recharge!
Use of available resources
Many special educators do not take full advantage of available resources such as technology, aides, support staff, and other teachers in their campus or district who can offer guidance and assistance. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Other people can make it easier for you, so you can focus more energy on the things that matter most.
Developing self-care habits
When it comes to work-life balance, self-care habits are essential. Make sure you take time to relax, unwind and recharge. This can look different for everyone – take a walk around the block, read an inspirational book (or one with a fun and engaging plot!), or take a yoga class if that’s something that resonates with you!
Self-care can also look like taking a warm shower, tending to the flowers in the garden, washing your face at night with a gentle cleanser, or painting your toenails funky colors. If it brings you joy and peace, it’s perfect self-care.
Setting boundaries with colleagues, families and students
It is important for special educators to establish boundaries between their professional and personal lives. For example, be careful not to take too much outside of school hours – set specific times when you will not answer emails or phone calls. You should also clearly communicate expectations to colleagues, families, and students so they understand when they should expect answers from you.
Just because a parent or student emails you on the weekend doesn’t mean you have to respond. Your contract hours are the hours you get paid for being at work. Other time than that is for you and your family. Boundaries are healthy and good. Set them up.
Leaving school Work at school
Taking your work home can be tempting, but it’s an important habit to avoid. Make sure you prioritize your personal life and set a specific time each day when you stop working. If the task is not completed, it can wait until the next day – you deserve a break!
Know when to say no
When it comes to work-life balance, sometimes the answer has to be “No.” Don’t be afraid to set limits and recognize your needs – it’s okay to say no if something isn’t essential or doesn’t fit into your schedule.
Finding a balance is possible
Finding a balance between your professional and personal life as a special education teacher may not seem impossible. With a few simple changes in the way you approach your schedule, use available resources, develop self-care habits, and set boundaries with colleagues, families, and students, you’ll be able to find more balance in no time!
Remember, self-care should always come first. You are worth it!