It is time to cease sporting additional time as a badge of honor

Britt Root , a fifth grade teacher, picks up posts on her Instagram. When her followers wanted to know why, here is her answer. “I’ve shared this in my stories, but I wanted to put it here permanently. I deleted a lot of my old content. 90% of my old posts make me wince. I’m not a fan of my obvious and unhealthy “teaching is my life and I don’t do anything else” mentality. “

The comments poured in. “Thank you for normalizing the shift that needs to take place in education,” said one follower. Another wrote: “The less often teachers are hailed as heroes for crazy work hours, the healthier the narrative becomes.” There is no question that there is a poisonous narrative about teacher work and productivity. It’s time to stop wearing teacher overtime badges of honor.

Overwork doesn’t make you a better teacher.

There is a toxic culture in education that associates revising with a good teacher. Your overtime is not a badge of honor, but a systemic problem that leads to burnout. I wish we could attribute it to the madness of the pandemic class, but we can’t. It’s a deeply ingrained narrative, and it’s time to rewrite history. Nobody says we shouldn’t work hard. There’s no question that teaching takes hard work. It’s rare that we end the day with every item crossed off our to-do list. But we have to accept that there will always be more that we can do. That is why so many of us sacrifice our physical and mental health and work well beyond our contract periods. We sprint towards a finish line that is further and further away.

School culture can make a big difference here. If teachers are expected to handle a heavy workload but have to go to meetings that are scheduled during their planning period, this is not okay. If the planned deadlines are adhered to, the teachers have time to work on the school day and can achieve a better work-life balance.

Whether or not a teacher has their own children doesn’t mean they work more or less than you.

Here is another noxious narrative we need to rewrite about teaching and working. You can hear this all the time. You can’t be a really good teacher and work the way you need to when you have kids. Is not it. You may need to rethink the way you work, but it is wrong to assume that all teachers who don’t have children work more or harder than teachers who do. If anything, we need administrators who build systems that make them work all Teachers and that gives us the flexibility we need to do our job well while fulfilling our responsibilities outside of school. You never know what someone is carrying in addition to their teaching load. Children or no children, we all deserve a work-life balance.

You can’t work as hard every day as you can on your most productive days.

I’ve written about it beforeand I believe that if we accept praise such as “teachers always go above and beyond” and “teachers are superheroes” we are doing ourselves, our jobs and our students a great disadvantage. Ultimately, teachers are human, and sometimes we catch colds, don’t sleep well, or want to take a nap and bathe Netflix. There are also days when we go through most of our to-do list before breakfast, schedule all of our lessons for the week, and fold and put our laundry away.

Our productivity comes and goes. This is why it is so important that you get in touch with you before your to-do list. It is not possible to be our most productive selves every day, and if we stick to this standard no matter what, we prepare for disappointment, burnout, and exhaustion.

Outwardly, we may wear our overtime like a badge of honor, but we will reject the profession we once loved.

Your admin doesn’t think you’ll be a better teacher if you work more (and if so, it’s time to change schools).

I noticed I got a lot of positive reinforcement from my administrator when I got to school early and stayed long. When my administrator said, “I know you could handle this” or “I thought you were the perfect person to do this,” I believed that meant that I was one of the better teachers at my school, and I wore overtime with my teacher like a badge of honor until I refused.

Now when I look back I know that all it meant was that I had no limits and my administrator knew I would say yes if I worked outside of my contract hours. My administrator didn’t think I was the best teacher because I worked too much. She knew sooner that I wouldn’t say no, so she asked me first. So before you drive your car into the school parking lot at 6:00 a.m. or stay in your classroom until everyone else has left, ask yourself if you are making that choice because you want or want to impress an administrator who is already leaving has buildings.

If you compare how much you work with your co-workers, you or they may not benefit from it.

Whether it’s a coping mechanism or misery really loves society, we feed the beast when we wear our teacher as a badge of honor and assume that every teacher should spend the same amount of time on work as we. We’re all different when it comes to productivity, systems and limits. If you are just starting out, everything will take more time. This is why you shouldn’t compare your beginning with someone else’s middle. Stay on your own track and focus on learning more about yourself and your work habits.

You can take care of your children and not do everything that is necessary.

If you want to become a teacher, take care of your children. Nobody enters this profession to make big bucks. Nobody believes that being a teacher will bring fame, let alone respect. Let’s rewrite the story: if you do whatever it takes, it means you don’t take care of yourself. And if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anyone, especially your students.

Let’s stop romanticizing the hectic pace and resilience. If our students see us working all the time or complain about how tired we are all the time, they will do the same. We don’t want our students to believe that their productivity is tied to their self-worth. Instead, let’s model and share how we take care of ourselves and how we learn more about our productivity and the way we do best.

Ultimately, the best we can do to rewrite the narrative about toxic productivity in education is to tell the truth, make a social contribution, or “no” at a time. Thank you Britt Root for bringing the indictment. I’ll leave this here for inspiration. Now it’s your turn.

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In addition, 15 teachers share how they are currently setting limits.

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