I could try to be witty or clever this week, but considering this is already late, I think I will just be honest.
In my efforts to find a balance between work and home I’ve decided that I will forever be on the losing side of the battle. I am a junior high, humanities teacher by day and a mom and wife by… well all the time. I try to get as much done at school as possible, but with thirty minutes of prep time, in four out of the five school days, there isn’t a lot of time for marking. I try to get some done before or after school, but there are meetings, after school help initiatives and supervision that all take away from marking time. Before I know it, it is time to head home and get the kids off to their extra curricular activities, in addition to putting on the evening meal.
The imbalance is simple.
If I take my marking home, I lose time with my family. Time I cherish as they truly are the most important thing in my life. My girls are going to be young only once, and I want to enjoy and appreciate their youth. My eldest is on the cusp of being a teenager and I can already feel her pulling away from us in tiny increments. I want to stop and really listen each time my youngest asks, “Mom can I tell something?” I mean really listen. Not the kind of listening where your mind is distracted and your responses are automatic. Just as importantly, I want to continue to find quality time to spend with my husband. This may be in the form of a chat after supper with a glass of wine, a coffee date or even doing the grocery shopping together. These are all moments that allow us to talk and continue to strengthen the bonds of our love for each other. My husband is my best fried and love of my life, and I never want him to feel he is less important than my job or students.
So let’s examine the flip side.
If I try to get my marking done at school, it takes forever and I can’t get feedback to my students in a timely manner. Any educator knows in the day and age of formative assessments, feedback is key. It must be timely and it must be informative so students fully understand their strengths and areas of improvement. For example, you can not mark an essay in just a couple of minutes. It is not a case of a few checkmarks. There are editing marks to be made, a rubric to be filled out and specific comments to be written. Bottom line, if you want students to improve, you have to tell them exactly how to improve. To be helpful, I have had people suggest I have my students do fewer assessments. Isn’t that counter productive to the learning and skill formation I am asking them to do? How are they supposed to improve and become stronger learners with less work?
So the marking continues to pile up, and in my efforts to preserve my family time during the week, I more often then not spend all of Sunday sitting at my kitchen table marking, not to mention jumping up and down to do laundry all day.
It is not glamourous. It is not fun. It is most certainly not how I want to spend Sunday.
But this is my reality.