School Time and Personal Time- how/where to draw the line!?!?!

Discussion in 'General Education' started by SwOcean Gal, Jan 9, 2011.

  1. SwOcean Gal

    SwOcean Gal Devotee

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    Jan 9, 2011

    KinderCowgirl's post on emotional resilience got me thinking... well, that and a lot of school stuff going on.
    Okay, we all check our school e-mail like 12 times a day and all that along with our mailboxes- it is checked every day. Well, what about over the weekend? What do you do about school e-mails from parents over the weekend? Do you check your school e-mail over the weekend? Do you take your personal time to call parents over the weekend if you were unable to get them throughout the week (I tried to contact a parent during the week and no go- I stay late at school everyday and am readily available- on Friday for the first time all year I left with the rest of the building by 4:30- it was awesome! but then I get an e-mail just now from the parent saying oh, I called around 3:30 you must have left for the day! Please, I was there till 4:30!)? It is Sunday night and I just want to enjoy the last of my weekend, but parent e-mail has me stressed. ugh.
    So how do you deal? I obviously love it and I spend my weekend making supplies for the kids and making games and centers and planning out great ideas, surfing here and the net looking for that perfect something to add whatever for my kids and I love it all- it is my life, I like doing it, but then I get this e-mail. UGH! I kind of start resenting it all- a parent I cannot get all week then pops up to ruin my weekend. I was just in the midst of creating some games for the kids and now- I just want it to all go away! Ugh- huge VENT! Sorry. But really, what do you do? How do you keep it from getting to you? How do you draw that line between personal time and school time and not feel guilty about it or unprofessional or whatever? I had intended to call the parent over the weekend, but then I just did not want to take my personal time for it and here I face this e-mail. I want to be accessible and approachable and all that, but there has to be a line, doesn't there? What do you do? I would love to know. Thanks!
     
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  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jan 9, 2011

    I check my school email a few times a day.

    But on Sunday night? Sure, I check, but I don't promise to do so. If there's something there from administration or another teacher, I'll respond to it.

    But the situation you describe?? Respond tomorrow. It's obviously not urgent or she would have gotten back to you long before now.
     
  4. Emily Bronte

    Emily Bronte Groupie

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    I check my email throughout the school day. I have just learned not to check it at home. This means weeknights when I get home and not on weekends.
     
  5. SwOcean Gal

    SwOcean Gal Devotee

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    Oh, Alice- you are just the person I was hoping for a response from!
    Whew, thanks! I needed that reassurance. As much as I want and need to be accessible, I also need to draw a line and honestly the weekend should be my time. I spend nearly all of my free time on school stuff anyways, but it is stuff I love. Thanks, Alice!

    Emily- that is a good point. Absolutely, that would be a great way to save my sanity. At the very least- it will be no more work e-mail once I get home on Fri until Monday morning when I get in to school or before I leave for school at the earliest! At least knowing other teachers do the same I won't feel guilty about it or unaccessible or whatever else! Thanks!
     
  6. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jan 9, 2011

    I love my job and my students, but I also love my husband and my personal life. When I'm not at school, my time is my own and I spend it doing things I want to do. Obviously I pop in and out of this place throughout the day--I pretty much always have A to Z and Facebook open on my computer at any given time. Habit, I suppose.

    Anyway, during my personal time in the evenings or on the weekend, I don't check my school email unless I'm expecting something. I'm available all week at school during my contract hours, so I'll contact parents and respond to emails during that time.

    I know that I'm a better teacher when I live a balanced life and when I spend my personal time relaxing and spending time with my husband.
     
  7. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I check my email at school first thing in the morning, during my free period and at the end of the day. I generally don't check at home...maybe on Sunday night to see if there's anything that affects my week...if there is a parent email I'll answer it, but I don't make phone calls from home. My home time is pretty sacred. Sure I'll correct some papers, write lesson plans, create materials, but it's not my main focus when I'm home. I'm passionate about my work...but my family is my priority.
     
  8. UVAgrl928

    UVAgrl928 Habitué

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    I check my email on weekends, but I normally wait until Monday to respond. However, emails I get are rarely from parents.

    By the way.... some advice on calling parents over the weekend. Don't EVER call from your personal number. Only use your school phone. Calling from your personal phone leaves you open to parents really being able to contact you on your personal time (since most phones are now equipped with some sort of caller ID). It also runs the risk that it might be given out to other parents.
     
  9. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    I even check my school e-mail from home before I go to work (I'm on the computer anyway) and I do check it evenings and weekends. More out of habit I think than anything. I got an e-mail from a parent over the holiday saying her child didn't come home with the homework packet. I didn't respond-I didn't think that was something emergent I could really do anything about over the break anyway.

    Our last day before vacation was a 1/2 day-we did a staff development activity (bowling) about a mile from my house. It felt so good to leave at 3:30 and be home before 4:00. To actually come home during daylight. I'm usually at school until at least 4:30-5:00 regularly-I facilitate after school activities or just preparing for the next day. It made me think too. Maybe I'm committing to much time to my job.
     
  10. SwOcean Gal

    SwOcean Gal Devotee

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    I found out from another teacher that dialing *67 and then the phone number blocks your number- so you can call parents without them getting your number. I tried it from my cell to my house, but my house number I have the service that won't allow a blocked number to go through. So at least I know it works- I blocked my cell number and could not even get through to my house- so it does work- in case you need to (Yet, I am still not even sure I would want to risk it- that is the last thing I want is parents calling me on my cell/house and having that number.). I had to get home on Fri earlier because it was the first class for puppy training and I could not miss it and I had wanted to give that parent one final call, but I had to go, I could not stick around any later to do it! So I had to get out! It was awesome! I need to do that more often- the leaving school earlier bit. lol
    I did not end up calling and now I am understanding and realizing it was okay not to have called on my time. Thanks, everyone. I really needed that reassurance and to hear how all of you handle it and deal with it. This is a huge stress buster for me! Thanks, now I can sleep peacefully through the night without worrying! whew! yay! Thank you!
     
  11. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    The lines are extremely blurry to the online educator. I've been known to work with students until 9 at night. On the other hand, sometimes I have a slow morning and realize none of my students are awake to take a phone call. That's when I crawl back into bed for a half hour with my espresso. The trick is to space out pockets of time for myself while allowing for some of my evenings to be occupied with school duties.

    Very, VERY odd balance.
     
  12. SwOcean Gal

    SwOcean Gal Devotee

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    Cat- I guess, what I am slowly learning is that at least there is a balance and it is a necessity to have that balance.
     
  13. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Jan 9, 2011

    For 6 years of teaching, I've been obsessed. Arguments with dh over the amount of time (and money) spent on the classroom were not uncommon. These past few months, I've drawn a very thick black line between school and personal time. The stress at school is almost unbearable at this point, and I cannot bring that home with me for mental and physical health reasons. I punch out at 4 and do not think about school until I get to work at 8 the next morning. I do not check e-mail at home (it's usually negative anyhow), and I don't take phone calls at home. I've offered to meet with my team teacher at least 5 times this year on a Saturday as his parents live very near to me and he visits them on the weekends, and he has stood me up every single time. I'm done wasting my days, trying to predict if he's going to call with an excuse or just not show up. So now I'm officially officially out of contact on the weekends.

    This weekend I worked on Sprout, worked on the house, built my poster holder (for personal use), played Quidditch with new friends, had lunch with an old friend, picked up knitting supplies for a new class I'm taking and am now relaxing in front of a fire with dh. Bliss. I miss having fun working on the classroom, but I'm finding joy in things that I've put off for far too long.
     
  14. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    I have my work e-mail forwarded to my personal e-mail so that I get all important e-mails, often ones including instructions for the following day. I rarely get e-mails from parents, but if I do, I decide what is best. If it's a one off issue, I may respond from home. If it's a more in depth issue, or from a parent that tends to try to monopolize my time, I will wait until school hours, so as to send the message that I am not available to them 24/7. If it's a controversial issue (or one that could potentially be controversial) I call.
     
  15. DaveG

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    Jan 9, 2011

    I check my e-mail and make phones call from home fairly often on regular weekends, but never on holiday weekends or vacation time. It's somewhat of an expectation in my district and my position (special ed resource) that we keep in close contact with families.
     
  16. FourSquare

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    Oh, that balance thing. :lol: I don't know if I do that very well. I am married to my email. I can get it on my laptop, ipod, and cell phone. I'm at school from 6am-6pm and spend quite a bit of time lesson planning after that. I also read education books for fun. But I don't feel overworked. I like to stay busy, and I am genuinely passionate about what I do. Plus, I'm single. It really helps that I don't have any outside responsibilities.

    I scheduled myself a massage on Wednesday! Does that count for something? :)
     
  17. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I didn't have much balance except Saturday is my zombie day. I checked my email in the morning before school and sometimes at other times during the day, but as awful as it may sound, I often didn't get around to checking it again until I got home and settled in. I preferred to check it then. My parents got used to my evening emails. BUT I was lucky because parents respected my boundaries more than I did and not only didn't bug me on the weekends but when they did send something, they waited patiently and thanked me for working hard and keeping in touch, etc. I miss my parents really. I was very grateful for the ones I had. As a trade off though, they got tons of emails that shared what suzy or johnny did throughout the week because I was just too proud of them not to share. I love emails from parents (but never got a bad one).

    What bugged me most was I didn't have enough of a balance to not need to come in every single Sunday for hours to get ready for the week. I began to dread every Sunday. If I could have figured out how to get all the work done within the hours I would have. I do know that my adhd means it takes me extra time to do some tasks and to stay organized, etc. I manage it because I give myself more time. It's not my preference though. But I know that's not the whole answer. Bottom line is I didn't have enough balance but emails wasn't part of that equation. Those I actually enjoyed.

    Overall, I loved my job though. I will miss it. I already find myself doing some teacher projects and donating them. Lol. It's only been a week but I'm in somewhat of a withdrawl state.

    Speaking of massage, when I move, I am already looking forward to scheduling a massage. I looked up several places there and their massages are CHEAP! I'm soooo doing that! My husband is so sweet that he recently told me I should have a massage regularly. Why didn't he tell me that a lot sooner! Tee hee!
     
  18. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Jan 9, 2011

    I don't do school things on the weekends, unless it is an assigned task (I coach speech, so for example, yesterday was our preplanned workday, so I was at school from 9-2). Otherwise, it can wait til Monday.

    I have a grandparent who likes to email me at around 5 pm, or 8 am, and expects a response immediately. She doesn't get it. I will respond to her 5 pm email the next morning, and her 8 am email after school. Usually it's just to give me another lame excuse why her granddaughter didn't do her homework, and whatever can she do about that (I don't know...make her do her homework? Hmm...). If it's an emergency, they can call the school, and if it's TRULY an emergency, I'll leave class to take it. I've never had an emergency like that though.

    One thing I do is every single communication I send home has my "office hours" printed on it. Then I stick to it.
     
  19. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I rarely check my school email when at home. Home time is my time. I try to get everything done at school (well, as much as I can).
     
  20. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I check my school email a few times over the weekend and will usually respond. Emails from parents are very rare (we are not encouraged to use email as a primary form of communication with parents), so most are from administration or colleagues. I would only make phone calls from home in highly unusual circumstances (I never have) and I wouldn't call on the weekend.
     
  21. Starista

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    This is so well said.

    I've been working on attaining this "balance" for some time now, especially now that we have a baby on his way.

    Over Christmas break I worked on lesson plans, but I refrained from checking my school e-mail as often as I usually do when school is in session. That was a BIG accomplishment for me!

    I'm working on establishing healthy boundaries in several aspects of my life, and school is one of them.

    In fact, a coworker whose child I teach has a habit of visiting my classroom before school hours to talk about things in the classroom with me. As she is coming to me as a parent and not a colleauge, I politely (and then firmly) told her that before school time was MY time to get ready for the day and could she please use the email, voicemail, or note in the folder system like the other parents. :)
     
  22. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    The primary non-emergency means of communication with faculty this year is email; we're really trying to go green and cut down on paper use. So that's a big part of it; if I didn't check email over the weekend, I might very well come in not knowing of a schedule change or something else that could effect my teaching. Or I might miss a question or note from a colleague.

    But the choice is mine for the other stuff. I DO tend to respond to parent emails right away, because that's my nature; I like to get that stuff out of the way. But as long as it's attended to in a reasonably timely matter, my administration is OK with it.
     
  23. mkate

    mkate Comrade

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    We don't even have school email, so that's not as issue. In general here, from what I've seen, teachers are not expected to be at school before or after their contract hours, and parents don't expect calls or contact on weekends. (This is all for the public system-- the private /charter schools are another story.)
     
  24. dizzykates

    dizzykates Habitué

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    I do check email on Sunday night, but I do not respond to anything. The last thing I want is a time stamp going to parents, or admin for that matter, saying that I am available to work on Sunday.

    I never make phone calls from home and I rarely make them after 3:30. My hours are until 3:30 so if I choose to stay later, I work on other things, parents will find a way to be available or I will play phone tag, but I am not getting into a long discussion with a parent after the hours I have given them to contact me.
     
  25. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    I check my school email on Sunday evenings if I know there was some unresolved issue or question on Friday, but other than that, I just wait until I get to school.

    I call parents during the school day, but I'll call my students in the evenings if I need to remind them to do something or bring something to school.
     
  26. Kindergarten31

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    I am pretty much the same as dizzykates. And I used to ocassionally use my cell phone to call parents. Not any more. Last year I had to call a parent and our school phone wouldn't call their number (out of area). So I used my cell to call. This year, I get a call from that same parent, complaining that the bus was late! What? I am not that child's teacher anymore. But he still had my number in his phone. Good grief! Kinda scary.
     
  27. DallasLady

    DallasLady Rookie

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    I get to school an hour before the first bell in the mornings, and I stay 30-60 minutes after the last bell on a daily basis. One or two nights a week I will stay late at school to catch up on grading, make calls, etc. I don't check school emails over the weekend and (unless there is a big project) I don't grade on the weekends either. If that makes me a bad teacher, then so be it.

    I have only used my cell phone for one parent. I knew her and I knew she had an unusual work schedule and didn't have an email address. I would call her in the evenings to give her progress updates on her son. Otherwise, I don't do calls from my home or cell phone either. Whenever I call a parent, I always tell them what times I am available by phone (before, after school and conference.) Likewise, my voicemail message states this info as well.
     
  28. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Jan 10, 2011

    I usually check my school email on Sunday afternoon/evening, but if I don't, it's not a big deal. If a parent has contacted me, I do not reply until Monday morning at work.

    I do not call parents from my home phone, nor do I typically call outside of school hours. If parents call me at home, I let the answering machine get it. Then I call them back from school the following day.
     
  29. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    I check my school e-mail every morning when I arrive at school, at lunch time, before I go home and then once again in the evening. The only reason I check my e-mail at home in the evening is because I have told my students they can e-mail me about assignments. I check once or twice over the weekend if I am anticipating or if students are working on a project. Otherwise I leave it alone.

    I don't call parents from home. I did a couple times last year in really extenuating circumstances, but this year I haven't. I call before or after school. I have found e-mail to be an excellent way to keep up with parents, but only those parents that have given me their e-mail address and have indicated it's their preferred method of communication.
     
  30. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I check my school email every single day several times—weekends and breaks. There are various messages sent to my school email account that don't involve stress or actual "work-work" and I simply want my messages. On the weekends, I don't usually mind responding to a parent's email. Besides, two minutes of my time can go a long way with teacher to home relationships. That said, and this isn't a common situation, if the email is negative, I wait until I feel it's my undeniable responsibility to respond. :)
     
  31. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I've had parents notice my three in the morning time stamp and comment on it. One practically scolded me for being up so late. :haha:
     
  32. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    lol
     
  33. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I'm at my school computer now, checking email. On the other hand, I'm also on here typing this. Does that count for balancing things? :whistle:
     
  34. SwOcean Gal

    SwOcean Gal Devotee

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    Sadly enough- I just finished checking my work emails and replying, but I am done for the night! No more checking!
     
  35. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    I'm not the type of person who eats, sleeps, & breathes my job. Life is too short for that! Of course I work the hours I'm supposed to & all that, but I'm not the be on campus at 6am, stay until 6pm & bring work home every weekend type of person.

    If a parent can NEVER reach me M-F & it's some big emergency, then I'll try to make an exception, but if they think they're going to make a habit of us being weekend email or phone buddies, they've got another thing coming. We teachers have a life too & need to relax.

    But of course if teachers don't draw the line at the point they're willing to stop, teaching can very easily consume a person. Same way with bringing work home on weekends. I'll do it as little as possible.
     
  36. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I'm going through withdrawls this week. All night long I really wanted to email one of my students's parents (now former student...just quit before the break to prepare for my move to Japan) and suggest a certain chapter book series for their enjoyment (reading at home homework). Sigh. It just means I miss them. I accept that and let it go.
     
  37. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    HELP! I was on the phone with students until 5pm. Now I'm trying to force myself to stay away from school stuff but my classroom is right here in my house.
     
  38. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    I don't check my email over the weekend. I will talk on the phone with parents if they call me during the week, but I am at a small school so this doesn't happen often. If it was often, I would have to train parents to contact me during the school day during my break time or before/after school.

    You can do this at the beginning of the year by sending this info home with parents with your first class letter. Say something like, "If you need to reach me, please call the school. I will check messages and call you back during my break times, or you may contact me before/after school" and give the times you are available.

    Parents can be trained to call you at the times you are available! I agree that there needs to be a line drawn so you can have balance. Otherwise, we get burned out. It is reasonable to gently state when you are available.
     
  39. newbie23

    newbie23 Comrade

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    Jan 12, 2011

    Very interesting question.

    Personally, I check my email regularly in the evenings but don't always respond. I check my email when I get to school, on my planning and lunch breaks, and before I leave for the day. I typically check my email at least once when I get home, moreoften if I'm expecting something important.

    If my colleagues need something, they know my phone number or can contact me through facebook.

    I'm not married and moved away from my family and friends so I admit I spend probably more time than I should on schoolwork in the evenings. I try to get all of my lesson plans done by Friday night so that my weekends are free. I travel home each weekend (4 hours roundtrip) so when I get there, I don't want to spend all of my time on school work. I don't mind grading on the weekends because I find that much less taxing and intensive as lesson planning but even this I try to keep to a minimum.

    There are parents who email me quite a bit (several times a week) but I've done nothing to discourage that. At the beginning of the year, if they needed the spelling words because Johnny forgot, I'd email it to them; if they didn't understand #5 on the HW, I'd respond. I'm less willing to do that now as it's more of a responsibilitiy issue but I do respond when it is a simple request, or especially if it's my fault (one week I sent a student home with the regular spelling list instead of the challenge).
     
  40. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Lol. I've had a comment once from staff. :whistle:

    I don't email parents that late because many of them have pagers and I'm afraid the email might go t their pager and wake them up. Most staff members here can't get their work email on their pager without going through the internet (so it isn't synced) so I took a chance. Lol.
     
  41. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Jan 12, 2011

    True enough to my nature, I wound up talking with a student until 10:30 last night. However, this was one who works from 4:30am until 9pm, so he was beside himself that he had a teacher who cared enough to call him when he could actually talk. It was worth it.
     

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