I keep hearing about quiet quitting in the workforce, and not just in education. And I get it. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it's that life is too short to be spending so much time working at the expense of our family, right?
I was intrigued though about quiet quitting in education, which is essentially saying, “I'm not outright quitting, but I'm going to do the bare minimum.” I don't believe that's happening in teaching. Heck, there are very few teachers out there doing the bare minimum.
I know that teachers ways of relating to work has changed after the pandemic. So many teachers felt disillusioned, taken advantage of, and easily replaced. From the comments from the community on facebook pages, condescending emails, and outright lies from politicians, teachers have simply had enough, and I don't blame them.
If they aren't downright quitting like many educators have, they're not quiet quitting. They're simply setting boundaries, acknowledging their worth, and prioritizing.
I talk a lot about this inside my program Easy Organization Tools and on this episode of Real Teacher Talk, but I want to talk about it with you as well! It's entirely possible to be an amazing teacher without continuing to sacrifice all of your time.
The problem in education
A massive problem with education is that it's built on the backs on unpaid labor, unspoken rules about leaving at contract time, and teacher guilt.
How many times have you been asked, or voluntold to join a committee because the kids really need you?
And often when we say yes to things like that, it's either unpaid. And if it is paid, it's taking away time from planning, catching up on emails, getting your room in order, or spending time at home.
Who's to blame?
I don't know, there can be a million people we can point the finger at but it's such a bigger problem than just the culture of your school and community. But that's for another day.
Here's what teachers can do
So much is out of our control as educators as the profession is incredibly micromanaged. But, there are 5 simple things you can do to take your power back so that you no longer have to continue choosing school over your home life.
Grab a notebook and make a list of what's really important to you. Is being outside every day, spending quality time at night with the fam, exercising, meeting up with friends, picking your kids up from daycare, important to you?
Whatever it is, make a list!
Now that you have your list of values, make some boundaries around them. That means if picking your kids up from daycare before the sun sets is important, set an alarm at school to leave at 4 pm every day. But how can I actually do that and leave prepared??? We'll get to that in a minute!
It's healthy to set boundaries with your friends, family, and workplace!
It can also feel a tad overwhelming or uncomfortable to have new boundaries in place so feel free to test out just one or two boundaries per month!
So now you've set the boundary of leaving at 4:00pm three days per week? But how do you do that when you've got grading to catch up on, centers to plan, and PLC meetings to attend?
This is where systems come into place. You need to create systems (or procedures or routines) to streamline tasks in your classroom.
You'll need systems for:
- passing out and collecting work
- organizing your library
- setting up math and literacy centers
- communicating with caregivers
- setting up conferences
- managing guided reading
- grading work efficiently
- attending meetings (PLC, IEP, SST, etc.)
- collecting data
- classroom management
- lesson planning
- and a whole bunch more, especially when it comes to organization
I get it, that's just a small list of systems and it's no wonder it's so hard to accomplish everything you have on your to-do list every day. So pick a few systems that are taking up too much time or maybe aren't running as smooth as you'd like and do what you can do make those run smoothly.
Once your class is running like a well-oiled machine where everyone knows what to do, you'll cut down on behaviors and distractions and will have more time to teach and prep. after school!
4. Ask for help
I'm a big fan of asking for help, whether that be from my team, students, former students, and parent and caregiver volunteers.
Is there a task you don't enjoy or something that's repetitive? Ask for help!
I use to have students level and label books, change the date on the board, stamp papers, file work, ready with a buddy, and so much more!
I've been at school with volunteers and plenty without. Make volunteers work for you! That means, make it meaningful and not just something you are coming up with them to do to pass the time.
I've had parents give our weekly word study test to differentiated groups, do Read Naturally to work on fluency, run a Scholastic News reading group, run our classroom store, or do art with the students.
Set up a routine and make it easy for you!
5. Say no to extra things
Yes, it can be uncomfortable, especially when we've been do conditioned to be guilted into saying, “Yes.”