Let's re-think this thing called 'work-ethic'.

I confess!

I am a recovering workaholic!

When growing-up, being a hard-worker was a cherished trait. No-one liked to be seen as a shirker, someone who didn't pull their-weight, or least of all ... lazy!

In our society we have many messages around work, such as:

“Nothing worth having comes easy” 

"Working long hours means you are a hard-worker"

"You have to work hard to prove yourself"

I also see this thinking replicated in the workload required of educators today; where more and more is required with less resource. Where people become too fearful to say they are not coping in-case they are perceived as being incompetent. Where people take-on more work in order to get a promotion. Where quantity is valued over quality.

We only have to look at recent information from NZEI that states:

  • A survey of primary and ECE teachers in the first few years of their career has found that 17 per cent expect to leave the profession within five years of graduating. (Link here)
  • 42 percent  of principals reported high or very high stress levels. (Link here)
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In my own work with educational leaders and their staff I come across the effects of this on a daily basis. People suffering from health issues, low morale, working at school all day then another few hours each night and into the weekends, relationships ending, sick-leave through the roof, and people leaving the profession.

I am an activist at heart; with a huge sense of protectiveness and regard for educators. I don't like seeing this happening, and am doing everything I can to support people whilst raising awareness of the need for intervention at all levels. There are also many people in this waka, paddling forward with the vision of bringing-back the joy of teaching and leading in education by addressing the imbalance.

There are however, things you can do NOW that will enable you to protect your own well-being this year... 

Firstly pay attention to your stories around 'work' - where have these come from? How do they serve you?

Next, start to place some boundaries around your time and space. If you do need to do work at home, then limit it to only 1-2 small things. 

Turn off your phone, or place it on silent as soon as you get home so you are not distracted to keep checking emails when you should be relaxing and relating.

If possible, reply to emails only at certain times eg: first thing in the morning, and between 3-5pm, so you start to train people to expect a response during these times...not at 10pm at night!

Lastly, speak-up when things are getting on-top-of-you. As teachers, we can tend to just burrow-down and work even harder in the hope that if we get just one more thing done it will ease the load. 

So beginning this week, I urge you to begin to become mindful around your work ethic stories and start to place some boundaries around your own time. As you do this, look after each other.

Big smiles and much respect
Mary-Anne