The semester is more than half over and I find myself some days having a difficult time balancing work and home life. There is no real separation between work and personal life since I work from home. In the perfect world one would work all morning when the house is quiet, but then I remember that the dishwasher needs to be emptied or I have to cook dinner early because when my child comes home I have to rush out the door for soccer practice or a music lesson. Irrelevant of the reason the list of interruptions goes on and on…
Strategies for balancing my workload:
- Stagger my due dates, especially after the middle of the semester as my courses are writing intensive. This strategy make sense for me as I have about 70 students every semester and I assign about eight to nine assignments per student. So the amount of pages I have to read on my computer/tablet is enormous to say the least.
- Not edit my students’ writing so much, but provide them feedback on the error patterns I see in their writing. Editing student writing can overwhelm students and it does not aid them in becoming better writers. Showing them a few of their errors actually, helps them improve their writing more.
- Pace myself. I read student papers for an hour at a time as my eyes get more tired faster when I read a computer or tablet screen. I usually dedicate 2 hours of reading assignments in the morning, as I have to also respond to student discussions, read blog reflections, and respond to student emails and questions.
- Work at different times of the day and night. So if I work on a set of papers in the morning and I haven’t finished that set of assignments, in order to finish I will end up reading in the evening.
- Take it with me. Many times as I rush out of the house to take my son to the park, practice, or a playdate I bring student papers with me. I download them to my MS Surface and I read them wherever I am. Even if I read two more assignments it is more than I would have if I hadn’t brought my work with me which gets me closer to finishing my work.
- Set due dates for when to return students their homework. It helps me stay organized and the students know when to expect the assignment feedback and their grades.
- Use Tools that will help you stay on track. I like to use my MS Surface tablet as it helps read and comment on student papers like I am reading a piece of paper that a student handed me in class. Besides being able to write on the screen like I would on a hard copy, the other benefit this tablet has is that it is light and small enough for me to be able to take it anywhere.
I am sure that there are more strategies out there that other hard working educators are using, but these are the ones that work for me. They help me balance my personal and professional life because things happen to throw me off track all the time.