“Don’t take your work home with you.” This is an expression that we hear all of the time. Perhaps someone has written this on an advice card at your bridal shower. Maybe your mother-in-law has said it to you before. Somehow, someway, I’m sure you’ve heard it. “Don’t take your work home with you,” we’ve heard time and time again as an ongoing, lifelong suggestion that prevents you from arguing with your spouse, and encourages you to maintain a life of your own.
However, let’s take a moment to consider the teachers…While we’re at it, let’s take another moment to consider the English teachers, the ones who assign literary analysis papers, annotations, 4-5 page argumentative or persuasive essays, short stories, creative writing assignments, etc, etc, etc, etc. It literally never ends.
So, I invite you to consider how (English) teachers can refrain from taking their work home with them. Lord and administration both know that 1-2 prep periods a day are in no way, shape, or form, enough time to effectively grade and provide feedback for the students. It is impossible for us not to take our work home with us. This has proven to be so stressful. When my boyfriend wants to cuddle and watch a movie, I’m writing my own papers, grading their papers, shaking my head and becoming increasingly frustrated by some of the careless mistakes that I’ve cautioned against over and over. However, there are proud moments too, when you see the improvement, the progression, the surprises, the ah-has, when the students finally get it. It’s a beautiful job, but one that requires dedication outside of the normal work hours.
My question to fellow English teachers is this, how do you maintain your own life, your own sense of self as you become lost in the stacks and folders? How do you put time into your relationship when you’re consumed with work responsibilities during off-hours that are meant to be spent with the ones you love? We don’t have the luxury of taking our sweet time in returning graded work to the students. Returning work in a timely manner is something I really believe in, yet I’m struggling to find balance between my work life and personal life. Livelihood versus livelihood, think about that for a second.