Transform Your Teacher Weekend
The Art of Planning the Perfect Weekend in Five Easy Steps
Granted this upcoming weekend is a "winter break weekend," but it still counts as a weekend. Now is the time to practice amazing and nurturing habits for the back-to-the-grind that is about a week away. I have rested this past week between the Christmas holiday and New Years with the full intention of getting to my pile of papers next week after the last holiday (casually looks at all the teacher memes that say we aren't touching it even with the best intentions). I need to get into that stack. I have three preps worth of essays that I think I can get through using my rubric coding system with the six traits. I feel good about being updated with grades and lesson plans by the time we get back, yet, I know that it will be all too easy to get wrapped up in the Monday-Sunday, when we open our eyes to when we close our eyes, day-to-day that is teaching. The re-takeover of our time starts with the weekend. It was always meant to be ours anyway.
There is a five-step plan outlined in this post to re-takeover your weekend during the school year and in the middle of the daily teaching grind. The weekend timeline takes into consideration that the weekend starts on 5pm Friday and lasts until 5am on Monday morning. Using this timeline, there are 60 hours in the weekend. The following steps will breakdown the weekend into percentages based on hours. Each step is accompanied by a TED Talk that helped urge reflection in that particular planning area.
DISCLAIMER: I SHAMELESSLY PROMOTE WEEKENDS OF NON-PRODUCTIVITY. I ALSO AM A CONSTANT MISSION TO FIND OUT HOW BALANCE MY WORK AND MY LIFE. THIS POST CONSIDERS THE LATTER.
Step 1: Sleeping Time
21/60 hours needs to be spent sleeping. This is 7 hours of sleep each of the three available nights. While napping helps this issue, it is important for me to understand as a teacher that one-third of the weekend is already supposed to be taken out of the equation by me resting. How often do we get to rest? Are we resting enough? The weekend flies by just knowing that this time is taken by sleep. I first looked at this negatively...how dare my weekend be taken by nothingness. ME resting? How dare I? However, after rethinking this number, it reminded me how important sleeping should be to me performing as the best teacher and person I can be.
How often am I getting 7 hours of sleep during the week? Can I be establishing better end-of-day routines so that I am not spacing out when the day comes to a close? Am I sleeping well? In my 105 Ways to Make the Most of Winter Break post, I recommend keeping a notebook or journal by your bed table. I like to keep mine close for that idea that pops up at 3am or that kid that I am worrying about whether they are eating or not. I don't have any children yet, but from my peers and self-awareness, it has to be impossible to get the required sleep each night. We have to make this 35% of the weekend a priority to maintain all four of the elements of self-care: mental, physical, practical, and social.
Step 2: Friend/Family Time
Allocating time for family and friends should be the first step of planning a perfect weekend. Time with significant others, kids, friends, and other family members should come first. Often, these are the people that we don't pay enough attention to during the work week. We regain time here. The mornings filled with casual coffee or time spent cheering for kids on the soccer field are needed because we are more than teachers, we are members of families. This could start a whole conversation about who we are as teachers and educators, and what that means when we are not in the classroom. Teacher identity talk is one of my favorite conversations to have because we are often cases of lost identity. Teaching is a vocation, a profession, a calling. It does not define us.
When I first looked at the 56%, I just stared at it. It seemed like not enough. I have in my mind the illusion that more than a little bit over half of the time should with family and friends. It almost seemed inadequate. Then I remembered how much I am probably giving my friends and family during the week currently and on the present weekends. Arguably, this number is lower than 56% because I have prioritized other things over this number. This number reminds each of us as teachers the importance of taking care of ourselves first. We can't pour from an empty cup. The other 44% needs to be dedicated to self-care.
Step 3: School Work Time
4/60 hours can be dedicated for working time for school; however, this time varies. I was amazed at how often I scheduled my school time before my time with friends and family. I still am not great at this part. Assign a rough draft? Need to give rough draft feedback accordingly because feedback requires turnover. Feedback becomes meaningless unless it is given in a timely fashion. Yet, what do we give up in terms of time percentages when we make sure this feedback gets done quickly? This is part of my writing teacher mindset that I revisit often. There has to be a balance between what I am assigning and the time spent grading. I have often said that the outside of the classroom work time would be the reason I would leave teaching. It still is. However, I have to and am finding ways to make this more manageable.
This planning time also applies to personal preference. Some teachers I know work on Fridays right after they get home to get it out of the way. Some work on Saturday to make a work-weekend sandwich. Others, like me, work on Sundays so they have some downtime before they jump into working. Whatever day or time slots you choose, make sure it works with you and your personal life. For me, Sundays are perfect because my significant other is watching football. While I sometimes watch, I find this is a perfect time to send off those lesson plans and figure out the week ahead. I took a great tip from Angela Watson's podcast. Pick a time-frame. I chose four hours. Then, stick to it. No matter what. It will be okay if all the tasks did not get accomplished in that amount of time.
Step 4: Weekend Workout Warrior Time
1/60 hours can be spent releasing pent up physical energy and working out. I rounded up to a full 2% even though it is technically 1.7%. This one always hits home the most because I have the hardest time with physical fitness. I have started to focus on this more, but I can't brag about any progress yet. I am an infamous starter and then quitter when it comes to physically taking care of myself. I am starting small doing 30 minutes each day, or 1 hour on one day. Doing one mile is better than no miles...even if I walk. My goal is to do something for my body at least five times a week. This can be yoga, a barre class, or simply playing with the dog more outside. I have to make time, and apparently, it isn't that much considering 2% doesn't seem very high.
I cannot tell you the amount of times I have reflected on a Sunday night and asked, "Where did the weekend go?" Weeks go by like this. Then, I find myself sick for weeks at a time at school and entering a lack of sleep/sick cycle because I am not taking enough time to invest in my physical body. This area is more than a gimmick; it is a way to maintain ourselves like sleeping that has an impact in all areas of our lives. it somehow is always the first thing we sacrifice when it comes to taking care of ourselves.
Step 5: Reflection/Creativity Time
1/60 hours can be dedicated to reflection or boosting creativity. I like to put this on the end of lesson planning or school work, but this is also a time where you can participate in a hobby. I recently have taken up bullet journaling where I can plan out and reflect on where I have been in the past few days, weeks, and months. Many things count as time for just for you during this 2% of your weekend including Pinterest, Journaling, Reading, Coloring, Mindfulness Apps, and more. This 2% is dedicated to your mental self-care. Our mindset impacts how we approach each day in the classroom, and it influences what we have leftover on the weekend.
Writing Mindset Reflection: How do you plan your weekend? How do you balance school work and home life? How do you find the time?