Find a quiet place, take a few relaxing breaths, and read Lisa Bush’s new book on how to find balance in your hectic life as a classroom teacher, and get better results from your students.
In our increasingly complex world, we find increasingly complex classrooms. Teachers spend countless hours creating and assessing content, completing paperwork, and organizing extracurricular activities. This is added to their own home life responsibilities as parents, spouses, and children of aging parents. Many teachers, often those in the early part of their career, find the workload (especially the marking) overwhelming.
In Teaching Well, Lisa Bush sets out logical steps to help teachers move from surviving in the classroom to thriving in their career. Bush argues that as workload increases, it is often the things that recharge us that are the first to go: exercising, eating right and enjoying a hobby are dropped because a test needs to be graded or emails have to be answered. Bush offers clear, practical ideas to help teachers find the balance between work and life. Next, she asks the reader to critically look around. Look for teacher allies to collaborate with. Look to change assignments from seatwork to tasks that will empower students to become experts. Finally, look at how preparation and after-school time could be organized and optimized more effectively so that there is less to take home, and a chance to refresh and recharge after the workday.
Teaching Well asks busy teachers to slow down and examine what they are doing. We know that students do better when allowed to reflect. Teachers, too, do better when they can free up time and allow creativity to flourish.
In the end, one question confounded this reviewer. Who will read this book? The teachers who should read it are drowning in their workload and may not recognize the need, and the teachers who have found the secret to teaching well already know many of Bush’s tips. My conclusion is that teacher leaders, such as a principals, should read this book to help them recognize those on staff who need support – then work with Bush’s ideas to help empower them.
Photo: Dave Donald
First published in Education Canada, December 2019
Pembroke Publishers. 2019 ISBN: 978-1-55138-337-8