The Importance Of You Time
The other day I was asked a question by a new teacher. She was being expected to allow students who were coming back early from another class to sit with her during her planning period. It was something the students had done before she started teaching there. Should she allow this?
As hard as I understand that it is to say no, I would say to set a new precedence. We all know how exhausting it is to be “on” all day and do the job we have to do. Your planning time is YOUR TIME. It’s the only time you have to be alone (even if just for a few minutes) to get work done and recharge. Sometimes you have to think of yourself first. You give all of yourself to your job every other hour of the day. You need to have time to allow yourself to breathe. You can’t take care of others and do what you need to do if your own cup is empty.
You can’t do your job well if you’re on low battery.
Not to mention, every teacher contractually should be getting some sort of planning time and when there are students in your room, that is not planning. Not to open up a whole other can of worms, but my next question is, why are these students leaving class early? Are their special education needs not being able to be met in their current placement? Is it an issue of not being able to adapt curriculum or differentiating instruction to meet the needs of our special education students? Do they need a quick course on special education lesson planning? Is it behavior? Do you need to have an IEP meeting to discuss? There could be a bigger issue at hand. If they can’t stay in their class, there should be an assistant or someone who can support them so you can get your planning period. Every teacher needs duty free time.
Every teacher needs time to recharge their battery. This is more important than some people realize. It’s not just physical exhaustion that teachers have from working with kids every day. The mental exhaustion is what creeps up on you and if you aren’t aware and taking care of yourself, it’ll one day overwhelm you and you will BURN OUT. I know it may seem overdramatic, but you have to see the bigger picture here and understand how important of an issue this is. The turnover rate of special education teachers is astronomical. Don’t let it happen to you too. It’s okay to think about you first sometimes. Take care of you so you can be the best teacher for your students.