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June 1, 2018
Vol. 75
No. 9

Always Find Time for Family

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    Stories and advice from school veterans on maintaining your spirit and your perspective in a challenging profession.

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    School Culture
      I began teaching high school English when I was 23, and I couldn't believe how much take-home work was involved. Fast-forward 10 years later: I was still a high school English teacher, but now had two small children, ages 1 and 3, and I suddenly found my job impossible.
      It was around this time that I got some advice from a veteran teacher, friend, and fellow mom. She told me: Never take any work home. Her unapologetic approach to guarding her family time helped me find the courage to try it.
      I started by taking my work email account off my phone. Next, I used my prep time more strategically at work to grade and plan rather than socialize with colleagues. On Fridays, I often stayed late at work to finish prepping the following week, so it was done and written down in my planner and I wasn't worried about it on the weekend. Sometimes I would stay as late as 8 p.m. while my husband picked up the kids, made them dinner, and put them to bed. While this was not how I wanted to spend my Friday evenings, it was the best way for me to buy myself the whole rest of the weekend and spend the following week free of stress and worry.
      I never once thought about school while at home. I was free to enjoy the rest of my weekend and all the following work nights the way I wanted to: taking my kids to the park or pool, reading to them before bed, having long dinner conversations with my husband, or reading a book. Now that my kids are older, we spend even more quality time together. Evenings never seem a chore anymore thanks to my learned commitment to leave work at work.

      Figure

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      Alexis Wiggins never takes work home with her so she can spend time with her husband and two children, Amadeo (left) and Elios (right). Photo by Abdullah Al Mahanna

      Alexis Wiggins has worked as a high-school English teacher, instructional coach, and consultant for curriculum and assessment. Her book, The Best Class You Never Taught: How Spider Web Discussion Can Turn Students into Learning Leaders (ASCD), helps transform classrooms through collaborative inquiry. Alexis is currently the Curriculum Coordinator at The John Cooper School in The Woodlands, TX.

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