We've reached the halfway point...you've nearly reached the summit!

"Balance is not better time management, but better boundary managemant. Balance means making choices and enjoying them."   – Betsy Jacobson
Do your batteries feel drained? As you climb towards the final days of term, feel proud of everything you and your students have achieved. As the going gets tough, remember to take care of Number 1! An easy thing to say, but too often missed. We've worked hard enough without punishing ourselves further by forgetting simple personal treats and care. As I type this post for you, even though I'm excited to write it, I myself have reached the point of no return and my hair has not seen a good day for about two weeks! Albeit with my curly locks, working in Malaysia with the intense 30 Degree heat, doesn't make it easier. Frizz, frizz and more frizz! Some of the tasks completed by myself in the last 3 weeks are as follows; Class Residential, Residential Assembly performance, Whole School Art Exhibition, Reports, Parent-teacher interviews, profile meetings, sports day and that's on top of every-day teaching and assessment! I know you are working through a very similar list as we speak...so WELL DONE!! We've nearly made it to the Easter Break!!

Below are some key tricks and tips I've found for myself to help me maintain a healthy work-life balance. Even though this list may seem obvious, I am too guilty of not following these basic routines!! Take a look...

A happy & healthy teacher 
a happy & buzzing classroom! 

12 Survival Tips

1.                  Drink water and plenty of it! Have a large glass of water as soon as you wake up, take a hot shower and then drink another glass of water. Dehydration is the main culprit for battery drainage.
2.                  Try simple yoga body stretches for 10 - 15 mins twice a day. Make morning and just before bed your routine ritual. I don't mean, go out any by all the yoga accessories, you can do simple movements on the floor or even still on your bed!
3.                  Eat a hearty breakfast and that means every food group if possible! 2 slices of toast just doesn't cut it. Also drink orange juice with your multivitamins and a Ginseng tablet for an extra boost.
4.                  Drink Green Tea and as much as you want. Sure if you like normal tea or coffee, I'm not saying don't drink what you prefer, but for cleansing your body and making you actually feel much better, Green Tea works wonders. 
5.                  Always pack a great lunch with enough snacks for school. This is my worst downfall! Beat the 3pms by eating something at every break-time, lunchtime and again in the afternoon. Keep your sugar levels constant to avoid slumps at work. 
6.                  As soon as the children leave your classroom and you remain at your desk for the next two hours marking, put on some music! The children aren't there so feel free to play what you like. 
7.                  Only do something once! A past Headteacher once said, 'if you are duplicating assessments, lesson slides etc...ask yourself why?' One key and very simple strategy I kept forgetting to do was simply to save all of my lesson slides under a detailed file name >>> Objective, Block, Unit, Subject, year group + DATE. It sounds like a task having to put so much effort and detail into a file-name, but when you repeat the same topic in the future (which you will), all you have to do is find it, add to it and edit. I spent years saving all my files just under the lesson subject, which I then had to store into a folder, which I had to store into another folder etc etc. I thought because all my files were organised, I was organised! Actually, it was a huge mess. I had just covered it up by creating a new folder. 
8.                  After a lesson has finished, ask your children to stack their books open on their current working page. I saved what feels like hours of marking time because I wasn't spending the whole time taking books out of trays and endlessly flicking through pages to find their piece of work. Simple I know, but amazingly effective! 
9.                  Get your children to do it! Obviously, this tip comes with constraints...there could be age restrictions, but most of the time, children are more than capable. I often see peers cutting out & backing work, writing out labels and sharpening pencils! The truth be told, I never do these tasks. Children should be given the opportunity to take ownership for as much as possible. I say, show them the scissors and use your TA (if you have one) for something else! The same rule applies to tidying the classroom. If they mess it up, they'll be spending time cleaning it up! This way of thinking works wonders because the children very quickly realise how much cleaning and tidying sucks, so they generally have a better, more organised working attitude whilst you sit back and offer house points to your best cleaners! 
10.               Self-Assessment is a godsend! One element required for the success of individual learning progress is for the children to take part in their own assessment. Again, this can only be carried out where possible, but an organised system for this does cut your marking work load. 

My key tips for marking are: 
·                     Train the children to use highlighters for key vocabulary. This way when you are marking what feels like hundreds of books for hours, the highlighters really help you to find and access their language use quickly. It also shows you if they really know what a verb is! 
·                     Share with a friend - read to a friend, does it make sense? Have their partner write a feedback comment (a numbered score out of 10 for enjoyment is quick and easy).
·                     Where possible, display the correct answers and have them mark their own or a test. This way they get instant feedback about their success and instant verbal feedback from you. 
·                     Use stamps to highlight Beginning, Developing or Mastering. Stamps are visually pleasing and do the job instead of a comment. 
·                     Always add next steps to a piece of work...but do you have to write this next step 25 times? Print out your next steps on mini stickers using word formatted to A4 sticker sheets and wack them into the books! Hey presto!! 

11. Scheduling your time and routine is crucial, but are you scheduling your FREE time??? If you look inside your diary...how much of it are slots for friends, family, evenings out, alone time etc? Are you even keeping a personally diary of time? Work schedules and deadlines are one thing...but updating your personal diary for the week is a great way to spend your 10-15 minute breaks in the staff room! Get your personal planner out!

12. Finally during your FREE time slots, do whatever floats your boat and makes you happy! Personally, I'm happy lying by the pool, writing blogs, reading, sipping soda water with lemon and ice and doing absolutely nothing! But that's me...what do you like to do in your free time? 

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