• Wellbeing for Educators and Leaders in Learning

Is Anyone Actually Leaving Work At Work?

The year 2020 has ended up being completely different to what any of us thought it would look like. For me, amidst all the struggle and uncertainty was an unexpected positive: writing and self-publishing a book, something I hadn’t planned on doing at all before this year! Working on this project really helped my wellbeing during lockdown: I had small achievable goals I could tick off each day; I could see something moving forward when it looked like most things were standing still; and I had something that was just for me, rather than for work or for my family.

Ultimately, I also hoped it would help other people; that succinctly sharing practical strategies which had helped me drastically improve my work/life balance would help others do the same. The initial feedback from my “editor” (a.k.a. my friend Susie from church, who also did Teach First’s programme the same year as me) was great: she said it was “fantastic”, that it “has such a good heart to it” and that it “could have such an impact if read by others”. She added that she planned to use it with the trainee teacher that she was mentoring too! And soon after it was published, the Headteacher who I worked under during the first two years of my teaching career texted to say she’d come across the book, loved it, and had started reading through it in staff meetings - not only with her colleagues but with staff working across their Multi-Academy Trust too! Very exciting.

Since it was released, 58 people have bought the book, and so far every review on Amazon has been 5 stars. And recently, a connection on Twitter has written a blog post describing my book as a “brilliant resource” which, after reading it twice with “excitement, happiness and eagerness”, has helped her “work/home/life balance [to] improve dramatically”, specifically in relation to the emotional and mental workload of teaching.

It did seem like my book has been well-received, but recently I wondered, what real changes has it actually helped people to make in practice? I caught up with a couple of people who have read “Leaving Work At Work” to find out what had changed: Susie, a primary school teacher (and my editor), and Maria who has been teaching for over 20 years.

* * *

1. What did you first think about “Leaving Work At Work” when you heard about it?

Susie: That it had potential to be crucial CPD that might benefit staff wellbeing and efficiency.

Maria: I wondered if there could be some good tips for the experienced teacher, as well as those new to the profession.

2. What struck you the most as you read it?

Susie: The numerous practical ways in which you can change your working style for the better.

Maria: How manageable it was to read. It's great for NQTs and colleagues early on in their career. I've been teaching a while and found the content really helpful, especially section 3 (remembering something positive) and section 4 (the invisible work thief).

3. How quickly were you able to see a change afterwards?

Susie: Within the following weeks.

Maria: Pretty quick. I always like to finish tasks at the detriment of my life/work balance, so this helped me to see that an unfinished task wasn't a fail but was ok, as I had finished my work time. [Two days after reading the book, Maria sent me a message saying: "Gave myself a cut off point today and actually stopped!"]

4. Tell me something the book highlighted for you that you know you’d still like to improve.

Susie: Delegating well to fellow colleagues and trusting their capabilities, and the need for a whole school approach with the whole of SLT working towards the same goal of "leaving work at work".

Maria: Not working from home. As teachers we often end up doing it because there isn't enough work time, but working in the evenings makes our job unmanageable in the next working day.

5. What would you say to someone thinking of buying it?

Susie: As you read it, put bookmarks and post-it notes in the parts which ring true or that you want to implement. Then read it again and again as you work through the term.

Maria: Do it!

* * *

So, has this book been a magical formula helping these people leave all their work at work? No, but it’s helped them get a lot closer, leaving them more time and energy for what matters in their evenings and weekends. Why not check it out yourself? I’d love to hear how it’s helped you too.

* * *

Book: You can buy “Leaving Work At Work” here for just £5: amzn.to/2Y56jbk

Blog: You can read @MrsNumberNerd’s full review of the book, mentioned above, at: www.educatingcharlie.co.uk/post/investing-in-myself

Twitter: You can follow Susie at @SusieCharlton1 and Maria at @CreativityMrs.

Review: If you’ve bought the book, please do leave a short review at amzn.to/2Y56jbk; I would love to hear what’s helped you, and what I could do better!


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