It’s pretty convenient to just have your school email go straight to your phone so you can respond to messages while standing in line at the copy machine, or while waiting for the kids to come in from the next class.
To a certain degree, that makes sense, and it’s not a bad use of time. It does keep those emails from building up throughout the day like they tend to do.
BUT!!!! The concept of “live life first, then teach” has THIS to add…
Get in the habit ASAP of switching that email feature on AFTER you have arrived at work each morning.
At the end of the day, BEFORE you walk out of your classroom, switch that feature OFF so you aren’t tempted to even look at it after you leave for the day.
Your time outside those contract hours is your time, and your family’s time, and emails coming through at 8:15 p.m. from a frustrated parent that you can’t really do anything about at that moment anyway, won’t keep you focused on your personal family time.
One thing: If you’re going to be this focused on your personal family time, you need to be just as focused on the school district’s time.
You know there are those people out there just looking for an excuse to point their finger and say that you didn’t return an email at 9:30 Tuesday night, yet you just checked in on Facebook at 3:10 p.m. Wednesday afternoon for your 6:00 haircut appointment.
And sure, you might want to respond that you didn’t have kids in your classroom because of XYZ and it’s not like you were on your phone in front of them and besides, it’s YOUR phone and you were using YOUR personal data plan, but still. Don’t set yourself up for unnecessary ridicule, and don’t make yourself an easy target in that way.
Just don’t do it.
Save it for an emergency. Your health and your family’s health are understandable reasons to have to break away from the classroom, but that’s pretty much it.
Likewise, there may be something going on once in a while with a student or a parent to where you really do want or need to check in with them on your personal time. But choose these situations sparingly and with intention so that work does not overwhelm you at home.
It’s important to separate your personal and professional duties by focusing on the professional things during work time and the personal things during personal time. By doing that, you’re living and working guilt-free and it’s a huge relief to know that you’re doing the right thing with your students at school and with your own time at home.
“What about when (high-maintenance person of your choice) is pissed that I didn’t respond to the email last night?”
Look, you can’t really put a parent’s mind at ease or answer questions from your principal sufficiently without actually being at work in your classroom, anyway.
That’s what your planning/conference time is for. Whatever the question or concern or demand is, you need to be able to access your files, your papers, your student work samples, etc. in order to give the most accurate, informed answer to whomever is asking.
And if anyone is peeved as to why it took you until the next day to respond, that’s exactly what you tell them. It’s the absolute truth, and it’s a logical reason to just wait until your planning period.
It’s perfectly acceptable from an etiquette standpoint to return an email within 24 hours of its sent time. So the parent can wait until the next day when you have your conference time. Your email is there for business purposes, so use it during business times. 8:15 p.m. is family time, not business time.
“What if something important happens and I miss it because I had my stupid email turned off?”
What kind of a world are we living in that we can’t go the length of an evening without the curiosity of work email infringing on our personal time? Choose to not worry about it!
On the very rare off-chance that something crazy happens overnight like a busted pipe in the school building or a sudden and unexpected ice storm, you would know about it without needing email.
One of your co-worker buddies would text you. Or you’d get a phone call from your “emergency contact” which every school has in the event of bad weather or something. You’d see it on the news. So you’ll still know if something major happens.
It’ll be fine. It’s worth the tiny risk just to have your personal time back each evening without some email weighing on your mind.
Here’s the takeaway of all this:
When you work hard each day and you don’t go to work playing around on Facebook, or shopping online at Amazon, or making unnecessary personal calls and texts, then there’s no reason for you to allow something or someone to take away from your personal family time outside of school.
Lesson: You don’t use work time or work resources to do personal things, so don’t use family time and family resources for work things!