Less Stress: Only Work At Work

hard-workEach morning when I come into the band hall, there are always a handful of students who come to drop off their instruments before school. Often they will come in and stand around talking. Because our custodian runs the vacuum each day and doesn’t fix the chairs after he finishes, the entire classroom has to be set up each day. I would prefer that they either practice their instruments or leave, but my coworker wants his students to come in and socialize or whatever. Since he gets to school later than I do, I have come up with a plan that works. I tell them to find something productive to do. That could be setting up chairs and stands, practicing, or homework. Standing at the door and greeting other students isn’t in the job description.

I tell this story for a reason. It is indicative of the approach many people take with their jobs. I am of the opinion that when I am on the clock, I am responsible for using my employers money as efficiently and effectively as possible. To that end, I don’t watch YouTube videos or check online news sites (except for occasional weather news) or read my personal email or even pass along forwarded emails. I view that as stealing time and resources from the school district.

That may come across as a bit harsh, but it keeps me focused while I am at work. When do I set time for personal things? I try to do those things outside of the work day entirely, but if I have to it is during my lunch or conference periods. It’s amazing to me how much more work I get done when I spend my time at work actually working rather than loafing around. :)

I’m not going to sit here and say that I never pay bills from school or make personal phone calls, but those are severely limited, and only when I feel they are appropriate. Again, as with many things I have discussed this month, the key to doing things is that of being in control. One example:

Last year, one of my former students was in a severe car accident. The family and everyone in contact with them were between 6 and 10 hours away. I had notified friends from my church here as well as my church back home to let them know and for them to pray for her. There were a few days when I kept my cell phone with me and took calls during class so I could stay on top of the latest updates and let other people know.

About Joel Wagner 522 Articles
Joel Wagner (@sywtt) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. So You Want To Teach? is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.

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