We set out six rules of the game.
Chat up just about any educator about a 40-hour workweek, and they’ll likely laugh in your face. But what about the huge group of teachers that doubles as coaches, going straight from classroom to playing field every day for at least one season a year?
While coaching student athletes is incredibly rewarding, it is a gig that demands immense time and energy. Here’s our gameplan for keeping healthy, sane, and driven — both in class and on the field or court.
Rule No. 1: Set priorities.
In the midst of a busy practice and game schedule, it’s easy to skew your priorities. Though both of your roles are meaningful, remember that your most important work is in the classroom. Treat academic teaching as your professional tier one, and it’ll reduce overall stress, leaving you clearheaded to coach.
Rule No. 2: Steer clear of burnout.
Flipping the switch from teacher to coach and giving 200 percent each day can leave you open for attack if you don’t take care of yourself. Avoid a crashing immune system and collapsing sanity by setting boundaries. Get enough sleep, eat a nutritious diet, keep specific office hours in your classroom, and carve out untouchable time for loved ones.
Rule No. 3: Budget your time.
Gear up your time management skills. Create checklists and schedules — and stick to them as best you can. If you’ve got volunteers or a teacher’s assistant to help, use them to set up, organize, and make copies. If you don’t, send out a sign up sheet. Take opportunities like bus rides to keep up with work. A mobile device can be a grader and email-checker’s best friend. New hack: Connect to your cell phone’s hotspot to get work done during travel or downtime.
Rule No. 4: Delegate responsibilities.
Take work off your shoulders by having students organize and clean during the last minutes of the day and athletes set up equipment for practices and games. Think of ways you can shave minutes here and there so that you have hassle-free time for a snack, a phone call home, or a change of clothes.
Rule No. 5: You have a prep to protect.
When every day holds the promise of papers to grade, lessons to plan, busses to schedule, and parent concerns to answer, you have to squeeze every second out of your prep period. Avoid possible time and energy traps like the teacher’s lounge or a gossipy meet-up with a coworker. Be intentional; set your mind to what you will complete in that time frame and reward yourself by crossing items off your list.
Rule No. 6: Say no when you need to.
Underneath all the bells and whistles, you are both a teacher and a coach because you are committed to helping young people succeed in all areas of life. But you can’t take on the whole world — at least not all in one season. You may need to turn down obligations and deter opportunities for a later time, and that’s admirable and proactive. For a lot of us, saying “no” is truly difficult. But, considering the future difficulties you will face with an overflowing plate should help you keep your focus.
Teacher coaches, you leave your fans — the rest of the community — in awe. Keep coming out on top by setting the right plays in your jam-packed life. We’re rooting for you.