It’s no surprise that many teachers struggle with making priorities.
You want to make an impact in the classroom, and show up for your family in a meaningful way.
But figuring out the boundaries between the two can be difficult.
When I was a first-year teacher, I was constantly bringing work home.
So much so that by the time the year ended, I felt like I had neglected my family and felt exhausted.
I wasn’t able to effectively prioritize the items on my to-do list, so I always felt like I was drowning in work.
I also had a hard time prioritizing things in my home life over my job.
If this sounds like you, you are not alone.
In fact, 4 in 10 teachers quit the profession in the first 5 years because of the work conditions.
So today we are going to talk about why teachers struggle with making priorities and how to fix that.
We are going to cover:
- What are priorities?
- Why are priorities important?
- Why do so many teachers struggle with making priorities?
So let’s get started!
What are Priorities?
According to vocabulary.com, “A priority is the concern, interest or desire that comes before all others.”
In other words, priorities are the things that you hold of value or concern above everything else.
Some examples of priorities are:
Priorities are the things that you find more urgent or important than other things.
Why are Priorities Important?
Priorities are important for several reasons.
For instance, priorities allow you to define which things in your life matter most.
These priorities are your guide and something you can refer back to when you need to make a decision.
By taking a moment to pause and reflect on your priorities, you are allowing yourself the freedom to see what truly matters in life.
This is especially true for teachers who have a long to-do list.
At first, it can seem like everything on your to-do list has to get done right now.
But when you take a step back and reflect, you can prioritize what needs to get done and what can wait.
Priorities are the building blocks to identifying what is important to you so that you can create boundaries that will keep your priorities consistent.
Without priorities, it can feel like you are always overwhelmed and swimming in things to do.
So let’s take a look at why teachers struggle with making priorities (and being consistent with them).
Why Teachers Struggle with Making Priorities
Teachers struggle with making priorities (and sticking with them) for several reasons. Including the following:
Hard to Say “No”
In general, educators care about their students and their performance as an educator.
It’s no surprise then that some teachers have a hard time saying “no.”
The reason many teachers have a hard time saying “no” is because they feel like it is selfish to put their needs first.
Some teachers may feel like they cannot be successful teachers without compromising their priorities and boundaries.
But the reality is, this is simply not true.
In fact, having a clear set of priorities and boundaries will help you feel more energized and in control of your life.
Which in turn allows you to show up as the educator you always knew you could be.
Want to Do it All
Let’s be honest, teachers have that natural hustle mentality.
Teachers will work hard and give everything they got for success.
One of the flaws to this mentality, however, is not being able to stop when you should.
There are all sorts of things teachers are told that they “should” be doing.
- Have Instagram-worthy classrooms and bulletin boards.
- Being readily available to families even after office hours.
- Cute crafts that will keep students engaged.
But if we are being honest, these expectations aren’t realistic.
In fact, I have a secret to share with you…
Are you ready?
You can’t do it all!
That’s right! No matter how many times you write things down on your to-do list, you will never get all of them done (or rarely will). A
And you know what, that’s okay! Getting all your to-do list things done doesn’t make you a good teacher.
How you show up for your students does.
So girl I see you and listen to me.
Stop trying to do it all!
You are perfect the way you are and you don’t need to do it all. Make some priorities and stick to them.
One of the biggest reasons why teachers struggle with making priorities is that they want everything perfect.
While you may have priorities in place, it can feel nearly impossible to be consistent with them because you are always chasing perfection.
Let me tell you, I have been there and it is not fun.
Done is better than perfect.
The reality is you don’t expect perfection from your students, so why do you expect it from yourself?
Your students aren’t going to notice if you did that perfectly. So choose your battles and prioritize the things that really matter to you.
Make sure to look at the big picture!
Not Knowing the Difference Between Priorities and Boundaries
I know that a lot of people use priorities and boundaries interchangeably.
But there is a difference and I feel like it contributes to why teachers struggle with making priorities.
Priorities are the things that matter most to you. Whereas boundaries are the walls that protect the things that matter most to you.
For example, let’s say your priority is to spend quality time with your family.
Now that you have that priority in place, what are some boundaries you can set in place that help support that priority?
Some examples could be:
- Leaving work at a set time.
- Not taking work home with you.
- Turning off work notifications when you get home.
You won’t believe how freeing it can be once you have a clear set of boundaries and priorities in your life.
If you want to learn more about boundaries, read this post where I describe what boundaries are, why they are important, and some misconceptions about them.
Not Setting Priorities Ahead of Time
Not setting priorities before you need them is like prepping for a lesson as you teach.
It doesn’t work.
That’s why so many teachers struggle to make priorities. They don’t take the time to sit down and write them out.
So if this sounds like you, that’s fine! Do this exercise to get clear about your boundaries:
- Get a piece of paper out and write down all the things that matter in your life.
- Now rate those items from most important to least important.
- Keep this where you can refer to it and reflect on it often.
By setting priorities out ahead of time, you are taking control of your life and are prepared to answer when things jeopardize your priorities.
- The Golden Rule for How to Engage Students in Learning
- 5 Powerful Student Engagement Strategies for In-Person Learning
- Do You Know Why Teachers Struggle With Making Priorities?
Putting it All Together
Thank you so much for reading this post. I hope you found it helpful!
Today we talked about:
- What priorities are
- Why priorities are important
- Why so many teachers struggle with priorities
Now that you have a clear path to setting priorities in your life, head over to my teacher self-care membership waitlist.
In this membership you will learn how to:
- Make priorities and be consistent with them.
- Make boundaries and be consistent with them.
- Figure out what self-care is right for your schedule.
- Make a self-care plan that is right for you.
- Connect with like-minded people with accountability groups.
I know you are going to love this membership, and I can’t wait to see you there.