The most important skill a teacher must have is balance.
There is no way any full time teacher (in Singapore, at least) will be able to spend 100% of his/her time on teaching. In fact, he’d be lucky if he could spend 80% of time just preparing for lessons and improving his pedagogy. The fact of the matter is that we will never be able to spend as much time as we want to on our lessons and our classroom time. Part of it is due to our administrative load, but part of it is also because the amount of time we can spend on a lesson is without limit. It doesn’t just end at the point of completing the lesson plan. After that comes the actual teaching material then the refinement and the slides and other ‘strategies’ we want to use to engage others…
Is there more that I could have done this year for my students? Yes indeed. But I believe I gave them enough, based on what the other things I had to balance during the course of the year.
I’ve been freed up lately to spend more time with my student leaders and I’ve enjoyed the wealth of time I have to mentor them, to develop materials to help them grow, to sit down and talk to them. Part of me is so excited about what I’m doing and my brain keeps moving ahead of myself to what I could do in the year ahead for them. But I know when the next academic year comes around, I might not be able to give them as much as I’m giving now because of other things I have to do.
Every responsibility we get in our job as teachers can be a full time job in itself. Just being a teacher in charge of a CCA or a teacher of a subject can both be full time jobs and that’s why burn out is so often experienced when I try to be ‘full time’ on both. I need to learn to have the wisdom to know how to prioritize and to take care of myself, such that my energies are maximised to benefit my students.