Go to your local high school basketball or football game, track or swim meet and you will see coaches that have the day job of being a teacher. Many of them teach high school, however you find coaches at the middle and elementary levels too.
Most people recognize that a teacher’s life is hectic, but why do so many teachers also take on the additional task of coaching? According to Dr. Christopher Saffici in Teaching & Coaching: The Challenges and Conflicts of Dual Roles “over forty percent of full time high school teachers have some type of coaching responsibility”. This paper also identifies 4 types of professionals: coach, coach/teacher, teacher/coach, and teacher. As teachers, I would hope that all teachers that coach are shooting for the teach/coach position. This means that teaching is their top priority and coaching is secondary. I am aware this is not the case for all teachers that coach, however, the primary focus of being a teacher is to be a teacher. This is not to understate how much teaching happens at practice and competitions.
So how do teachers that coach find balance between their professional (teaching and coaching) lives and their personal lives? Here are some straight forward ideas to help you balance the both roles effectively:
- Put your phone and computer away. Most teacher/coaches get bombarded with information all moments of the day through their computer and smartphones. They get information from colleagues, administration, parents, other coaches, and athletes. Take time everyday to disconnect. You can check your notifications in the morning!
- Remember your priorities. Make a list of what is important to you. If you find yourself moving these things to the backburner often, revisit your list and make time for those things. This might mean scheduling a date night, family dinner, a weekend getaway, time to meditate, or just a morning to sleep in.
- Say NO. As a teacher/coach you devote large amounts of time to our students and athletes. Your willingness to help often makes you one of the first people to get asked to do “extra”. Don’t feel guilty for politely saying no sometimes. The people asking should respect you for making that decision.
- Take time to talk about your often stressful and hectic life. You might enter the conversation with a negative tone, however try to leave the conversation with a more positive mindset. Find people that are in similar situations or close friends and family so that you have an honest dialogue. Talking about the pressures and time commitments of being a teacher/coach can be very therapeutic.
- Make time for yourself. There will be times when you find yourself rundown. Take time to do something that brings you joy. Revisit that hobby you haven’t had time for or read a book. This is one of the most difficult things to do because you will have to train yourself to not think about all the things you think you should be doing and really devote time to your mental and/or physical well being.
Finding balance for many people is difficult, but it is not impossible. You will have to work at it. You will have to take time to recognize that you may need to take a step back. As a teacher/coach you are most valuable to your students, athletes and yourself when you are mentally and physically healthy. What are some strategies you have to help balance your professional and personal lives?