Resting can be hard! We’re made as humans who need rest, and yet we find it so hard to get out of a culture of busyness and obligations – and never more so than on placement!
This can be particularly hard at certain times, for instance when the marking load is suddenly very high at the end of a term, or when parents evening season hits. So in this article I want to give you three short tips for how to balance work, rest and play whilst on a teaching placement
We are made to work hard
Even before the fall, there was work. Adam was put in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. Work in itself is good. And God has commanded us to work in all things as if working for the Lord and not for man.
So work hard. Be the Joseph in your staff room, where because you work hard, people look well on you, people trust you and rely on you. Teaching is a brilliant and important career – remind yourself that you’re getting this incredible privilege of teaching young people. God has put you in a position of responsibility and given you important work to do!
Take your work seriously, and work hard at it, because your purpose is so much greater than impressing your course tutor or getting a good grade, it is serving the Lord of Heaven and Earth in a role he has given to you. And in this way you will be a witness to those around you.
We are made to need rest
Having said this, we have to accept that we also need rest. When you’re working hard in teaching it’s always going to feel like you could do a bit more. It’s important to accept that there will always be more work that you could do.
Whether it’s a better wall display that you could make, more time you could spend on your lesson planning, or marking your books more closely. And even after that there’s always more research you could be doing into new teaching techniques and there’s always more teachers blogs you could read.
We all know, our work will never be done. You don’t have a job where you go home at 5pm and leave your work in the office. You need to decide where it finishes.
One of the most helpful things I was told in school, is you are the most expensive and most important resource in the classroom. And if you’ve been to bed at 4am because you had to stay up finishing your marking, then you will not be giving the best you can. The kids will benefit more from an awake, happy version of you, than they will from a tired and frustrated you who has a better planned lesson.
God made us in a particular way that shows that we are not God. We need food, and we need sleep, and by accepting this we declare that we are not God, that we are not trying to be God, but that we are dependent on a King that gives rest to his people.
On your placement, the likelihood is that either teachers in your school, tutors on your course, or your own conscience / fears, will at times make you feel like you should be able to do everything. You will probably be asked to work more than you have capacity for, and the idea of having a sabbath rest might seem unthinkable at times.
But the sabbath rest is an incredible gift from God – He commands us to take a day off once a week. Our belief in God frees us to admit that we are not invincible, we are not superheroes, and we need rest. I don’t know what having a sabbath is going to look like for you, I’d encourage you to pray about that yourselves and work that out, remembering that the best way to serve your teaching well is to look after yourself, just as much as it’s to look after your lesson plans.
We are made to have abundant life
Jesus said 'I have come that you may have life and have it in abundance' (John 10:10).
If you’d told me that whilst I was on placement I’d have thought you were crazy. Abundant life feels like the complete opposite of life on placement. But Jesus doesn’t put in a caveat to say that he’s not talking about teachers! And nor do we believe God is not powerful enough to give us this despite our circumstances. And so it’s good for us to know that even on placement, we are free to enjoy our life.
It is important for us to work hard, and it is important for us to rest properly. And it’s also important for us to recharge in an emotional sense as well. It’s not going to look the same as time in University. We shouldn’t expect to be out with friends every night or having every weekend off. But it is important to take a chance to enjoy ourselves as well. And rejoice, when we take time out, when we spend time with friends, when we go to the cinema, we do all this for the glory of God as well.