Why do we find it so hard to switch off?

I have noticed recently (in myself and in many others) that we as teachers seem to find it extremely difficult to switch off from our jobs.

It’s the weekend at the end of our first week back and many of my PLN are currently at Edu Camp Auckland. Others who aren’t there are sending tweets that pretty much apologise for not being there but promising to check in on the hashtag throughout the day. The recent holidays saw lots of conferences occurring where similar situations happened each time.

Twitter chats bring on the same type of comments. Those heavily involved sharing their ideas throughout the hour, supplemented by those apologising for not being able to make it or for only being able to pop into the chat briefly.


Other teachers in the last break were going on overseas holidays excited at the chance to catch up on educational readings – those books that look like they will help us improve but there was just no time during term. Do other professions take their professional development reading with them on break???

I know my connections online are all extremely committed professionals who not only want to improve their practice but want to help others do the same. I’m also certain that there are thousands of other educators around New Zealand (and possibly millions around the world) who are doing the same things we are.

I am currently looking at taking up some more opportunities to get involved further in the education system and talked last night with my partner about the implications of this for our family. Her response: “it’s what you do.”

Why is it that as educators we find it so hard to switch off from learning, discussing, reflecting etc.?


This post is Day 26 of My Questioning Quest. It was prompted by observations of myself and my PLN plus this awesome post by Brie Jessen-Vaughan on switching off from twitter for 6 weeks and is feeling so refreshed because of it.


4 thoughts on “Why do we find it so hard to switch off?

  1. This is something I’ve often pondered too, Steve. One of the speakers at the http://auckland.girlgeekdinners.com/ spoke about why should we apologise for our passion being our jobs! That there is an obsession with work/life balance but that there are some people who relish their work. If we send emails at 6am or 11pm it’s because we’re thinking about our work. It may be (and often is at pressure point time) because we are feeling overwhelmed with the amount we have to do, but it is also often just because we are passionate about our work and it is our passion. No-one would question you watching a film or playing a game or reading a novel or knitting a scarf at 11pm if that was your passion – so why tweeting/planning/giving feedback to students/colleagues?
    On the other hand, we do also need to recognise when this passion is taking over and something I have learnt since becoming a parent who is also a teacher is that while I strive to be the best I can be and haven’t lost an ounce of my passion for teaching, learning or guiding students, I do need to accept that I, and the resources/marking/planning I work on, can be “good enough”.

  2. Great questions Steve! I’m with Ros on this one. We do it because it is our passion. And we shouldn’t have to apologise for being passionate. I’m starting to wonder if work life balance should be replaced with passion vs. relationships balance – i e. the real balance to maintain is ensuring that pursuing our passions aren’t at the expense of the relationships in our lives – family, friends etc.

  3. I hate that I can’t switch off. I was undergoing LASIK surgery recently and while they burned my corneas I was asking the surgeon if he could take photos for me to show my class. It’s like a chattering undercurrent to everything that I do that can be inspiring but also makes it hard to just relax and enjoy things for their own sake sometimes.

  4. Like you Steve, it is hard to switch off. However I love what I do with teachers and for teachers. Teachers who are in the school building after hours or online or offline after hours, it is who we are. I go to sleep thinking about how to make things better and usually wake with a solution. So even in sleep I do not switch off. Great question.

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