December 29, 2015

How to Work Smarter and Keep the Joy in Teaching

If teaching is consuming your life, you need to watch this short video from Angela Watson about finding work/life balance. Finally, someone has practical answers to the question of HOW teachers are supposed to work smarter and not harder!
Can a teacher work a 40 hour week and still do a good job? 

Until recently, I would have said no. In fact, I would have sworn that it wasn't possible. During my 30 years as an elementary educator, my passion for teaching translated into unbelievably long hours, 7 days a week, from August to June. I loved teaching so much that I let it consume almost every minute of my life. Would you believe that I took stacks of papers with me on camping trips because there was never enough time to grade them all during the week?

Work just 40 hours a week and still be a good teacher? Not possible!

I felt guilty about neglecting my family and my own needs, but I couldn't figure out how to reduce my work time and still be effective in the classroom.

Have you heard that the solution is to work smarter, not harder? But NO ONE ever tells you how to do that. At least not until now.

Yesterday I discovered Angela Watson’s 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club, and I watched her video about finding work/life balance. I was hooked in the first 5 seconds! While watching it, I realized a fundamental truth about being a passionate teacher. No matter how much you love teaching, if you FEEL consumed by it, you will eventually BE consumed by it. 

Angela gave me permission to share the video here on my blog, and I want you to watch it now. I'm not exaggerating when I say that the next 2 minutes might just rock your world!

Powerful stuff, isn't it? When I watched it, I felt like Angela was speaking directly to me. In 2 minutes, she challenged my previous assumptions about the need to work day and night to be an effective teacher. I  realized that teachers don't need to work themselves into the ground until their passion for teaching burns out and the joy is gone. 

FINALLY someone has created the tools to help teachers learn how to work smarter! There IS a better way!

One thing I LOVE about the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club is that joining the club gives you access to a private Facebook group that has over 500 members. It's a place where teachers can connect with others who love teaching, but who are overwhelmed by the demands of the profession. Let me be clear that this group is NOT a place to vent about frustrations. Venting never solves anything. Instead, it's a place to discuss the monthly course content, interact with Angela personally, and learn simple hacks that will trim hours from your work week. 

Let's return to the question of whether or not you can work just 40 hours a week and be an effective teacher.

I now believe that it's possible, but only if that's the number of hours YOU want to work each week. 

You see, Angela's club isn't about pressuring members to limit themselves to 40 hours a week. Yes, the "40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club" makes for a catchy title, but Angela understands that many teachers wouldn't choose to limit themselves to 40 hours a week, if they could even figure out how to accomplish that goal. They enjoy working more than 40 hours, but they want to find a work/life balance that feels right. One of your first tasks as a new member will be to objectively determine the number of hours you're currently working and to set your own weekly target number. Your target number might be just a few hours a week less than what you're currently working, but those hours will make an enormous difference. 

If teaching is consuming your life, you need to read this post. Finally, there are answers to the question of HOW teachers are supposed to work smarter (instead of harder) so they can keep the joy in teaching!
There's so much more I could say about the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek club, but I'd rather you click over to Angela's site to get the full details directly from her. Be sure to check it out now because the course is only open to new members 3 times a year. The current membership window closes on January 3rd, and the next open enrollment window isn't until July. (Update: Angela announced on her page that she's leaving the club open until noon EST on January 4th to resolve some glitches in getting people signed up.)

This is a one year program, and the cost of joining is not much more than going to the movies once a month or a few visits to Starbucks. If you're wondering if the cost is worth the investment, you should read the comments on last night's Facebook post. Over a dozen teachers who have already signed up for the club shared why they think it's totally worth the subscription fee. You can pay in monthly or quarterly installments, or skip the recurring charges and pay a one time fee for the full membership. Once your year is up, you will have ongoing access to all the club resources at no further cost. Click here to learn more.

Post Update: The 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club is only open twice a year for new members. The current open enrollment ended on January 3rd. If you'd like to be notified when the club opens again, please sign up for my Candler's Classroom Connections newsletter

I'm a member of the 40 HTW Club now, but I wish I could have joined when I was teaching. My target number would have been higher than 40, but it would have been much lower than the hours I was actually working. The club wasn't an option for me then, but thankfully, it's here for you now! I encourage you to join the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club so you can discover HOW to work smarter so that you can keep the joy in teaching!

P. S. I need to let you know that this post includes affiliate links. However, I would never promote something if I didn’t believe in it 100%. Angela is the creator of The Cornerstone For Teachers blog, and she's amazing. I feel lucky to know Angela personally, and she’s just as inspiring in person as she is in her podcasts and her blog posts. If Angela says she can help you innovate and find a better way, trust me, she can!


  1. The district where I work is doing Work to Rule because we have no contract. It does put tremendous pressure on everyone as we cannot enter the building until 8:15 with the students and must leave at 2:50. You can only work after hours if you are being paid. I have dealt with this by prioritizing everything that I plan and do. Somehow you find a way to do everything. I do like taking my time planning and creating, but without that option, you have no choice but to get "it" all done.

  2. What if the work overload, hence exhaustion isn't coming from the tasks directly related to teaching, but the constant pressures, demands and administrative requirements set by superiors and schoolboards :-(

    1. Anna, the Facebook support group is great for dealing with those issues. Angela provides great management strategies and the members of the group help each other with specific strategies for situations like you describe. Teaching is a tough profession, no doubt about it! Why not try it for a month to see what you think?

  3. Does everyone get aid for 40 hours a week. In Broward county Florida we only get paid for 37.5 hours a week.

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  5. I teach in remote rural India. The pupil are not supposed to come up with any previous knowledge. Naturally this principal is not an effective tool out there.

  6. I almost laughed when I read about taking papers with you on camping trips. That is me to a "T". In fact, my husband takes me camping so that I can relax and grade papers around the campfire. I know that I work way too much, so I am going to look at Angela's site. Thanks for posting this. You touch so many lives in a wonderful way.

    1. Thanks, Elizabeth! I have to admit that I would probably still take papers to grade in the car because I hate being bored and I like to use my time effectively! But not around the campfire! That's s'mores time!

  7. In sri lanka no facilities for all these methods.One teacher for 50 students.3000 in our school. but our teachers work hard Im surprised and impressed about yours development.we are very keen to get your free news letters from normal post and give something more for our innocent primary kids.

  8. Hi Mrs. Candler,
    I have thoroughly enjoyed your website, and feel that you have done an excellent job in helping teachers reduce their workload by sharing your wonderful ideas and strategies for the classroom. Collaborating with fellow teachers and sharing ideas and lessons is a great way to find new and exciting ways to teach.

    Thanks again,


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