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Teachers whose professional responsibilities interfere or encroach into their private lives should learn how de-role.

Tshepiso Matenjie

Just what does “de-roling” mean? Simply put, the concept of de-roling involves being flexible and adaptable. It is about taking off the hat of being a teacher in environments where it is actually not necessary or appropriate for you to play the role of teacher. You need to de-role when you notice that the issues at work infiltrate, contaminate and affect your relationships outside of work. So when is it necessary to de-role? Often there are signals one needs to look out for.

It is time to de-role when:

  • The arguments that took place at work continue to spoil your mood when you return home;
  • Conversations about work continue even when you are not on duty, blurring boundaries and breaking confidentiality;
  • You treat your spouse and children as if they are your learners, who must simply take instruction from you without discussion or negotiation;
  • You create dependence on you because you “know it all”, rather than let your family members learn in their own way, at their own pace and from their own mistakes;
  • When you insist that your way is the right and only way because it works at work, and therefore it should work everywhere; and
  • When you subconsciously mark people “right” or “wrong” with an imaginary red pen or compartmentalise them without allowing space for grey areas.

Ideas on how to de-role:

  • After work, listen to your favourite comedian, music, motivational speaker or radio station that forces out of your work frame of mind;
  • Before entering your house after work, choose to take a walk around the garden, smell the flowers, water them and pick a few that could cheer you up. If you don’t have a garden, buy yourself flowers, just as you buy bread and milk for the family!
  • When you go shopping for bread and milk after work, this time smell the different aromas in the shop: smell the freshly baked rolls, the fruits and the spices;
  • Take a bath with your favourite oils to cleanse yourself of the day’s troubles, and as you wash, imagine that you are washing away all the poison and pain of the day;
  • Ask your spouse to use the air freshener to cleanse the air so that when you enter your home, the smell welcomes you from the gate; and
  • Instead of mulling over what happened at work, use the drive home to plan something special for your loved ones, to surprise them and do something out of the ordinary.

Where things from work trouble you and you struggle to shake them off:

  • Talk to your favourite friend who always cheers you up when you are in a gloomy mood;
  • Get in touch with your inner child, laugh yourself stupid, be spontaneous;
  • Seek and listen to feedback about how you treat people at work and out of work, and then make the choice to engage differently going forward;
  • Acknowledge when your thinking as a teacher limits you out of work;
  • Show empathy, put yourself in the other person’s shoes and try to understand how they feel and why their views may be different from yours;
  • Where possible, find closure on the things that came up at work by talking to trusted colleagues who give you a new perspective on things; and
  • Ask for advice when your way is obviously no longer working in resolving problems.

Matentjie is an educational psychologist and life coach. She can be contacted on tmatent@matentjie.co.za or 011 675-0980 or visit: www.matentjie.co.za



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