Too Much, Too Little Or Just Right: Teachers Manage Work Boundaries

March 8, 2023


Sutton Inouye

History Department Chair Carmen Borbón regrets the “workaholic” attitude and demeanor she’s had in the past. Staff illustration: Sutton Inouye

Dedicated teachers working with passionate students can often result in a healthy learning environment. At the same time, this dynamic may force teachers to prioritize work over their life outside of the classroom, disrupting the balance between their job and personal life.

History Department Chair Carmen Borbón regrets the “workaholic” attitude and demeanor she’s had in the past. “When my son was still in high school, I was never able to attend any of his [basketball] games or anything like that. […] It was really difficult for me to fulfill all my responsibilities [at Menlo] at the same time,” Borbón said.

Borbón still struggles to find time for her life outside of school and often misses social events with friends. “[Working too much] does sort of get in the way of my personal life,” Borbón said. “That’s something I’m working on, to say no to [obligations] more often because it’s not healthy.”

History teacher Katina Ballantyne agrees with Borbón that allotting time for both daily life activities and school tasks can be difficult. “I think it can be hard to draw those boundaries,” Ballantyne said. “I have this long list of things I need to do. I need to [go] grocery shop, I need to do laundry.”

Ballantyne recognizes that students can sometimes play a part in detracting from her personal time outside of school. For Ballantyne, replying to students’ emails over the weekend can take away a lot from her free time, especially when they could have emailed her much earlier in the week. 

Despite poorly timed emails, Ballantyne still believes that her students are mindful and respectful of her schedule. “Most of my students have been understanding about [my personal time],” she said. Ballantyne also understands that the student-teacher relationship goes both ways – a teacher shouldn’t request for a student to complete a task that disrupts their personal time.

Physics and biology teacher Nina Arnberg also appreciates the effort made by the Menlo administration to combat teacher burnout. “Menlo administration has hired amazingly dedicated faculty and has done a good job of protecting our time. Being aware of when and why we hold meetings helps faculty collaborate while also keeping time for us to directly support students,” Arnberg said.

Ballantyne is similarly grateful for the administration’s consideration of her time. “I think that, here at Menlo, our administration is very understanding about needing to take a step back from things and making sure like, ‘Okay, wow, I think you’re wearing a lot of hats. How do we narrow this down for you? How do we make your work life balance sustainable?’” she said. “They don’t want teachers to burn out.”

Creative Arts and Drama Director Steven Minning is a member of both the senior administration team and the creative arts department faculty and is happy with how each respective group works closely together and supports one another. According to Minning, being in a group with common goals brings a natural flow of sensitivity and empathy. 

In Minning’s experience, stress among teachers is relatively well-handled at Menlo. “School is a lot, but it’s not too much,” he said.

Leave a Comment
About the Contributor
Photo of Lucas Kawamoto
Lucas Kawamoto, Assistant A&L Editor

Number of years in The Coat of Arms: 2

Favorite aspect of journalism: Writing features!

Interests outside of school: Swimming, entrepreneurship, creative writing, watching tv and basketball.

Class of 2026

The Coat of Arms • Copyright 2024 • FLEX WordPress Theme by SNOLog in

Comments (0)

The Coat of Arms encourages dialogue with our audience. We welcome constructive comments that avoid slander, hate, profanity and misinformation. In an effort to give voice to a variety of perspectives, anonymous comments will be considered, but signed comments are preferred. If you would like to submit an anonymous comment, please write "Anonymous" in the "Name" field below. While a valid email address is required, The Coat of Arms will not publish your email address. The Editorial Board will review comments and decide whether they will be put online; the editors reserve the right to edit for concision.
All The Coat of Arms Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *