Is it possible to “unplug”?

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Recently, I took some time off to spend with my family. I set up the auto reply feature on my email accounts stating that I was away with my family and I let those whom I have been doing summer work know that I would not be accessible. My mistake is what came next: I still checked my work email. I did not completely unplug. My colleague did unplug her email and when I texted her (a friendly text of “Are you having fun?”), I could tell that she was relaxed because she had not answered any work emails in ten days. I did answer work emails because I was continuously being contacted that I thought my auto reply feature was not working. At one point, a person I barely knew must have gotten so frustrated that I did not answer immediately that she then emailed two professional colleagues of mine and cc me on this email stating that I was not answering her.

Overall, my auto reply was working, but the mistake was mine. I decided to read these emails, which then puts me in the position that if I answer them quickly, then I have less work when I return home. However, that theory never pans out. Is it possible to “unplug”? Essentially, there will always be work waiting for you when you get home, but the time you spend with your family or with yourself, you will never get back. So yes. Unplug and feel good about it. When you return home from work, you will have to set up some extra time to catch up on work, but that can be done.

To recap:

  1. Enjoy the time off.
  2. Treasure the time you are giving yourself or to your family. If you have children, then you know all too well how fast they are growing up.
  3. Put the work emails into a folder so you have them all organized for when you return home.
  4. Set up some extra time when you return home to accomplish the work that was missed while you were away.
  5. Even though there are misinformed people who believe that educators only work 10 months a year, we do work everyday and continuously brainstorm about how to improve our curriculum and classrooms.

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Amy M. Burns is an elementary music educator, clinician, author, and musician. She currently works at Far Hills Country Day School in Far Hills, NJ teaching PreK through Grade 3 general music, grade 5 instrumental music, and grades 4-8 instrumental band. She is the author of Technology Integration in the Elementary Music Classroom, Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with a SMART Board, and Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with One or more iPads! She is also an author for Online Learning Exchange™ Interactive Music powered by Silver Burdett. She has given numerous presentations on integrating technology into the elementary music classroom as well as being a keynote speaker for music technology conferences in Texas, Indiana, St. Maarten, and Australia. She is the recipient of the 2005 TI:ME Teacher of the Year Award, the 2016 NJ Master Music Teacher Award, the 2016 NJ Governor’s Leader in Arts Education Award, and the 2017 Non-Public School Teacher of the Year Award. You can find out more about Amy at her website:

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