Teacher burnout is real and can happen to anyone at anytime. Low salaries, additional workload and responsibilities, together with limited appreciation can have demoralising effects on even the most capable, enthusiastic teachers.
With 20 years of experience behind me, these are some of the things I try to do to keep me motivated as a teacher and avoid the dreaded burnout. What do you do?
Please add to the list in the comments below, if something else works for you!
- Make time for yourself
It is important to schedule time for yourself in your busy day to day routine. It shouldn’t be a treat, it should be a priority. A healthy, happy you, will be a better, motivating teacher.
- Exercise regularly
Those magic endorphins that hit you after a workout help keep balance in your life. They help put things into perspective as soon as they start going lopsided. Regular exercise boosts your confidence and increases your energy levels.
- Sleep well
This might be easier said than done for some, but research shows that sticking to a sleep schedule helps your body get the required hours of sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep helps you get through a busy, hectic, stressful day.
Switch off from electronic devices that cause you stress. Turn off work email notifications in the evening and deal with them in the morning. Many schools have certain deadlines for you to adhere by, but if your school doesn’t, set your own.
- Say no
Don’t take on board more than you can handle. Saying no, in a polite way, will help you get through your workday knowing that you can stick to your schedule and be able to manage all your tasks.
- Stay positive
When your mind drifts to the negative (trust me it will at some point) try to bring it back to positive thoughts. Remind yourself of how lucky you are to be in a profession that shapes lives, pays bills, keeps you busy etc. Not everyone is lucky enough to be in your position. Having positive people around you rubs off.
- Don’t be a perfectionist
Focus on getting the job done, even if it might not be perfect. Cut yourself some slack, if it’s not; not everything will be perfect and it’s ok if it’s not. Do your best and if you have time you can always go back at a later date and improve it. Getting it done is better than not doing it at all.
- Do things outside of school
Go away for a weekend, change scenery, meet up with friends. If you have a hobby, engage in that or maybe start something new. Whatever you do, try to do more of what makes you happy.
- Talk to someone
If you are feeling overwhelmed or just down in the dumps, talk to someone you trust and let it out. Allowing these feelings to fester is no good and will only lead to matters getting worse. You may find that hearing some else’s perspective may be just the thing you needed to start looking at things in a different light.
Break large tasks into manageable smaller ones and cross them off as you get them done. This way you will start to feel a sense of accomplishment and will see your goal getting closer.
Life is a rollercoaster and so is everything that comes with it. Teaching is not an easy job, no matter what some people may think; it is physically tiring and mentally draining. You can argue that this is the case with many other jobs too, and I by no means doubt that. I think that the above can be followed by all people, to avoid burnout in any occupation.
In a nutshell, try to keep on top of it by doing things for yourself. You must remember that you are more important than anything else. Only when you are well, healthy and happy will you be the best asset for your workplace and in teaching, will you be the best you can be for the kids.
Till next time…