As we hit the mid mark of February, many teachers are starting to feel burnout creeping up on the them. Some might already be dealing with it. Burnout is very real and very serious for teachers. There are some things you can do to keep it from overtaking you and negatively impacting your classroom.
1. Create and Maintain Boundaries – Establish your working hours and stick to them. Do not check your email after a set time and do not engage is work during those off hours. You need and deserve the time to rest your brain and body. Whether you have a family at home take care of or just yourself, you need the time to not be connected to school. Consider deleting your school email from your phone if you need to really disconnect. That time is yours and it is precious.
2. Explore Personal Professional Development: Burnout is not always linked to just being tired. Sometimes the burnout is a result of not feeling challenged or excited about what you are doing. Exploring PD that can change your practice and offer new approaches could invigorate you and your classroom. When you get to chose the PD, you will be fully invested in learning and growing. Find a conference and connect with like-minded people to fill your bucket again. These are wonderful ways to fight off burnout.
3. Reach Out to Others – Some schools have a mentoring system in place, but many do not. If you do not, find your teaching partner and reach out to them. It doesn’t have to be a full therapy session, just express some of the feelings you are having and ask how they deal with them. Sometimes that teachers has been hoping someone would say something for weeks and the both of you can connect and work through this together. If you are comfortable, find and speak to a therapist. A trained professional can help you navigate complex feelings connected to your burnout. Feeling better with who you are and where you are at can make the classroom a much better place to be for everyone.
4. Change The Scenery – Sometimes rearranging your classroom and moving things around can be a huge help when it comes to burnout. I used to change my space every marking period. It was good for me and it was good for the students. The room can feel very stale after just a few months. Shuffling the seats and changing the decor can really add a bit of positive energy into the room. While this might not be a long-term fix, getting students involved could make it a fun projects that adds a smile to your face.
5. Focus On Wins – Do not forget to spend some time focusing on your wins! We can often get bogged down by the loses and the frustrations dealing with rules, regulations, admin, etc. that we forget that we are doing some awesome things. Did you have a struggling student that finally had a lightbulb moment after you offered a new approach? Did a quiet student finally feel comfortable in your class to share their thoughts? Did your lesson land how you had hoped? Celebrate those wins. Celebrate them with yourself or share them with friends and family. We want to celebrate the wins of our students because we know it can help with their self-esteem. It applies to teachers as well. Shoutout yourself and, while you are at it, shoutout your peers. Catch them doing something awesome? Let them know. Here are student say they loved something a teacher did in their class? Drop them an email to let them know. Whenever I do this, the smile on the teachers’ faces are worth it.
Burnout can take out the very best teachers. We all need support systems and ways to process our emotions. Some of us do woodworking, play video games, garden, paint, or any other host of things to keep us grounded and in a better place. It is not easy, but we need to take care of ourselves if we want to be able to take care of our students and, more importantly, the family we have at home.
Hugs and High Fives,
The Nerdy Teacher