As teachers, we may start the school year full of enthusiasm, excitement and a positive outlook, but as the year goes on, we may start to feel teacher burnout. Over years of teaching this burnout may intensify and become obvious to colleagues, parents and your students. Here are some signs of burnout and a 5 ways to avoid teacher burnout.
Signs of teacher burnout:
- Feeling hopeless and overwhelmed by the paperwork and workload of teaching
- Feeling as if nothing you do will help your students
- Not wanting to go to work
- Withdrawing from your work colleagues
- Catching yourself always speaking negatively about your colleagues or students
- Mental, physical or emotional exhaustion that persists over time
Five ways to avoid teacher burnout
1.) Send out an SOS
Reach out to your support network. Tap in to the supports you have in your life including friends, family and trusted colleagues. If your mental health is suffering, set up a time to talk to a mental health counselor. If you teach at a public school, the school counselor may be able to give you a referral for a professional to talk to.
2) Clarify your core qualities
Identify what makes you unique and what your core qualities are. Focusing on your core qualities during times of challenge is a strength based approach to help you through. To help identify your core qualities go to the website http://www.authentichappiness.com
Log in with a username and password. It’s a free site but they ask to use your anonymous assessment data in their research.
Once you log in, scroll down to the VIA (Values in Action) survey of character strengths and complete the survey, which should take you about 30 minutes. It’s 240 multiple choice items. Try to complete all the items honestly and openly.
After completing the survey you’ll be able to see and print your “signature strengths” which are the top 5 character strengths according to the survey. This website gives detail about each of your core qualities. After taking the survey, ask yourself how you can use your core qualities to help when you are struggling or feeling as if you have teacher burnout?
Find time to care for yourself. Once I realized that I spent 30 minutes directing cars in the parent car pick up line most days after school, I made it a priority to give myself at least 30 minutes of “me” time a day. What were the things you loved to do before you started teaching? I love to take walks outside with a friend or by myself. Carve out self-care time for yourself every day to help you stay balanced and avoid teacher burnout.
4) Keep a journal
Start keeping a journal to reflect on what is going well and what you would do differently. Sometimes a weekly calendar or lesson plan book can be used as a place to jot down notes about how a lesson went. Put reminders to yourself about what you would do differently next time you teach the lesson. When we are able to improve our teaching practices, we feel less stress and more successful. Even when our lessons bomb, we have a chance to reflect and try again. A personal journal can be helpful if you are feeling stressed or need a place to vent. After a year or two of teaching, you will be amazed at your growth as you look back at your journal.
5) Find a mentor
As a new teacher, you may be assigned a mentor who can help you navigate your first year. If you are not assigned a mentor, find a positive, seasoned teacher who can help you. Here are some things mentors can do:
- Most special education teachers will need help writing their IEPs and a mentor can double-check your work before heading into the IEP meeting.
- Help you sent up your classroom at the start of the school year
- Navigate communications with parents
- Review lesson plans or spend time reflecting after a lesson plan.
- Support with learning how to stay organized
- Moral support!
What are some ways you have avoided teacher burnout?