By Teachers, For Teachers
Do you feel like you’re drowning in your classroom management and daily responsibilities? If so, then you may have teacher fatigue. Teacher fatigue can be a real problem. Whether it lasts for a few days, a week, or a month, if you have it, then that’s a sign that you need to make some changes. There’s no question that teachers are busy. The classroom management responsibilities are endless, and trying to fit in time for yourself may seem like a joke. One would think with the nights and weekends free, how is it even possible to allow fatigue to set in? But as you know, a teacher’s work is never done. If you or someone you know is experiencing teacher fatigue, then here are a few classroom management ways to help you beat it.
The first thing that you need to do is to stop trying to do everything. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your daily responsibilities, then take control of what needs to be done and eliminate the tasks that are unnecessary. Be realistic about what needs to be accomplished and what you can accomplish versus what does not. Many of the tasks on your list can most likely be done at a later date or by someone other than yourself. What you need to do is to sit down and prioritize, which leads me to the next step on how to beat teacher fatigue.
Once you’ve realized that you don’t have to do everything on your list, your next step is to prioritize what does need to be accomplished each day. One of the main reasons that you may be so tired is that you put too many tasks on your plate, and now you’re feeling overwhelmed and feel responsible to complete them all in a certain amount of time. What you need to do is write down each task that you “Think” needs to be done, then prioritize that list from the most important (needs to get done right away) to the least important (can wait). Take a look at your list and a look at your schedule to help you figure out what time of the day is the best time to get what needs to be done. You may want to get the most important things done as soon as you get to work just for the shear fact that it’ll help your mind relax. You’re essentially creating a schedule around your most important tasks to help you get focused and not feel so stresses out and tired.
One of the main reasons for teacher fatigue is that teachers make up to 1500 decisions a day. As mentioned in Classroom Management Techniques to Handle Teacher Fatigue, teachers make about one decision every four minutes of their day. Research has found that making a lot of decisions is tiring and “Decision fatigue” can reduce your ability to make good decisions. This is why you may have a hard time completing your everyday tasks at home like cooking and cleaning, because you’ve already used up all of your decision making and willpower at work.
To help you beat teacher fatigue, you must try and limit your decisionmaking and automate your tasks. The best way to do this is to create routines with your students where you don’t have to make any decisions for them. For example, have a routine for when students enter and exit the classroom, transition onto another subject, walk in the halls, hand in homework, etc. The more routines you create, the less the students will ask you questions, and the less decisions you’ll have to make. By creating these simple daily habits, you’re lessening your decision fatigue, which is a great way to maximize your energy.
Now that you get the hang of how to prioritize and delegate your tasks, create routines, and limit your decisionmaking, the next step is to learn how to make the most of your time. The feeling of teacher fatigue may set in when you always feel like you don’t have enough time to complete your tasks. One of the easiest ways to maximize you time is to be more efficient with your tasks. You can do this by pairing similar tasks together. For example, instead of grading papers on one subject, grade papers on all subjects. Instead of answering emails and parent notes as they come in, set aside a time of day to answer all of them. Think about the tasks that make you feel overwhelmed and see if you can somehow combine them to make you feel less inundated.
You need to make YOU a top priority. For most teachers, the idea of making time for themselves is the opposite of getting things done. They never see themselves as a priority and that’s what makes the fatigue set in. What you need to realize is that by making time for yourself, you’re actually going to help yourself be more productive. When you’re tired, your body needs rest. If you make the time for yourself and the things that you love to do, you’re giving your body what it needs to make it feel better. Make time for self-care -- your body and mind need it to thrive.
How do you fight teacher fatigue? Do you have any classroom management that work well for you? Please share your ideas and thoughts in the comment section below, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.