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Teaching Strategies that Prevent Teacher Burnout

Janelle Cox

We have all experienced good days and bad days, and sometimes our energy is up, and other days it is down and we would rather stay in bed all day. While it is completely natural to have moments such as these, it’s often the failure to fuel ourselves with the right energy and to be able to use teaching strategies to manage it that leads us to the moments of teacher burnout.

What are these hidden energy killers? And what can we do to keep ourselves from becoming burned out? Through research we have learned a lot, and science has the answers. Here are a few energy killers that cognitive behavioral therapist Homaira Kabir believes may interfere with your daily energy. Use your teaching strategies to employ these and feel better.

Teaching Strategies: Get More Sleep

For decades, the average amount of sleep an individual received was 10 hours each night. Now, can you imagine how great you would feel if you were able to sleep for 10 hours a night? You would probably be able to handle any classroom crisis or behavior with that kind of sleep. Unfortunately, in today’s world most of us aren’t even getting the recommended seven hours of sleep a night that doctors recommend we need in order to function well. By going to bed early, and shutting off all of our electronic devices before bedtime, we can allow our bodies the rest it needs in order for our brains to stay active and alert, and function properly.

Physical Activity

While many of us think we may be getting enough physical exercise and movement throughout our day, the latest research shows that in today’s economy we are not. Thirty minutes of activity in the gym cannot offset us sitting down for most of the day. While a lot of teachers tend to stand while they teach, you do have a lot of time that you are sitting down as well. Studies show that we need to move around all throughout the school day. Instead of lecturing while being seated, try walking around the classroom. When you have a lunch break or a free period, take a brisk walk. When the students are reading silently, stand up and stretch, these are some of the ways to get, and keep your energy flowing.

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Emotional Energy

Our emotions direct our thoughts and actions and the way that we think and feel. If we spend the majority of our time thinking negatively we are draining our emotional energy. This time could be spent on optimism, and motivation for the positive things that we want in our lives. Instead of dwelling on what we can’t change in our lives and our classrooms, we need to focus on the positive things that we have in our lives, and what we can do to make our classrooms even better.

Our Routine

Teachers thrive on routine because our students need it just as much as we do. But routine also keeps us in our comfort zone and limits our full potential. Try to step out of what is so predictable in your life and your classroom, and be creative and explore the world around you. The best way to do this is think of what really interests you and take the time to explore that. Allow time to express yourself in a whole new way. If you have always wanted to try yoga, then go ahead and give it a try. If there is a teaching strategy that you think will work well for your classroom, but your team doesn’t want to try it, give it a try anyways, what the worst that could happen, the students don’t respond to it? Take a moment to step outside of your comfort zone and routine and just see what happens.

Information Overload

In this technological era we are bombarded by information all day, every day. When we hear a ding we are like Pavlov’s dog, and respond by quickly checking our phones to see if we received a text or an e-mail. As we become more and more inundated with these large amounts of information, our brains have a hard time processing all of it, which can lead to stress and feeling burned out. This energy killer leads to bad decision making and overall stress on our bodies. Try to set limits on how often you check your email, look up information, or text your friends. Go outside and enjoy nature and keep your mental space free and clear.

By setting boundaries, regulating your emotions, sticking to your goals, and getting enough sleep, you can beat these energy killers and beat teacher burnout. Connect to your interests and passions in life, and maximize them by recharging and taking some time for yourself. Be positive and have gratitude towards others, and you will find that your life will be fulfilled.

What do you do to avoid teacher burnout? Do you have any tips or ideas to share? Please leave your comments below. We would love to hear them.

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 a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.