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Teaching Tips: 10 Ways to Deal with Burnout

Janelle Cox

 

It is well known that teaching can be a very stressful job. It is said to be in the top ten for the most stressful careers that people can have in the United States.

It’s easy to see why, if you look at all of the things teachers are required and expected to deal with. A teacher’s role is like no other: They can go from being an educator to a surrogate parent, then to a mentor and disciplinarian in just a matter of minutes. What other career holds so many multifaceted roles within one? With all of these expectations along with paperwork, conferences, meetings, lesson planning, and so much more, it’s no wonder teachers get burned out and consider another vocation.

Instead of leaving a career that you love, here are the top 10 teaching tips that can help combat burnout:

1. Take Time for Yourself

If you’re a parent, you may find this extremely hard to do, but if you want to avoid feeling stressed out, it’s something you need to do. Take some “me time” each day to do something for yourself. Whether it’s reading, listening to music, going for a jog, or a quick shopping trip, all you need is about 30 minutes to an hour to rejuvenate each day.

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2. Limit What Work You Bring Home

You may feel overwhelmed with all of the planning, grading and organizing that needs to be done, that you feel you need to bring it home with you. Well don’t. There will always be more work to do. Not every waking moment needs to be dedicated to your career. Choose a reasonable time to stay after school to prep, grade or get organized. Then whatever you don’t finish, write yourself a note and finish it before or after school the next day. If you want to go online and look for new lessons and activities when you are home, then choose one day during the week to do this. And make sure you limit the time to one to two hours.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Even though you may feel like you can do it all, there will come a time when you will need some help. Whether it’s grading papers, or organizing the class party, other people can help you. Don’t be afraid to ask parent volunteers to help you plan the next holiday party, or have students switch papers with their peers and grade them. Anything to take a little bit off of your plate will help you avoid teacher burnout.

4. Remember Why You Became a Teacher

The best way to do this is to connect with pre-service teachers that are just entering the field. These teachers are excited and enthusiastic about their upcoming career. Sign up to have a student teacher in your classroom. This will not only help motivate you again, but it will always alleviate some of the work load you have.  

5. Lean on a Colleague

Connect with your fellow teachers. These colleagues know what it’s like to be and feel burned out. Take some time to pick their brain and see what they do to combat teacher burnout.

6. Don’t be Afraid to Take a Day Off

There are many teachers who feel if they take a day off their classroom will not be able to run smoothly. If you implemented a good classroom routine, then there is nothing to worry about. Even if your students don’t have the classroom routine down pat, it’s still not your problem. Teachers are given a few personal days, take advantage of these and use them.

7. Network with Teachers Online

There are many teachers that moonlight as bloggers to help out their fellow teachers and share lessons and ideas. Try starting your own website or join in on the conversations with other teacher bloggers. These sites tend to be positive and motivating for teachers. You can vent your problems and the other readers can help you find a solution that works. Just by reading that others are going through the same thing as you, can help.

8. Find Something New

Try taking a new professional course, go to a workshop, teach a night class, or find another way to interact with adults. You are with children all day long and are in need of some adult conversation. Anyway to interact with other adults will help alleviate some stress.

9. Stay Away from Negativity

Distance yourself from the negativity. Avoid negative colleagues and professional events that are going to bring you down. If you’re in the teacher’s lounge and hear your colleagues complaining every day, this is just going to make you feel worse. Try to be around people that have a positive outlook on teaching, and spend your time with them.

10. Learn How to Unwind

All you need is five minutes a day to de-stress. Take this time to mediate, listen to music, do yoga, go for a walk, get some sunlight, talk with your friends or exercise. Eat lunch with your colleagues and talk about something other than school. Once you find that “thing” that helps you unwind during the school day, you will find that it will help you avoid teacher burnout.

Remember, these strategies need to be consistent in order to be effective. Try a few, or try them all. Once you find what works for you, make sure to practice every day.

How do you combat teacher burnout? Do you have any tips or suggestions that you would like to share? Feel free to leave a comment below. We would love to hear your thoughts.

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