Teaching is one of the most rewarding careers, but it is also one of the most demanding. Teachers must fill multiple roles, such as record keeping, serving on school committees and, of course, teaching. Burnout is a state of chronic stress. If you are feeling exhausted and distressed, you are not alone. According to the Learning Policy Institute, almost 8 percent of teachers leave each year, for reasons other than retirement. The key to dealing with teacher burnout is prevention. Here are some tips to help you avoid burnout:
Teachers tend to be hard-working achievers. You may feel that you need to take on more than you should. Instead, know your limits. Control which activities, in addition to your teaching duties, you take on. There is nothing wrong with a tactful but firm refusal.
Arrive at school early
For most of us, the early part of the day is the most productive. Arriving perhaps a half-hour before your day begins gives you quiet time to organize your materials, answer emails, and then focus on your students.
Avoid the Sunday night scramble
You know what that is. Monday morning is hanging over you like a storm cloud. You have papers to grade, and lesson plans to complete. To avoid this, do your best to prepare for the upcoming week before you leave on Friday. Then enjoy your weekend, including Sunday night.
Team up with your fellow teachers
Whether it is lesson planning, or discussing classroom problems, sharing the workload with friends and colleagues makes all the difference. Other teachers may have problem-solving tips, useful information about students, or just provide a friendly listening ear, any of which reduces your stress level.
Take care of your physical health
Everything you do is harder when you don’t feel well. Be proactive in caring for your health. It may be tempting to skip breakfast or lunch, but your body needs healthy food to function at your best. Being well rested also makes your whole day better, so don’t deprive yourself of sleep.
No matter how busy you are, you need regular exercise. It is essential for your physical health, but also releases endorphins that will keep you emotionally healthy. You don’t have to go to a gym. You can take a walk, go for a bike ride, or do yoga.
Maintain your perspective
The responsibilities of teaching can be overwhelming. You are trying to teach your students, as well as being aware of the challenges they face in their personal lives. It is important to remember that no matter how hard you try, you can’t save the world. Do what you can for your students, but know your limits.
Nourish your mental health
Your mental health is important. Perhaps you need to spend a day reading for pleasure or listening to music. You know what soothes your soul and leaves you refreshed. You cannot help others if you are burned out.
Find your sanctuaries
You don’t always need to take a whole day to recharge your batteries. You may need an hour in your favorite cafe, or a park bench in a peaceful place. It may even be a quiet place in your school. When you feel yourself becoming stressed, find your sanctuary and even if you only have a few minutes, breathe or meditate.
Separate your work and home life
Teaching can be all-consuming, but you do not have to sacrifice your personal life to be a good teacher. As a teacher, your work will never be completely caught up. Do the best you can, but when the day is over, enjoy your life with your family and friends.
You will be a more effective teacher if you take care of your own needs and prevent burnout.
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