Teaching is a very rewarding profession. We do it because we love it. But that doesn’t mean the long hours, paperwork, and endless meetings don’t burn us out.
Without proper self care and support, teachers can easily become overloaded, overworked… and eventually burnout.
Psychology Today describes burnout as “a state of chronic stress that leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism, detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.”
Have you ever felt burnout as a teacher? If so, you aren’t alone… whether it’s year 1, year 5, 10 or 28.
The biggest piece of advice I can give any teacher who is starting to feel, or is already feeling the burnout is to make a list of priorities. Prioritize what needs done first, what can wait a little bit, and what can wait until later.
- You can download the FREE checklist I use in the Resource Library here, labeled “Priorities”.
- Be realistic too with your expectations. You don’t need to do everything.
- You can also simplify your larger tasks into smaller, more manageable tasks.
Some days will be easier than others, but leaving work at work will save your sanity. Go home and enjoy your family. Home time is family time. Whatever work you don’t get done today will be there tomorrow, and that’s okay.
- Not working during non-contract hours is not selfish. You don’t owe your class, your students, the parents, or your school any more of your time outside of the contracted hours. It may sound harsh at first, but it’s the truth.
- If you find it hard to disconnect from work while at home, make a conscious decision to leave ALL of your schoolwork at work and don’t bring it home. Force yourself to not to work at home.
- And it doesn’t have to be every night, although I do recommend you spend at least 2 weeknights per week not doing schoolwork at home. You’ll find the right balance that works for you.
- If you need “extra time” to complete your school duties, take one night a week to stay late at school. ONE.
- Or try coming in early instead of staying late. It’s much quieter in the morning, your brain is fresh, and there’s usually no one at the copier. 😉
- Take some weekends completely off. Do something for yourself.
“Pick your battles. There are always going to be things you know you cannot change, so concentrate on those that you can.” – Lisa. H
Find a school routine that works. Work smarter, not harder.
- What if you only had to plan your morning routine one time, and it was good for the entire year?
- Or you had a go-to rotation for Guided Reading, that took little time to plan because you had a system in place?
- Try color coding your classroom, or utilizing other organization systems to help your transitions, planning, paperwork, and teaching go smoother.
- IEP writing burnout is a real thing too, and it will happen – this will help you with some strategies for when it does.
Exercise… whether that’s running, yoga, walking the dogs, going to the gym. A little bit of exercise does everyone some good.
Make sleep a priority. And if you find yourself an insomniac, 1. you aren’t alone, and 2. it doesn’t make you weak to ask for help. There are medications out there that will help you sleep, and you don’t need to take them forever.
- Try sleep gummies from Target, or melatonin pills. Sleepy lotion from Lush is also a great trick! And Sleepy Time tea is fabulous.
Eat healthy. Your physical body and mind will thank you. They both run better when well nourished. And drink enough water.
- But I will be the first person to tell you to keep a drawer full of snacks at work. Teachers in my building always know to come to me for candy, ha!
Teacher friends who get it. And they don’t have to be teachers you work with. This online community is such a wonderful thing… my 3 best teacher friends and I don’t live in the same states, but they’re always a text away.
- And whether you’re friends or not, don’t judge what self care looks like to another teacher. If it’s not something that you would consider self care for yourself, that’s okay. Everyone fills their cup up in a different way.
Grab a coffee or small snack at the gas station or Chick-fila on the way to school for your paras. Little things like this can go a long way to boost morale in the classroom. When they’re in a good mood, you’re in a good mood.
Turn off your work email notifications on your phone. Actually, just don’t do it. Do not, I repeat… DO NOT put work email on your phone.
Say no. No explanation need, just say no.
Watch some funny videos online. Funny animal videos, cookie and cake decorating videos, or watching people feed deer always make me smile. What makes you happy? Take some time to fill up your cup and laugh.
Take a day off. Use your sick days / mental health days.
Leave your job. Go try something else, switch grade levels or school… and see if it resparks that love of teaching inside of you. There are plenty of things you can do with a teaching degree outside of a traditional classroom.
What tips do you have to help other teachers avoid burnout? Tell us in the comments below!