Professional development | Got the Burnout Blues? | Learning Magazine
*As featured in a past edition of one of our magazines*
Got the Burnout Blues?
Get rejuvenated with these ten tips.
You're tired. And it's no wonder. You're dealing with multiple ability levels, some of your students have severe discipline problems, and others have special needs. The number that don't speak any English is growing. You get little outside help and you're drowning in paperwork. Your salary isn't what it should be. You're worn out and discouraged.
In short, you're burned out. Many teachers have felt this way. If it makes you feel any better, it's quite common. However, there are a few things you can do to avoid some of the stress that leads to burnout.
Don't take so much work home. Impossible? Not really. Ask yourself, Do I need to grade EVERYTHING? Put a star or check on the top of some papers. And don't correct all of the spelling errors—it may actually be detrimental to student learning. You need time to yourself when you leave school, so leave some of that work at work!
Don't bite off more than you can chew. Some teachers plan field trips each grading period, invite guest speakers each week, take a class at the local university, and continue their regular teaching all at the same time. STOP! You don't need to be Super Teacher—one or two extensive, time-consuming, stress-producing projects a year are quite enough.
Accept what you can change and who you can't. Rambunctious Ralph in the back row may exhaust you. Since he's not your only student, don't feel that you have to spend all of your time with him. Arrange to have him work with another teacher for a little while each week so you can get a break. (Don't forget to return the favor.) Spending all your time and energy on the tough students just drags you down.
Leave on time and don't come in too early. Although you may have to stay late some days for conferences or meetings, don't make a habit of staying late every day. Work as hard as you can when you're at work, walk out of the door at the end of the day, and don't look back. You'll feel more refreshed for a new day if you've had time away from school.
Don't volunteer for every committee. Besides taking up your valuable time, committees often have little to do with teaching and can involve you in politics that are hard to handle. Choose one committee and do your best.
Make a change. If you see no way to make your present situation better, request a change in grade level, school, or district. Even if the change isn't made immediately, you'll have something to look forward to. In the meantime, get a change of scenery now—take a mini-vacation. Even a three-day weekend away from the usual routine can be invigorating.
Do something for you! Take a class totally unrelated to teaching—cooking, writing, or painting. Take on a new hobby. Go out for an extravagant meal just because you deserve it. Invite your friends over for a cookout. You've heard suggestions like these before, but they all have merit.
Get out and exercise. Start those endorphins flowing for a natural high. Even a half-hour walk does wonders. You'll feel less tired at the end of a stressful day.
Set aside time each day for you. The best time for you might be right before bed. Don't just watch TV; do something that you truly enjoy—read a good book, browse through a magazine, or make crafts for the upcoming holidays.
Get some rest. Sleep is just what you need if you're starting to feel burned out. Exhaustion undermines your attitude, your ability to cope, and your resistance to illness. Set a bedtime and go to bed, even if there are dishes left in the sink.
Finally, don't feel guilty about being burned out. It doesn't mean that you're a bad teacher. The reality is that every day you're dealing with factors beyond your control—children from dysfunctional families, low teaching salaries, and less than perfect working conditions. If you want to head off the stress that leads to burnout, you must first take care of YOU.