By now, thanks (or no thanks) to Covid, I think the whole world understands just how exhausting and demanding it is to be a teacher. The sudden shift of learning from an actual school building to student homes has been a big eye opener for many.
The thing is, for many of us in the field, teaching was already tough to begin with. While we love what we do, there are ongoing components to this job that oftentimes lead to stress, overwhelm, and frustration. Some of these factors include large class sizes, testing demands, lack of family and/or administrative support, constantly changing curriculum, meeting special and diverse needs, and grading, among many other things. We want to be our best and do our best for those we serve, and sometimes, it simply feels impossible. When this happens, we reach a point of burnout.
So, what exactly does burnout look like and how do you know if you are experiencing it? Teachers who are dealing with burnout display signs of cynicism, feelings of ineffectiveness, and physical and emotional exhaustion, among other things. Equally concerning is the fact that feelings of burnout extend beyond the teacher. Family members, students, and the entire educational system are also negatively impacted.
Burnout is a real phenomenon among teachers across the nation and something that NEA has addressed as a critical issue that must be properly dealt with. According to research, leaders who protect their teacher’s time, welcome their input, and invest in their mental and emotional well-being through comprehensive programs, see greater rates of success. Yes, please!
But what can we, as teachers, do for ourselves to relieve the feeling of burnout?
Here are 5 ideas to help get relief during burnout:
- Talk about it. There is something to be said about expressing your thoughts and feelings with someone else, whether that be with a friend, colleague, or professional.
- Practice Self Care. You know best what your mind, body, and soul needs. Whether this looks like breathwork, journaling, reading, walking, getting a massage, or joining a new group, self-care is a must that you must tend to regularly.
- Set boundaries. Know when to say yes and when to say no and stick to it. Decide now when you will stop working and what times you will dedicate to yourself, your family, and any of your social networks.
- Reflect, Evaluate, and Understand what is impacting you the most. Once you are able to identify your greatest stressors, decide what you can do to address and alleviate only what is within your control. Release yourself from the burden of everything else and do your best to practice ongoing evaluation.
- Design your Day. Each day, decide how your day will be by choosing an affirmation or mantra and stick to it. Decide that no matter what, you will persevere through any challenges that may arise and embrace all the good.
You can find more tips on self-care for educators by browsing related blogs, connecting with other educators, and staying in touch with your needs.
One thing we can count on as educators, is that there will always be challenges. More importantly, however, is that with the right support and approach, teaching is also a job that carries with it an enormous amount of fulfillment, impact, and purpose. Together, we can thrive and continue changing the world one mind at a time.