Thursday, June 14, 2018

5 Ways to Fight Teacher Burnout

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I'm sure most of you are finishing out the school year and you are thinking to yourself, how can you possibly manage doing this another year and another year after that? The burnout rate in teachers is rising and with that happening more and more college programs have class numbers that are dwindling. No one wants to be a teacher. This is alarming. There was a time when I was graduating college (not that long ago) and there were a ton of us worried to death that we wouldn't be able to get a job and now there are some states that are accepting people with just a bachelors degree to step in the classroom and teach our students.

I have decided that in order to help you all feel better about returning after this summer break you need to start planning NOW to fight that teacher burnout. You need to come up with ways that you are going to not allow the stress of teaching to get to you that you just want to flat out quit. The funny thing is that you are all probably thinking about how to minimize the IEP meetings, the staff meetings, the paperwork, the grading. Honestly, there are tips that you can use to fine tune some of those but, ultimately those things are out of your control. Many times the items that we allow to stress us out are things that we cannot control.
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I am planning to give you advice on the ways that you can control the mindset that you have about your teaching job. This will allow you to fight that burnout and be able to love what you do. I am no means an expert but, these few pieces of information have helped me to change how I think about my job and my workload.

1. Realize that you are not a superhero and that you can't do everything. 
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We all try really hard to put on that show that we have it all together. Honestly, be real with yourself and just know that you don't and that it is okay. Many of us are teachers but, we also wear many other hats that span from mom, wife, girlfriend, sister, daughter, church member, coach, volunteer, student, etc. The teacher community (especially on social media lately) has been blowing up with posts from fellow teachers that many people think have it together, and actually don't. There is nothing wrong with this and the sooner you are willing to admit it and share it with your teacher buddies the less likely we are to stress each other out that we need to get it all done. 

2. Make lists by priorities, what has to get done, what needs to get done, and what would you like to do. 

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I have found that this is something that has relieved a lot of my stress. Making lists is a way that I feel like I have accounted for the things that need to get done. Do I get a little obsessive about crossing things off? Maybe. Do I re-write the lists after I have crossed off a few things because I get obsessive compulsive about how messy it looks? I sure do. This is my process and it's how I structure the HAVES, NEEDS, and LIKES that I like to call it. Making lists with those headings is super helpful because then you can make priorities of what needs to get done when. I also sometimes put dates next to items if they have a due date. Those report cards can't get done after the due date, neither can the IEPs so I make sure that they have the date next to them so I can prioritize.

3. After lists, make a schedule and try to stick to it as best as you can. 

I am someone that if I don't have a way to hold myself accountable and it's really something I'm not into doing, I'm going to 100% procrastinate. That's just who I am and I know that. So what I do is I make lists that people know about and I schedule things and I tell people I have them scheduled. I tell my husband, my co-workers, my family and sometimes even you all then because I don't want to let them down (aka I'm a people-pleaser) I always will get the work done because of that. Making that schedule and then making it kind of public helps you to follow through, because if we refer back to #1 we all want to look like we have our stuff together.

4. Once you make the schedule put in pieces of time where you do things for yourself. 
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So you have prioritized, you have made a list, you have it scheduled out. Now it's time to take that schedule and put some spaces in it where you are giving yourself a break here and there. This doesn't mean that for 3 weeks you have fun but, you take small pieces of time while you keep those due dates in mind and you take time for yourself. It could mean you stop and watch a movie, you get your nails done, you have dinner with a friend, or you read a book that you want to. Making sure that you are taking breaks to do things that you love will keep you fresh and re-energized to come back to what you need to do with the proper devotion.

5. Don't feel the pressure to have it all figured out.
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 You are in a position where you are constantly growing, evolving, and changing. The field of education is always changing and it is partly our job to make sure that we keep up with them. This can be super overwhelming and at times you are just not going to have a handle on it all. You are going to have to be okay with times when things are not figured out. I spend a lot of the summer with a whirlwind in my head of wondering what my class list is going to look like, what my schedule is going to look like and again I cannot control this. So, you sometimes have to let go that you don't have it all figured out and just enjoy what you are doing in the time being. Do what you can in the moment that you have.

Some of these tips are definitely easier said then done but, the thing is that I know that if I start to take control of the things that I can that it has made it easier on me to deal with. I hope that you find that some or all of these tips have helped you gain the mindset that can help you to not feel as though that this school year is your last.

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