Feeling overloaded and close to burning out? Having doubts about your decision to become a teacher? It happens to more teachers than you think. Check out our 10 Tips To Beat Teacher Burnout and Download Our FREE Burnout Beating Teaching Journal to help you Beat the Burnout!
Not Just A Teacher
Everyone has a ‘To Do List’ but a teacher’s list seems to be never ending. Every week there seems to be another thing to do, a new initiative, more assessments, additional reports, or an extra differentiated program that needs to be implemented.
But you’re never given extra time to do these extra things and nothing seems to be taken away.
Most new things are not replacements, but become additions to your increasing workload.
A workload that is too big to fit into school hours.
Ask any teacher and they will tell you that not having enough time, at school, to do everything is the most challenging part of teaching. It’s not surprising really when you think about it.
Teachers just can’t say NO to anything and will give their all to everything!
For most of us, teaching is not just a job…it’s a calling. Let’s face it nobody goes into teaching for the money or as a stepping stone into a higher level position.
Take a minute or two to think about everything you do for your job and if you do these things in-school or after-school hours…
Marking, planning, programming, testing, duty, parent meetings, case conferences, referrals, retesting, photocopying, classroom displays, finding motivating, fun, activities, accommodating individual abilities and interest, giving feedback, preparing and making resources, games and activities, writing lesson plans, organising assemblies, incursions, excursions…
the list goes on…
Oh yes…and don’t forget, standing in front of the class and TEACHING!
Teaching is a big job, you’re certainly not JUST A TEACHER!
It’s no wonder that between 30% and 50% of teachers leave teaching within the first 5 years.
Are You At Risk Of Burning Out?
One of the reasons you may be feeling tired, exhausted or even a little burnt out is because you don’t give yourself enough time off from school-work when you go home.
Your evenings and weekends should include time for you to wind down and switch off from work, time to relax and de-stress and refresh ready for Monday.
But instead you have so much to do that you have to use your time doing MORE school-work, more cutting, more laminating, more marking, more printing, more planning, more researching… spending more time on school work and less time on yourself, friends and family.
Have you ever wondered how many extra hours you are spending on doing school-work at home? Has school-work actually taken over your non-working hours without you realising it?
It’s time to stop putting your students before your own children, your family, and your job before your own health and well-being, pronto!
When you realise that you are probably doing too much you need to do something about it, ASAP. To help we have put together a FREE “How To Avoid Teacher Burnout Journal.” At the end of this post. Use it to help you create a plan to beat teacher burnout, reduce teacher stress, and help you put the joy back into teaching.
Sign up below and start planning how you can get some work-life balance back and avoid teacher burnout!
How Can You Beat Teacher Burn Out?
Beating burnout starts with accepting that you don’t have a good work-life balance and then taking action to reverse it. Next focus on what you can change, not what you can’t. Many things are out of your control like Government priorities and Department initiatives, but you can take control over how much time you spend on doing school work at home.
Make small changes, rather than trying to ban yourself totally from doing school work at home. Banning yourself would be more stressful and not the aim! Try things like setting a time limit for doing school work, 2 hours instead of 4! You could even schedule ‘work free’ blocks one evening a week. Choose students activities that require less prep-time, circles take much more time to cut out than squares! Cut back on laminating, invest in reusable plastic pockets, it is a neat way to get more ‘you time’.
The aim is to find ways to free up more time for you, your friends and family so you feel less stress and don’t burnout. Here are 10 simple things you can do to help you beat teacher burnout!
10 Tips To Beat Teacher Burnout
1. Learn To Say ‘No’. Saying ‘NO’ is something many of us find difficult to do, mainly because we don’t like saying the word NO! But the reality is, you already have more to do than is realistically possible so you cannot commit to one more thing. Teachers are doers and incapable of just sitting back from helping others. But again it’s time to say NO! To avoid burnout only select one or two after school activities to be part of, rather than ten. Putting your ‘hand up’ to help with too many projects can lead to exhaustion. Instead, you need to practice ways of saying ‘No’ so that you won’t over stretch yourself or burn out because you’re over-committed. If you’re not comfortable saying ‘No’ you need to have a few responses ready and you need to practice saying them to yourself. Try something like:
“I appreciate you asking me, but my workload/calendar is full at the moment.”
“Thanks for thinking of me, but I am overcommitted at the moment and I cannot take on anything else.”
“I wish I could help, but I have too much on my schedule. I would not be able to do full commit and do it properly.”
2. Set realistic goals and reward yourself when you reach them. Sometimes we get burnt out because we have unrealistic expectations for ourselves and we set the bar too high. Yes, set the bar high, but not so high that you overstretch yourself, again, trying to reach it. Yes you want the best for your students but it can’t be to the detriment of your health. This is linked to number one, giver yourself permission to say ‘NO’… to yourself!
Teachers are passionate about what they do and will go to extreme lengths to make sure EVERY second of the day at school is more motivating, fun and engaging than yesterday for their students. This has to stop, you need to say NO to yourself and the activity that needs 100 circles cutting out and choose one that is just as appropriate but takes much less time to prep. Use the time you saved to reward yourself with some ‘You’ time, you need it!
3. Make some time for yourself. For many teachers, the classroom is their life. It’s so easy to become completely consumed in work because, for most of us, teaching is a part of who we are. It’s more than just a job. However, it also means many of us devote too much time and thought to the classroom, which makes everything (parent complaints, lesson planning, grading, test pressure) seem like a lot bigger deal than it actually is. Make time for your non-education related hobbies to help put everything in proper perspective. If you don’t have hobbies now is the time to find something that works for you.
4. Eat healthy foods. Eating healthy will improve your mood and energy levels, but it takes some planning. If you don’t plan you’ll end up eating junk foods or not at all! Take the time to create a quick simple meal plan for school lunches and dinners for the week. Try 15 minute meals, recipes with few ingredients or bulk cooking and freezing.
5. Unplug! Nothing can trigger burnout faster than reading work e-mails that upset us when we are supposed to be relaxing, unwinding and spending quality time with our families at home. How can anyone resist checking their device when they get a ‘ding’ or a notification, simple answer is you can’t, your FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) will get the better of you every time and take you away from your R & R. The only way to avoid this is to unplug! Don’t panic you don’t have to unplug for hours on end, just start by powering down for a fixed period of time and go from there and enjoy non-work related interactions!
6. Get Organised. Being consistently unorganised at home and work will result in overwhelming levels of stress. Staying organised will help by making life easier in the long run, giving you more time to unwind and relax, which equals being less stressed. Being organised doesn’t just happen, it requires some work from you until it becomes a good habit. Start simple by making a to-do list. Write down everything you need to do in the morning and if your list is too long prioritise the 3 things you must get done. To get through everything else you need to learn to ask for help and DELEGATE! Section of your list into two columns, column 1, ‘Things you have to do’ and column 2, ‘Things others can help you do. Next note which things need to be done that day or addressed soon and give yourself enough time. The best thing about a ‘to-do’ list is the sense of achievement you feel as you score things off. If you feel you’ve got a lot of work piling up, break it all down into smaller tasks and split them across a few days’ lists (a diary will come in handy here). If you don’t manage to complete everything on your list for the day, transfer any unfinished tasks onto the next day.
7. Laugh Often. Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, conflict and burnout. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Best of all, this medicine is free! So take some time out to be with people who make you giggle, who help you see the funny side of life and keep burnout at bay!
8. Get Enough Rest. Sleep deprivation can affect your health, memory, and mood. A consistent lack of sleep can result in reduced levels of concentration and things taking longer than usual, serious health issues, irritability and the inability to cope, and burnout. So it stands to reason that you should be looking for any and all ways to get more sleep, or good quality sleep, if you want to avoid burnout!
9. Know When To Stop! Knowing when to stop and take some time off may not be possible for everyone. But it is certainly worth looking at your employment contract and investigating your options. A the very least consider taking time off for a mental health day. Whatever the situation is, however long the duration, time off can rejuvenate your spirit and beat teacher burnout!
10. Start A Countdown. There’s something liberating about knowing you only have ten days until…Christmas holidays, end of term, or the end of the school year. Setting up a countdown can make things seem more bearable and achievable. Mark it off every day and congratulate yourself on being one day closer!
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