I will shoot you straight, almost every single year in the past thirteen years in education I have Googled “what can I do with an education degree.” This year has been a little different though. Maybe I am just numb to the feeling, but I would like to think it is because I have done the emotional work and know myself better than years past. I can see mild depression and anxiety coming from a mile away and I know I have to face it head on. It is like Indiana in winter, I know it is going to be cold, so I grab my coat just like I can feel when anxiety is going to hit so I reach into my emotional toolbox and I phone a friend or schedule a personal day. Wait, Indiana weather is probably a bad example of something reliable!?
“It is incredibly true teaching can be a rewarding and fulfilling career, but it can also be one of the most demanding and challenging professions.”
It is incredibly true teaching can be a rewarding and fulfilling career, but it can also be one of the most demanding and challenging professions. Long hours, high stress levels, and the constant pressure to meet students’ needs can take a toll on even the most dedicated and passionate teachers. As a result, many teachers experience burnout at some point in their careers.
This burnout is characterized by feelings of exhaustion, frustration, and a sense of disillusionment. It can have a significant impact on a teacher’s well-being, as well as their ability to provide high-quality education to their students. I joined up with Amy Stevens and Melissa Walley to put together a how-to of surviving teacher burnout. Together we represent over 40 years of teaching, and each has had some sort of impactful burnout in our career. Here is what we came up with.
Know what type of burnout you are experiencing. Are you burned and unbalanced, burned and over it, or burned and bored? Check out Amber Harper: The Burned-in teacher and take the Burn Out Quiz.
- Recognize your signs of being overworked. Being aware of your signs of burnout allows you to tackle them head on or maybe even beat the feeling before it takes complete hold!
- Drop something. Take from your workload. Try not to take on too much at once, and don’t be afraid to delegate responsibilities when possible.
- Connect with other teachers. Reach out to colleagues, join a professional organization, or participate in online communities where you can connect with other teachers and share your experiences. Having a support system can help you feel less isolated and more motivated.
- Boost the quality of the social connections in your life. Make time for activities you love with people you love. Want to hang out with a friend, invite them for a walk. Join a book club! Make intentional time with your family.
- MOVE. Taking care of yourself both physically and mentally is essential for avoiding teacher burnout. Check out Kelly McGonigal’s book: The Joy Movement for ideas for intentional movement!
- Do not let comparison be the thief of joy! Do you ever feel like you are drowning and everyone around you is just floating around in success? Guess what? They probably feel just like you do! Know your strengths and lean in.
- Get Lit. Read and listen to podcasts to find tools for your emotional toolbox that will work for you in times of need.
• The Burned-In Teacher
• The Resilient Teacher
• Teacher Time
• “Don’t Just Survive, Thrive: A Teacher’s Guide to Fostering Resilience, Preventing Burnout, and Nurturing Your Love for Teaching” by SaraJane Herrboldt
• “The Passionate Teacher: A Practical Guide” by Bobb Darnell
• “Atlas of the Heart” by Brene Brown
- Find a routine that helps set you up for success. Our weeks are busy as educators. Do your best to get into routine and keep your time sacred.
- Quit putting off your life for ‘goalposts’. Try not to take on too much at once, and don’t be afraid to delegate responsibilities when possible. Set achievable goals but do not put off your happiness by waiting for your to do list to get done. Celebrate your successes, no matter how small.
“Surviving teacher burnout is possible, but it requires dedication and effort.”
Surviving teacher burnout is possible, but it requires dedication and effort. By prioritizing self-care, connecting with others, setting realistic goals, and seeking support when needed, you can recharge your batteries and continue to do what you love. Remember, taking care of yourself is not only important for your well-being but also for the well-being of your students.
If you would like to hear some Indiana teacher perspective on teacher burnout please check out Survivor Series – Surviving Teacher Burnout. Melissa, Amy, and I talk about recognizing signs of burnout, empathizing with personal stories, and giving our top ways to Survive teacher burnout. There is no one right answer, but hopefully educators who tune in can feel seen, heard, and walk away with one survivor tip that is authentic to them.