Does Back to School Mean Back to Burnout?
It’s back to school time for many teachers with all the excitement and anticipation of a new class of students to know and love.
How can you keep the energy and enthusiasm going for the next nine months?
How can you maintain a positive focus in the midst of the negative press, a demanding schedule and ever-changing standards? It’s not easy but it’s possible.
Here are ten tips to prevent burnout and put the joy back in your teaching:
- Know your why: It’s easy to get lost in the details and demands of the teaching profession but my guess is that you went into it because you love learning and you love sharing that joy and enthusiasm with students. Renew and review that basic why on a regular basis.
- Set an intention for the year: It might be one word or a phrase that really excites you but create a focus for your teaching for the year. Maybe it’s leadership. Maybe it’s adventure. You decide, but pick a word or phrase to set the tone for the year. Share it with your students. Review it regularly. Post it in your classroom.
- Create a time of quiet focus each morning: It may be something you do before you leave the house or once you get to work. You decide the best environment to make it happen. You could even sit in your car for a few minutes once you arrive at work if you have trouble finding a quiet environment. Review your goals for the day. Read something inspirational. Get centered. Breathe. Meditate. Pray.
- Infuse your personality into your teaching: Although teaching methods may be getting more and more standardized and lacking in creativity, buck the system and be who you truly are at heart. Share your humor, your quirks, your story with your students. At the end of the year, what your students will remember is not the facts that you shared with them but the model, the example you set with your life.
- Learn to set boundaries: Most teachers are good at setting boundaries with their students but learning to set boundaries with parents and yes even the system is necessary. I understand that there are many things that you must do as part of the job, but too many teachers I know feel that they must say yes to everything that is asked of them. Make it clear that you have a life outside of your work and set boundaries around the time that you reserve for yourself and your family.
- Give up perfectionism: Some things don’t deserve the energy that you put into them to do them perfectly. Sometimes waiting to do something perfectly keeps us from doing it at all. You know where this tendency is holding you back and keeping you overworked and overwhelmed.
- Create systems and routines: Take care of the mundane routine chores of running a classroom by setting up systems whenever possible. Students also thrive on routine and knowing what to expect. You’ll both be happier and have energy for things that matter.
- Take care of you: It is easy to neglect your personal care and health during the school year because you are so busy, then try to make up for it over the summer break. To function at an optimum level you need to take good care of yourself all year. Eat a healthy diet that provides the energy you need. Get active and exercise. All. year. long.
- Build a positive support system: This is not the same as the teacher’s lounge where everyone complains and shares the latest gossip, but a place to get real support and help with difficult issues and situations. If you find that you are in a negative environment where everyone complains but doesn’t work together to find solutions—find another environment. You are the sum of the five people you hang around with the most and if everyone around you is negative… it will eventually rub off.
- Keep learning: If you are a teacher then I bet you love learning as much as you love teaching. Look for and create learning opportunities that excite you. Not only will you be a good model for your students but your enthusiasm will be contagious.
New!! Wyatt’s Little Book of Lesson Plans, Worksheets and Games
Just for you! Here are activities, lesson plans, discussion questions, coloring sheets, word search puzzles and games for each of the six Wyatt the Wonder Dog Books. Over 75 pages of ideas so that you can create lessons on cooperation, teamwork and leadership skills to quickly extend and incorporate the Wyatt stories.