Teacher burnout has been described as an epidemic and teacher stress is higher than ever before. As the demands on teachers continue to rise, educators of all grade levels are finding themselves suffering from emotional and physical consequences. There are steps you can take as a teacher (both in and out of the classroom) to avoid burnout, decrease teacher stress, and help you enjoy the important work you do even more.
Please Note: I have a FREE How to Avoid Teacher Burnout Workbook available to complement this post. It will guide you through reflecting on your current practices, help you process the information I share in each post, and encourage you to follow through by creating action steps along the way.
There is too much to do and not enough time to do it. Every time a new initiative, assessment, report, or curriculum was given to us, a former colleague of mine used to always ask, “What can I take off my plate now that you are adding this?” She was never given an answer. Most new things are not replacements, but rather additions to the workload. This overload can cause symptoms of teacher burnout.
What are the signs of burnout in teachers?
- physical symptoms
- a lack of interest in job-related tasks
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How Do Teachers Deal With Burnout?
If you are experiencing teacher burnout there are some steps you can take to improve the situation.
Begin by reflecting on your classroom management strategies. When you implement consistent procedures and routines your classroom will begin to run itself which will greatly decrease behavior problems and make your days more enjoyable. If you want to learn more about tried and true management strategies that have proven to be effective, I have lots of resources on the blog to help: Classroom Management Page
Next, think about ways you can simplify your workload while still ensuring your students’ success. One of the greatest changes I made was switching to a nightly homework routine that eliminated my need to plan and prep assignments each and every day. By creating weekly homework packets of spiral review math assignments my students and their families knew exactly what to expect and the constant review of grade level skills saved me tons of time in needing to reteach forgotten concepts later in the year.
In addition to the spiral review math practice, the students each completed a nightly interactive reading bookmark and worked on a Paragraph of the Week assignment to improve their writing skills. I alternated Narrative Paragraphs and Opinion Paragraphs as weekly homework and would have them do the opposite in class each week during Writer’s Workshop.
These writing tasks, in conjunction with our Monthly Writing Prompts provided such consistency and routine and really lightened my workload.
Collaborate with colleagues. The people you work with should provide a support network to you. If specific students are causing you stress, reach out to your social worker or their former teacher for strategies.
If it is the workload, try teaming up with grade level teammates to divide up tasks such as copying and prepping for each subject area. If it is simply a matter of too many things to do then perhaps talking with your administration could help. Being open and honest can go a long way.
Finally, the best thing you can do is take control of your situation by finding ways to simplify your life and be proactive in managing the daily stressors in your life.
I have expanded on each of the tips below in GREAT detail in their own blog posts. I encourage you to read through each of them.
My first post in the series focused on Teacher Relaxation Ideas to implement outside the classroom. It details 7 different things you could do to manage your stress on a regular basis…best of all they are all actually enjoyable!
The tone of your entire day is set from the moment you get out of bed. If you experience chaos before leaving your house, you are going to be taking that stress to school with you and will not be in the right mindset to tackle the curve balls thrown your way.
Taking the time to organize your closet, streamline your wardrobe and develop habits for picking out your outfits in advance will make your morning run much smoother and the Teacher Outfit Tips to Save Time Each Morning post will make it easy.
The other way to not only make your mornings stress-free is to be prepared in the kitchen. The tips in this post about Fast, Quick, and Healthy Food Ideas for Busy Teachers has added benefits as well. It will save you time. It will save you money. It will help you eat healthier.
Speaking of saving money and eating healthier…Stopping at the grocery store after a full day of teaching is a guaranteed way to come home with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and a package of Oreos to wash it down. Your time is too precious to waste it walking the aisles and filling a cart with consumables. This post about Grocery Shopping for Teachers addresses some challenges and gives you solutions to make the process quick and painless.
We all have reasons we want to get and stay healthy. As teachers, it’s important that we take care of ourselves so we can be there for our students when they need us. In order to be healthy, we must develop healthy habits, which can take a while to master. When reading the post titled, Teacher Health and Wellness Ideas That Are Easy Enough to Actually Do, you will find some tips on what it really requires to be considered healthy and how you can develop these healthy habits to be your best self.
Nobody goes into the profession because of the salary. Many find themselves asking, “How can I earn extra money as a teacher?” This comes out of necessity and not greed. Unfortunately, finances are also a leading cause of stress and anxiety for teachers and some feel pressured to leave teaching to take higher paying positions. While I can’t increase your teaching salary, I do have some great tips (that I have personally used with success to live debt free) that will help you stretch your teacher paycheck further than you ever imagined. You can read about those in the How to Live Well on a Teacher Salary Using 10 Easy Strategies article.
When you are in a stressful situation, (getting ready to present at open house, welcoming parents to conferences, speaking at a meeting) you do not want to worry about a run in your tights, bad breath, or a headache on top of everything else. As teachers, things like broken nails or lunch forgotten on the kitchen counter at home can’t slow us down. Therefore, having a “Teacher Emergency Kit” in your classroom desk or closet is essential. These also make great gifts for your colleagues or your own child’s teacher.
Speaking of gifts, my last collection of ways to prevent burnout by keeping stress in check is to be well-prepared for the holiday season. You DESERVE the holiday break. You DESERVE to spend the season enjoying your family. Do not let yourself get so crazed with conferences, report cards, taming the wildness that is an elementary classroom in the weeks leading up to winter break, and all the other chaos of December that the holidays become an additional burden and not a joyous event.
• 20 Tips for Teachers
• 10 Printable Tools and Activities
• Editable Files
• Resource Links for December and January Packets
• Holiday Book Lists