Burnout is that sickening feeling in the pit of your stomach when you feel you want to run from the school, you struggle to get excited about anything related to teaching, you resent the constant feeling of being overwhelmed. Teacher burnout is often a standard hazard of the job in the months of late October and November which coincides with shorter days, setting our clocks back, report cards are due, and flu and cold symptoms abound, students begin to get an attitude, more emails appear each day, and more parent conferences.
A deeper, more troublesome teacher burnout may occur when the teaching assignment requires that every 5th grade teacher must teach the same story at the same time, the same unit in math, schedule tests on the same day, which leaves little time for one's own curriculum passions.---No time for core novels, no time for problem of the month, no time for poetry. Experiencing this rigid curriculum lock step, a teacher's spirit is broken and burn out occurs. There must be a balance that allows time for teacher's curriculum creativity. In addition, burnout occurs with new teachers to the profession when they find their ideas are not appreciated by their colleagues; they are left to fend for themselves; they lack even the most elemental supplies to properly run a class. Teaching is so selfless, exhausting, demanding, complex that teachers need a great deal of support from one another to revitalize their spirit.
Excellent educators hold our nations success in their hands; we can not let burn out draw them away from the profession. So what can a teacher do to hang on when they are in the pit dip?
* Brain Breaks aren't just for students! Teachers need them too! Instead of going to the teacher's room every day, maybe put on some quiet music in your classroom and spend the lunch period in your own quiet space rejuvenating your spirit. I love the spa music channel on my Pandora App! I also stash a few of my favorite magazines in my desk. Flipping through the pages of O magazine is a nice brain break. Sometimes I take the testing offices my students use and put it up on my desk. Then I literally put my head down on my desk and take deep breaths. Privacy and Zen!
* Give yourself permission not to grade everything.
* Take your most disruptive student and pledge to spend 5 minutes each day talking with him/her for 5 days and see the positive results.
* If you have a long commute, try to car pool, decide to move closer to your school site, listen to a funny audiobook.
* Once a month or more schedule time to pamper yourself, a massage, a hike with friends, frozen yogurt with bright colored sprinkles, improv comedy night!
* Keep positive affirmations in your desk that will help boost your spirit. I have Don't Sweat The Small Stuff For Women right by my computer!
* If your grade level colleagues are not supporting you, reach out to teachers in a higher or lower grade.
* Listen to people around you; if they are saying you look tired or you are always getting sick, take their advice and schedule a day off to revitalize.
* Just like your Mom said: get plenty of sleep, eat your vegetables and get some exercise.
This too shall pass.
*Your first year of teaching and a masters?!?!?! I see it all the time with new teachers. Pace yourself. The masters will come LATER.
*Close the pinterest app! Step away from the computer and hours spent stalking teacher blogs! You can quickly get overwhelmed by all the amazing ideas, possibilities, cute classrooms and veteran teachers doing amazing things in their classrooms. Step away!
*Set the reminders app on your iPhone or alarm clock. Have the alarm remind you when to leave your classroom! No more late night holed up in your room. Get out of there!