Teacher burnout is a prevalent thing inside most professional spaces, especially inside the education community. You have probably worked with someone who left teaching simply because it was no longer worth the toll on their mental health. In this post you will learn some ways you can avoid teacher burnout.
This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosure policy.
Let’s first address what burnout is. In 2019 the WHO (World Health Organization) included burn-out in the International Classification of Diseases.
They essentially say “burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”
They describe it by these three characteristics:
- lack of energy and/or feeling exhausted
- increased mental distance from your job (feeling negative, cynical, etc.)
- reduced professional efficacy
Any of those sound like you? I get it because I’ve been there.
Hopefully by the WHOs actions to add burnout to the list of diseases will help reduce the negative stigma around struggling with work burnout and eventually cause more guidelines to be put in place to reduce the chance of people getting burnt out in the first place.
First-Year Teacher Phases
Even if you aren’t a first year teacher, I think it’s important to see these phases that new teachers (and even veteran teachers) go through.
This information was empowering to me as a new teacher because when I was feeling defeated and question “what in the hell did I get myself into?” I was able to remind myself that this was normal!
5 Ways to Avoid Teacher Burnout
But even with that knowledge, it doesn’t make the feelings go away.
What do we do right now while we are working through burnout or trying to put practices in place to avoid getting burnt out in the future?
In this post I am giving you a preview of one of the first lessons inside The Organized Teacher Framework™.
Inside the framework, I teach the “cake” model of setting up a classroom. All cakes have to be assembled on top of a sturdy base. Each layer must be added on carefully and thoughtfully.
It’s the same way with your classroom.
Once the school year gets started, you will have so much going on that time management will be hard to maintain.
That is why I encourage teachers to set up a self-care and time management plan as the first “layer” or the “base” to their cake/classroom. (Which is what we do inside The Organized Teacher Framework™ course.)
This foundation of time management will help you avoid teacher burnout.
1. Set a Weekly Schedule
As teachers we can get so wrapped up in all that we have to do that we spend all our time at school, without even meaning to. Decide a schedule that works for your personal and professional life.
I suggest switching the narrative.
We usually celebrate leaving “early” (meaning at the end of our contract time) once or twice a week.
Instead, choose one or two days a week to be your “late” days. Then, the rest of the week you can leave on time knowing that you will be staying late later on in the week.
2. Create a Daily Schedule
I recommend assigning themes (or focuses) to your day.
You will always have a list a mile long of things to do. Instead of hitting each day head on and trying to tackle on the things on your to-do list, try assigning a theme to each day.
For example, Tuesday afternoons can be your “late” day as well as your “grading” day.
That means you don’t worry about grades Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, OR Sunday! This frees your brain up from stressing about when you will find time to get that next assignment graded.
Set focuses for your day or you can set a focus for each of your “alone times” at work. (Conference time and before or after school time)
3. Use Personal Days
I know, I know! I may have just used the most disgusting and vulgar word ever.
As a teacher, I was always told to save my personal days for “one day.” As a planner and worrier, I get that. And I did that!
But guess what? When I left the classroom to move abroad, I also left 20+ personal days that I could not be paid out for. My “one day” never came and I gave up twenty of them for it.
4. Positive Influences
Social media is no joke! Especially when it comes to Teachergram. The Pinterest Perfection and seeing all the great lessons other teachers are doing while you are just handing out a worksheet can make you feel like crap.
If you follow teacher people on Instagram that make you feel bad about yourself unfollow them YESTERDAY! It’s not worth it.
Make sure you have positive teachers in your life that you are getting wisdom and encouragement from. This goes for both IRL teachers and teachers online. One of the quickest ways to get burnt out in teaching is by surrounding yourself, or even having frequent conversations with the Negative Nancys on your campus.
5. Practice Saying No! (And not feeling guilty!)
And finally, you have to learn to get comfortable saying no.
My first two to three years of teaching I said yes to EVERYTHING!
Part of me saying yes was because I was new and excited and wanted to show myself as a leader.
Another part of me saying yes was because I was single and childless. This made me feel like it was my responsibility to take on more tasks than other colleagues who had families at home.
What I failed to neglect was that by saying yes to everything school related, I was saying no to everything me related.
And this can lead (and does lead) to burnout real quick.
Teacher burnout is a real thing so do not discount it if you are beginning to feel the symptoms of burnout.
However, there are some things you can do to set boundaries around your teaching life and hopefully help you to avoid teacher burnout.
- Set a weekly schedule
- Create a daily plan (theme your days)
- Use your personal days
- Surround yourself with positive educators
- Say no (and don’t feel guilty!)
Here’s a quick recap of some links I shared in this post (and on the podcast).
- The Organized Teacher Framework™
- Teacher Self-Care and What Happens When We Neglect It
- PowerSheets Goal Planner
- Prep for the First Day 3-Day Challenge
- Teacher To-Do List Workshop and Templates
- Why Pinterest Perfection Classrooms are Overrated
- 7 Time Saving Tips for Teachers
Until next time,
If you found this helpful, make sure to pin it to your Pinterest board so you can refer back to it or so other teachers can find it!