What to do when you feel the burn...

22 January 2016
Teacher Burnout: When the Candle has been Snuffed Out

We’ve all had the articles and tips on teacher burnout printed, copied, and laid in our mailbox, or emailed to our inboxand even “Picked for you!” on Pinterest(how dare you Pinterest!)  The picture that usually accompanies such literature is one of a teacher with perfect hair, makeup, clothing, and her choirs of heavenly angels gathered at her feet, waiting with eager eyes to have the fruits of her training poured into their ever thirsting minds.
Mmhmmm

Well, what if you’ve gone past that threshold of trying to “prevent” and have had that flame snuffed out?  More than likely, if you have done any of the following activities in the past few weeks, months, days, hours, minutes, you could very well be experiencing teacher burnout.
  1. Looked at job openings in other districts, colleges, or jobs in general other than in the field of education.
  2. Looked at your VRS or retirement and calculated the “If I walked out now” sum of money you would accrueyeah, mine was like $200 a month :/
  3. Crawled under your desk to hide from your students.
  4. Crawled under your desk to hide from your administrator(s).
           Now I’m kidding about the last two

We know that most days when we walk in, the day will be long, you will be frustrated, and you may want to throw something fragile and of value at something or someone. There may be certain sentence enhancers that are dancing with pitchforks at the end of your tongue. The point is, it does take a certain type of breed to teach and endure in the field. If done well, it’s not an 8-3 job, Monday Friday. It takes heart, compassion, thick skin, and usually an anxiety/antidepressant prescription as well.

          Well, I’m burned out, what now?
Fall back on your teacher training.
I recall my classroom management professor bragging that my alma mater had a higher rate of teachers remaining in the field than other colleges in Virginia. It was because of our “training”. Well, not to bust his very full bubble, but about 5% of what I paid for at that college actually helped me4% of it being the paper my diploma was printed on.  I’m here to tell you that most of what you do in the classroom, beyond the theory, is common sense.  If you have common sense, fall back on that. It will most definitely serve you better than any assignment on shape poems and essays on the Pythagorean theory.
We tell the kids this all the time...take care of you.  Well, the teacher needs to follow that advice!
Yes, I know that is one of the first things in that stupid article in your mailbox, but again, it is one of the most common sense things you can do.  Sleep in late on Saturday. “Accidentally” leave your to-do list at school on Friday. Drink a glass (or bottle) of wine with your girlfriends. Cuss a little (or a lot.) Take a long, hot bath with your tablet and play Candy Crush Saga. Do something that is non-educational. My mom and I always talk about doing stupid things to de-stressit usually involves fire or the computer. Get your nose out of the books!!  My hero Aaron Rodgers said it best, "R-E-L-A-X!"
Everyone needs a good circle of friends.
There is nothing better than a friend or friends you can vent to.  Husbands/wives are good, but you really need someone that can relate to what you are doing each day.  Don’t hold back either.  Get everything off your chest.  If Johnny did something stupid at school today, tell them it was STUPID. You are with a fellow educatorPC can go away.  However; confidentiality should not. Remember that.  You don’t need half of your small town knowing what happened in your classroom because YOU did something STUPID!
Mess = Stress!
There is nothing more stressful than not being prepared.  Monday through Friday get your crap together during the week. You don’t want Monday morning coming around and having your administrator pulling you out from underneath your desk because you didn’t get your plans done. Don’t do it to yourself.
Don't take yourself so seriously. Yes, you are the teacher, yes, you are the authority figure in the classroom, but for everything holy in education, please find a minute or two each day to throw out a stupid joke or silly story to your kids. At least this way, when half of their parents ask them at home “Whatdidya learn at school today?” they have an annoying knock-knock joke to tell at dinner. and at bathtime. and at bedtime. Give them some humor. Some of their lives suck enough as it is.  And believe it or not, laughing will make you feel better. Could even burn a calorie or two. And what a boost you’ll have if you can squeeze back into your “pre-September” shorts at the end of the year, too!

Truth is, I don’t think there is any way to fully prevent being burned out. We see what crap some of our kids come from and it drags us down. We know we have to be the second mommy, nurse, cook, psychiatrist, and safe house for these kids. But remember, when we have a bad day, they will have a bad day. Don’t blow out their flame because yours flickered out. Take time to rejuvenate and become human again. Love yourself and love others. Your students and career will thank you for it.



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