How do I know that it’s time to leave and get some air? Am I a restless professional? My work pays well and it literally feeds my family. This profession gives me stability and security. I was glad that I landed a teaching position fresh from college.
Recently, however, I have been feeling so incomplete and unfulfilled! Does stress eat me out? I hate to ask this. But, am I depressed? To what degree? Well, I thought, no way could this make me leave teaching life! I have to find incredible ways on how to prevent teacher burnout!
I have been successful as a teacher. I am certain of that. However, behind the walls of my achievements were hidden struggles and I got soaked up in the atmosphere of darkness unknowingly. What’s wrong with me? Or shall I say, what’s wrong with the people around me? Out and about, I felt the gloomy atmosphere.
Over the years, I have been with learners with different learning styles. Similarly, I have dealt with people of different personalities and expectations. Oh! Sometimes, my balance tipped over!
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Clamoring for Modes of Discipline in the Past
I belong to the millennials. During our times, life was different and our behavioral patterns were exactly the opposite of what our students have nowadays. In fact, as a teacher in Junior High School, I rarely hear greetings of ‘Good morning’ or ‘Good afternoon’ when we meet them outside the school campus. Sadly, most of them just see us their teachers as their coequals!
Schools of today strive to be more student-friendly. We, teachers, are very careful in imposing discipline on our students. As we do our best to correct students’ misbehavior and to implement the systematic behavior management of our students, we find ourselves being stressed out.
Yes, I have seen the exact opposite in our students. They love to make noise and they just can’t keep silent. My best solution though is to set high behavioral expectations which my students are expected to meet. Indeed, my behavior management plan really helps.
However, there are instances that I am just about to explode. Then, I realize, that I am a human being after all. I am prone to stress, too. I can be a victim of teacher burnout too!
Coping With the Demands of the Teaching Profession
Just like any other profession in the world, teaching requires hard work and perseverance. Tasks are very time-consuming and should be result-driven. For one to succeed in the field, he/she should have a sack full load of patience! Yet, despite all the challenges, teaching stands out to be one of the rewarding yet very demanding careers. It demands efficiency and all!
As teachers, we have been spending long hours in school. Our heavy workloads which include the paperwork not to mention our extra ancillaries can make us victims of teacher burnout. And, it is dangerous to our physical and mental health. That is why I really find time to look for incredible ways on how to handle teacher burnout.
What Is Teacher Burnout?
According to Clemente I. Diaz of the American Psychological Association, burnout is “actually work-induced depression or extreme work-related stress categorized by emotional, psychological, and physical exhaustion which is a modern-day epidemic in the teaching profession.
Based on the 2017 Educator Quality of Work Life Survey of the American Federation of Teachers, “61 percent of teachers admitted that their teaching jobs were often stressful. Likewise, 58% of the teacher-respondents said that one of the alarming results of that stress was poor mental health.” This was indeed very alarming. Obviously, this is still one of the challenges today!
This 30-question survey showcased the randomly picked teachers’ personal views on the quality of their work lives. It was further highlighted in the said 2017 survey that, “districts that fail to recognize the importance of educator well-being may be faced with higher turnover, more teacher and staff health issues, and greater burnout, all of which leads to higher costs, less stability for kids and, ultimately, lower student achievement.”
Well, teachers, we need to cope up because seriously, this is happening to us too. We should find the best dimensions to soften burnout before we find ourselves planning to leave the profession, especially for beginning teachers.
Teacher burnout is real! Before breaking out, get more insights by watching the video below!
What Are the Causes of Teacher Burnout?
Before we cite the possible solutions or recommendations on how to cope up with teacher burnout, let’s discuss first the causes of this epidemic of teachers.
What really makes us teachers burn out? Is it really primarily because of our students’ behaviors? Or is it more of work-environment-related stuff like lack of administrative support, pressures from superiors, and the like?
Based on my experiences as a teacher, I can say that many factors can cause this job-related stress. It could emanate from our own heavy workloads down to our classroom everyday issues. Let me see if we share the same list of causes.
On a personal tone, yes! Too much paperwork tends to lose my balance as a teacher. Yes, the pile management syndrome hits me like a rock! The existence of too many reports and the like barred me along the way. Ultimately, too much paperwork causes stress on my end.
This paperwork is really overwhelming as it begins to come into my dwelling. Out of my busy schedule, I sometimes practice the “back to it later” scheme which actually drags me to tip-off! I think this is also happening to anyone because if not, then, paperwork wouldn’t have been an issue. The clutter can cause stress!
Let’s admit it at some point in our career, classroom management poses harsh realities that really put too much pressure on us. As teachers, classroom management is often very challenging, especially for new teachers. Burnout in teachers is sometimes related to classroom stress.
When I was still new in the teaching field, classroom management really tested my management skills. Classroom realities which included student-teacher relation which was highly affected by student’s lack of motivation to learn and misbehavior made me really exhausted. I almost gave up. However, at some point, I felt a great deal of answering the question, ” How can I fix this?”
There are situations in the workplace that really discourage us. No matter how determined and aggressive we are in terms of our work, we still find ourselves being stressed out with pressures from our superiors.
At times, we get overwhelmed with the expectations of veteran teachers. Meeting their expectations, as well as those who are around us, puts pressure on us in certain ways.
Sometimes our great optimism fades out of the blue because of constantly changing systems. As we get accustomed to our practices, we find it difficult to adjust to new approaches and to a handful of changes more oftentimes. All these things add pressure us not to mention the lack of support by the administration.
Moreover, our stress hovers around the issue of how to handle “colleague back-biting”. Unfortunately, it is very common in any workplace. They are colleagues who are belittlers, slackers, finger pointers, and more types of backstabbers. Commonly, these people are just thinking for themselves and are pathetic!
Definitely, workplace gossips and personal woes are killing me too! Do we share the same story of backstabbing coworkers? They feed us negative thoughts and offer us a feeling of inferiority.
Our superiors or the veterans can be so negative and constantly pick on us. They can be very toxic at times and they are adding to our burden every day. If we can’t find a perfect outlet, these people will deteriorate us completely.
But, certainly, I end up asking myself, “Can I not adjust?” Will I allow this ton of overlap to stress me out and make me leave the service?” Well, my answer is a big “No way!” I won’t let these issues detach me from my teaching career! No way will this make me feel less effective!
The challenge is on and I accept it. I know that both you and I are working hard to stay in the teaching profession because it gives meaning to our existence. It’s just a matter of bringing out incredible ways of coping with teacher burnout.
Now, are these things enough reasons for us to quit? For me, these are just challenges that can be transformed into great opportunities!
So, never fret nor frown! It will make us ugly. To keep me shining and beautiful, let me reveal my mesmerizing ways of handling teacher burnout! I hope it will work for you too.
9 Incredible Ways on How to Prevent Teacher Burnout
1. Set Clear Work Boundaries
What’s intended for school should be done in school and what’s supposedly for the home should be enjoyed at home! This is my way out of cynicism. However, on an occasional thread, there are instances that work-related stuff like attending seminars and advance planning of classroom activities may take the view at home. How do I deal with it?
I set a certain time frame for making preparations and some other work-related activities without sacrificing my precious time for myself and for my family.
I never let tons of paperwork destroy my precious time with my family. I set boundaries. I know that teaching has been an important part of my identity but it doesn’t make me forget my responsibilities as a mother. No way will it be the reason for disappointments to my children.
With my best organizational skills, things will work out fine. I will not let chronic stress eats my energy. Of course, I always work hard both at home and in school; however, I make sure that these things don’t overlap! Does this make sense?
2. Make Use of Varied Learning Activities
If poor classroom management is one of the causes of teacher burnout, then as teachers we should design our classrooms for active learning. Promoting collaborative learning experiences will help maintain students’ focus. And, this is what we want right?
With the advent of technology and modernization, our students clamor for more interesting activities. They hate it when a teacher just sits and lectures them about the world. It makes them restless and the results will stress out the teacher.
By introducing new activities in the classrooms, we are creating a more productive and positive learning environment. Once our students are engaged, they will participate actively in the different group activities and learning will turn out to be so fun and exciting!
3. Find Time to Rest and Relax
I am more than my job! My life is precious and I won’t literally commit suicide by being a workaholic! Yes, I am a hard-working teacher and my achievements can attest to that. But, my love for work should not hinder me in setting out time for recuperation. I am a teacher and not a wonder woman after all!
I need time to rest and relax. My weekends should be maximized for relaxation and family bonding. My family, especially my kids, gives me the finest time to relax. Bonding with them makes me forget the struggles and school issues.
To ensure balance in my life and career, I have to set the best schedule that will work out for me and for my family. I am both workaholic and family-oriented, but I never forget to keep my balance. I know when is the best time to check emails, to grade and record my students’ outputs, and rest and relax.
Whatever happens, I make sure to stick to the schedule I set for myself. It’s just a matter of prioritizing and organizing things. At some point, this may alter but I always find for best alternatives to rest and relax. I need it knowing how demanding my roles are. Hence, it is extremely important to take extra time for myself. This is my body and I have my decisions.
4.Tap and Apply Best Organizational Skills
If possible, I avoid staying up late at night grading papers. Although I am into getting things done as scheduled, no way shall it make me feel relentless!
By developing my filing system and my prioritizing skills, I can save time for myself and I can avoid frustrations. Sorting out my files work wonders too and developing a system for file management helps me take away clutter and reduce stress.
I have to do something with too much paperwork! I know it has been part of my teaching profession because I understand that it has been on an incredible evolution!
I organize things both in school and at home. I don’t like taking my work home. It deprives my family of quality time that we both deserve. Sundays are for us. It’s our best time to bond and unwind. Spending quality time with my family releases work-related tensions.
5. Find Time to Burn Calories!
To get relieved from stress and anxiety, always find time to exercise! Yes, exercise is one of my best ways for stress management. When I was still teaching in the rural area, I enjoyed the walking distance of our home to school. I enjoyed walking under the sunshine every morning and made the most of the sunset every afternoon after class.
Pay attention to your health line and take time to stretch and flex! Designate time for exercise. Even in the classroom, my students are enjoying it. Before I begin the day, I will make sure that my students are ready.
Having the early 20-minute morning exercise will contribute to their wellness. I believe that they are stressed out too. I am sensitive to their well-being too!
In between lessons, my students and I do chair yoga to break the ice. Our chair yoga routines help us release tensions and stress quickly. Moreover, this activity aids in improving the correct posture. And, my students love it!
At home, I do Zumba. It’s my way of releasing my tensions. The dance moves make me release mental stress and anxiety. And, I do it regularly. The more I enjoy my exercise routine, the more I decrease my stress hormones and the more release endorphins! Endorphins are helpful chemicals that help improve our mood.
I have so much fun dancing that I forget my problems momentarily. At least, I find time to forget them and get them out of my system! Burning 600 to 1,000 calories in just an hour helps me de-stress and improves my cardiovascular respiratory system in shape.
I also listen to my favorite tunes while recollecting the best happenings in my life!
6. Maintain Good Self-regulatory Skills
Who says teachers are not allowed to get angry? Of course, we are and we do! But we do it in a way that will not make us less of a teacher. I know that adults like us have our ways of managing our emotions. We are not robots and obviously, we share the same emotions with other people much more with our students on varying degrees.
As we are teaching our students how to acquire, we have to manifest it in ourselves first. Take a pause and breathe. When the behavior of my students annoys me, I have to compose and collect myself.
On the other hand, increasing self-regulatory skills in our students is a big help in this scenario. The more they are practicing self-control, the more they perform better in the classroom, the less stressful it will be on our part. It reduces stress and increases your and your students’ well-being.
The noise in the classroom sometimes is getting our nerves. The creative routes of students in getting us irritated can really drive us crazy at times! Our multiple roles in the classroom sometimes make us stressed out and pull off.
In this case, I take an antidote of developing self-control. I don’t expect to get a perfect classroom scenario for each teaching day. Despite my classroom management skills, things can still fall through the cracks.
Always be conscious of where you’re heading at. Never let your downtrodden emotions get in the way. Most conflicts surface due to a lack of self-control.
Amid life’s struggles and difficulties, I learn to compose myself. I know it will bring me no good if I will let my emotions take over my rational being.
Try it! It can be adapted to any fitness level anyway! Furthermore, having an exercise routine such as dancing, walking, swimming, yoga and the like will help us get relieved of stress and eventually promote mental well-being!
7. Make Use of Your Hobby
What do you love doing during your spare time? Personally, I love reading inspirational journals and books. Getting into the midst of budding authors keeps me inspired. Probing into great minds enrich my experiences as well.
I copy quotable quotes and inspiring lines and keep them in my conference notebook. More oftentimes, I share the best lines in the classroom by having them on a tarp and display them on the walls of my classroom.
Aside from reading, I also enjoy backyard gardening. With limited space at home, I make use of recycled plastic bottles as pots. I made them colorful by painting them.
Besides, backyard gardening and growing flowers are also forms of outdoor exercise. I sweat all over when I cultivate the soil and it makes me feel so good and energized! This can perhaps the best role for me when I retire in the field.
Seeing my plants bearing fruits relieves the hard days in school and it is very exciting! I just can’t imagine the great joys my tomatoes, eggplants, bell pepper, and many more bring to my life.
Growing my vegetable garden helps me in terms of general health and wellness. Moreover, my whole family benefits from my hobby too. I offer them a fresh taste of a garden.
8. Travel and Spend Precious Time With your Family
When our budget permits, I usually schedule a trip to the countryside once in a while. My kids really love to visit their grandparents in the country. And, I extremely love it too. Taking a glimpse of the countryside reminds me of being happy with simple things in life.
Going to the country is rewarding. I find it an outlet to let go of my busy days in the classroom. Our small farm in the countryside makes me really breathe in genuine relaxation. For me, traveling to the countryside is having a glimpse of nature in its purest form.
The greater abundance of green trees and grass makes me forget work pressures. My family takes wonderful benefits too. Their laughter under the open sky makes me really relaxed and satisfied.
9. Avoid a Potential Backstabber in the Workplace
Since we can’t stop or avoid backstabbing taking place, let’s just walk away from toxic people in the work environment and maintain a healthy and positive attitude towards ourselves, students, and the school. We can get over this syndrome by maintaining healthy relationships with other people.
Being aware of the presence of backstabbers in the workplace should neither make us inferior nor lose our balance. Just be yourself, stay smart, and confident. Never let these people butcher your worth as a person and as a teacher. Remember, a colleague can’t defeat your confidence and make you appear inferior if you won’t let him/her.
Our job as teachers is very demanding. Certainly, at some point in our careers, we fall prey to teacher burnout. However, we should never cease to promote high-quality learning for our students. No matter how overwhelming situations can become, we should not forget that our learners deserve our great efficiency as teachers.
Stress should not prevent us from going the extra mile for our class. If you are a teacher like me, then maybe we can share simple ways of not getting burnt out! Let’s help one another to prevent it. Let’s be vibrant!
Do you have tips that you would like to share? Share your burnout-reduction ways in the comment section below! We are excited to hear your thoughts!