Don’t Let Your Calling Burn You Out
You went into your teaching career like gangbusters — excited, energetic, oozing creativity, eyes all atwinkle. But the weight of daily stress can begin to deflate those feelings of satisfaction and ambition and dull your passion. And, if left unchecked, can lead to burnout.
Burnout is one of the most common reasons that teachers leave their calling. When the stress of your profession is left unchecked it can spiral into something more. True burnout is a psychological condition that can cause depression, anxiety, and other health issues. So stay aware. Stay positive. And take a proactive approach to keeping burnout at bay.
General symptoms of burnout include:
- Lower resistance to illness
- A pessimistic outlook on work and/or life
- Physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion
- Detachment in professional and personal relationships
- Lowered productivity
- Behavioral changes
- Chronic headaches
- Depression and self-doubt
When teachers burn out, everyone loses.
It’s no secret that teachers work hard. You work seven hours teaching in the classroom, but then there are lessons to plan, assessments to grade, students to tutor and remediate, and parents to contact — on top of everything else going on in your personal life.
If you find teaching starting to pull you down and time off doesn’t seem to be helping, it might be time to look at what’s important to you now and determine where some of your struggles may be coming from. Teacher burnout can often be avoided with a few easy shifts in your routine.
Keep work at work and home at home. It’s easy to pour yourself into your classroom. When you do work you truly care about, it’s hard to shut down. But it’s important to remember to pour yourself into your personal life as well. It may be difficult to leave your mind at school when the day is over but it’s an important step in preventing burnout.
Be conscious about how much you are taking home. If you have work to do after the school day, finish it before you leave for the day if possible. Keep home your place to relax and enjoy time with your family and friends. If you must take work home, limit how much time you spend on lesson-planning and grading. Schedule the best time for you to do your work and stick to the schedule.
Avoid “Sunday Blues.” To be successful in the classroom, it’s important to plan. But planning can take time away from your weekend if you’re not organized and careful to compartmentalize.
The most common time for teachers to plan is Friday afternoon, preferably right after school. If you can find the time during the week to plan and grade, you can avoid making your weekend days workdays. Schedule time within your week to plan and save your weekends for you.
Make yourself a priority. When you enjoy your life, you’re more likely to enjoy your career. Keep yourself in good spirits by making yourself a priority.
- Dedicate time to your hobbies.
- Schedule self-care time.
- Create healthy sleeping habits.
- Invest in your health through nutrition and exercise.
By prioritizing yourself, you’re strengthening your ability to be the teacher you’ve always strived to be. If you find it difficult to include such activities into your packed schedule, give yourself time to evaluate how you’re spending your time.
Be a butterfly. Socializing with your colleagues is a great way to find the support you may need. After all, no one understands your frustrations and challenges better than those who do what you do. They can offer advice, commiserate, and help you find perspective for your struggles.
Besides, friends can help you laugh. Laughing during the day can help alleviate your stress and bring light back into a tough day.
Remember why teaching is your calling. There’s never a better time to remember your reasons for teaching than when you’re feeling drained. Journal about your old and new dreams for teaching. Talk with other colleagues about why your job is important. Read the reasons other teachers teach. Reignite your passion for teaching by remembering why you started in the first place.
When you find your optimism waning and your energy depleting, you may be experiencing the first signs of burnout. Find ways to return to the energy and excitement of your early days. Everyone struggles from time to time, but you don’t have to let it steal your passion. Pay attention. Be honest with yourself. And actively work to stop burnout from robbing your joy. You were called to teach. It’s written on your heart. You owe it to yourself and the kids in your classroom to keep that calling loud and clear.
Ashley is an award-winning copywriter and content expert with more than a decade of proven results for national and local clients. From brainstorming high-end conceptual content to styling sentences that engage and convert, she’s got a knack for shattering the status quo. When she’s not in full-on writing mode, she’s hanging out with her rascal of a puppy and discussing the plausibility of unicorns with her 8-year-old daughter.