Let's talk about the elephant in the room… teacher burnout. This topic has hit the teaching world hard over the last few years. Maybe you are feeling burnt out, maybe it's your teacher bestie, or perhaps it's the teacher down the hall. The fact is, you probably know a burnt out teacher. We all do!
What is Teacher Burnout?
Teacher burnout as defined by ChatGPT (Have you used it yet? Neat Tool!),
“Teacher burnout refers to a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that results from prolonged exposure to high levels of stress and demands associated with teaching.
It is a condition that affects educators who have become overwhelmed by the demands of their job, which may include heavy workloads, long hours, challenging students, difficult working conditions, and limited resources, among other factors.
Burnout can manifest in a range of symptoms, including fatigue, anxiety, depression, reduced job satisfaction, and a decline in the quality of teaching. It can also lead to physical health problems and can have a negative impact on the teacher's personal and professional life.”
The Lonely World of Burnout
It can be a lonely place if you have ever felt burnout creeping up on you. I think teachers by nature are high-achievers, so burnout can leave you feeling like you're not enough.
Teaching has been HARD in recent years, taking a serious toll on educators everywhere. It's important to note that everyone's hard is different. What your hard looks like may not be what the teacher's hard next door looks like. I think that's a big reason it sometimes feels so lonely.
I'm here to tell you – you are not alone.
I saw this quote once or twice before, and I think it's so fitting…
Just because someone carries it well, doesn't mean it isn't heavy.”
Give Yourself Grace
I think many of us can use the reminder that it is OK to feel your feelings.
Give yourself grace while facing burnout head on. Teaching is demanding. If you feel like you're alone in this feeling, seek support! You may be surprised that others are feeling the same as you.
If you're not feeling burnt out but suspect a teacher friend is, open the door for conversation. They just may be looking for the right person to listen!
I don't know what kind of accounts you follow on social media, but I feel like the general topic of setting boundaries is huge right now!
Reflecting on what about teaching makes you feel burnt out can help you identify if boundaries need to be established.
Does that extra after-school activity need to come off your plate? Send an email asking for it to be delegated to someone else next school year. Are you “carrying the team” during planning sessions? Ask a teammate to lead the planning period next time!
Setting boundaries looks different for everyone and every situation. But small things can add up. So, start by setting small boundaries, and maybe you'll feel a little relief from the stress of burnout.
Switch Up Your Work Environment
At this point, you may just be trying to make it until the end of the year. So switch up your work environment and give yourself a fresh space.
As the weather gets nicer, take your plan time outdoors for some fresh air. Eat lunch outside with a friend. Take your class outside with clipboards and their work (TIP: Bring extra pencils! I've learned this the hard way!). A change in environment can have a big impact on mental health.
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If you are feeling the stress of teacher burnout, I want you to know you are not alone. Your best IS enough right now. You have so many other teachers out there rooting for you!
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