Burnout in the Education Field
Raise your hand if you’re already experiencing burnout this school year. Me too. But c’mon guys, it’s only October. Clearly we’ve got to figure out something if we’re gonna make it to June…
I always find myself giving the same excuse whenever I get burnt out: I’m too busy to take a break. A break would be nice, but I’ll pay for it later. This is the worst excuse ever. As educators, it is our job to remain calm, smiley, and attentive at all times. That is literally THE MOST important part of our job. Teaching young minds requires patience and enthusiasm (conveniently the first two things that go out the window during times of burnout). It’s time to take a break, guys.
Leave It At Work
Now, these tips take a lot of work. You actually have to follow them in order for them to be successful. So when I say leave it at work, I mean it! Leave the lesson plans, the grading, the bulletin displays…it is so important as teachers to have a clear division between work and home. If you absolutely MUST bring stuff home with you, try only bringing a small amount (or even better, give yourself one hour after last bell to get stuff done). Home needs to remain a haven of peace and relaxation!
Let Them Be Little
I can’t stress this enough in early childhood: these kids are really little. When working with them all day, every day, it’s easy to let your expectations guide your teaching. Remember (especially in moments of frustration) just how little these children are. They grow up too fast as it is. Taking some time to play is important for the students–and for you, too!
Support Each Other
One of the main reasons why I left mainstream school/daycare was because of what went on behind the scenes. In a predominantly female career choice, there is SO. MUCH. DRAMA. C’mon guys! Teaching is hard enough as it is…don’t you think it would be easier if we all had each others’ backs? If you’ve got some extra time, offer to help the teacher next door with prep. Maybe one day she’ll return the favor!
I’m sure that for a lot of you, going home doesn’t necessarily mean rest and relaxation. With kids, pets, friends, family, AND significant others, your day doesn’t end at last bell. While it’s important to put in some face-time with the special people in your life, make sure to schedule some alone time for yourself. It may be reading, a bubble bath, a run, or a creative outlet. Whatever it may be, you have to have something.
Create A Balanced Schedule
Keeping your students busy at school is so important for learning to occur. It’s also important, however, to remember exactly how learning can occur. Rather than stuffing each day full of dozens of activities, remember to include some fun stuff as well. Kids need fresh air, play, and exercise in order to learn and avoid burnout (yes, kids become burnt out too!). Including those important “play breaks” into your school day is important for both you and your students.
Remember Why You Started
Anyone here teaching but doesn’t like kids? No? I figured. It is SO easy to allow colleague relations and school politics get in the way of what’s truly important: the kids. We’re all here because we absolutely love working with children and helping them grow. Keep that in mind the next time you have a rough day. Remember what’s important.
Pinterest is my best friend and my absolute worst enemy. Most of my lesson plans come from there, and it’s so easy to quickly pin great ideas for future units! Use Pinterest to make your life easier–create a board for each unit, and build your lessons on those boards. The more prepared you are, the better! Your students may also love to help prep lessons…when I do any sort of collage, my kids are in charge of finding materials, ripping up tissue paper, etc.
On the other hand, have you seen the teachers on there?! Their work belongs in the Louvre, not on bulletin boards in the public school system! While it is SO inspiring to gawk at the education-related world of Pinterest, it’s important to remember that not everyone’s work is going to look like that. After all, you and your students should be focused on process, not product. It’s pretty safe to say that those children may not have been too involved in the process.
Taking breaks may be the most important tip on here, guys. Even the best teachers have moments of weakness and frustration (even if they’re not burnt out!). It will always be better to take a break and remove yourself from a situation than to risk yelling at a child or hurting their feelings. Strong, positive, healthy relationships between teachers and students are the basis for learning.