Teacher burnout is one of the biggest problems facing the American education system today.
In its worst-case scenario, burnout means you lose the will to teach. Students wear you down instead of energizing you. You slog through every weekend and dread the next school week.
When teachers get burnt out, everyone loses. The teacher, administrators, students, and even colleagues all feel the effects of one instructor losing the passion to teach.
So how do you keep your passion alive in an age of strict standards, individualized education, and other teaching challenges?
These seven methods are all proven to help prevent teacher burnout:
Indulge in personal time
Talk to your colleagues
Recognize what you do well
Prepare ahead of schedule
Leave schoolwork at school
Make yourself a priority
When you use them together, you can get through a school year (and even a single day) while staying happy.
1. Stay Healthy
Staying healthy is the single most important way to keep yourself happy and motivated throughout a school year.
Exercise is the best way to stay healthy. Set up a schedule for every day (or every other day) to work out. That could mean lifting weights, jogging, or even yoga. Regardless, you’re working out your body, which alleviates depression, anxiety, stress, and even Parkinson’s Disease.
Exercise also makes you feel ready for bed every evening. That’s important because sleep is the next way that you can stay healthy.
A good sleep schedule keeps your mind sharp. It also lets your body rejuvenate so you can meet the day with energy instead of fatigue. Aside from that, regular sleep schedules also help you deal with stress, anxiety, sadness, depression, heart issues, and way more.
Finally, you can keep yourself engaged in teaching by eating healthy. That means getting all the vitamins and minerals your body needs to stay in tip-top shape throughout your life.
Fresh fruit, complex carbohydrates, leafy greens, and hardy proteins form a healthy diet. When you stick to it, your body will show immediate improvement compared to snacks, soda, and other junk food.
By exercising, sleeping, and eating well, you’ll be physically and mentally prepared for the barrage of challenges throughout your school year. But staying healthy is just the beginning!
2. Indulge in Personal Time
It’s no secret that teachers have limited personal time. You work 10 hours per day in school, but you also have to plan lessons, grade tests, and remediate students, among everything else going on in your life.
But your personal time is just as important as your professional time — maybe even more important, depending on your priorities.
Hobbies are proven to make people happier, especially when you can actually enjoy them. That doesn’t mean you have to start buying model trains or Civil War history books. Hobbies can be as simple as bird watching. They can also be as complex as volunteering.
You can also just kick back, relax, and watch Netflix at the end of a long day. Regardless of what engages your mind during your free time, it should make you happy to indulge in those hobbies.
The point is that your free time matters. If you spend it working, you’re not actually away from work. Instead, you wind up working 12-18 hours every day with a brief break to sleep.
Teachers quickly burn out with that kind of schedule. But instead of overworking, you can find ways to enjoy your time away from work!
3. Talk to Your Colleagues
No one understands your frustrations and challenges better than your colleagues. Communicating with your peers is one of the best ways you can prevent burnout because they can offer you the best support.
After all, they perform a similar job in the same place. If anyone is going to understand your frustrations, it’ll be your colleagues.
On top of that, it’s important to establish relationships with your coworkers. Workplace friendships have a range of benefits in your life, including career satisfaction.
Besides, friends make their friends laugh. That means you can laugh off stress throughout your day instead of keeping it tensed up inside yourself.
You’ll probably help your fellow teachers feel more relaxed at the same time!
4. Recognize What You Do Well
As a teacher, it’s easy to get bogged down in what you do poorly. Whether parents are upset with a child’s grade or an administrator is giving you feedback, teaching often feels like the world is against you.
That’s why it’s so important to recognize what you do well throughout the year. Pride in what you do well can quickly make you happier when you see all of the great qualities you exhibit in the classroom.
Even if your best skills take place on off-hours — like grading or planning — you can see the positive results of that work every day. The key is to look for it.
Once you open yourself up to the positive results you produce, you can pride yourself on your abilities as an educator.
5. Prepare Ahead of Schedule
If you’re going to teach successfully, you have to have a solid plan going into each of your classes. Following a premade plan is much easier than playing a semester by ear.
If you’re not the planning type, it’s time to take a stab at laying out your lessons before the first day of class. You don’t have to outline an entire semester at a time, either. You can create and rework your class schedule at any point.
When you do, it’s important to give yourself enough time to get all your ducks in a row. You can do that before your weekend at any point. The most common time for teachers is on a Friday afternoon, usually right after school.
Teachers who wait until the last minute often plan lessons on Sunday night. That creates an effect called the “Sunday Blues” where teachers can’t enjoy their Sundays anymore. After all, now they’re workdays.
If you want to stay ahead of the Sunday Blues, you have to plan ahead.
6. Leave Schoolwork at School
When you want to keep yourself from burning out, the best idea is to create boundaries for yourself: keep work at work, keep home at home.
Segment the parts of your life that you think should be separate. This requires you to say no sometimes — to both personal and professional opportunities — but these boundaries will make you happier as a person.
You can start setting these boundaries for yourself by keeping your work at school. Draw a line in the sand. If you have to do some work after hours, do it at school. Keep home as the place where you can relax and enjoy time with loved ones.
This’ll also help you plan, indulge, and stay healthy too — all at the same time!
7. Make Yourself a Priority
Ultimately, to be a successful teacher and avoid burnout, you have to take care of yourself. When you're happy and healthy, you're a better teacher who can truly be there for your students.
If you're enjoying your life, you're more likely to enjoy your career. But when you burn out, even the smallest tasks become overwhelming chores. Keep yourself in good spirits by making your own wellbeing a priority.
This isn't to say that you should be self-centered. Instead, you should make sure you're living a healthy and balanced life where you can succeed at work and at home.
Rather than counting the days to retirement, you'll find it easier to love every moment in the classroom.
Prevent Teacher Burnout with Digital Curriculum
Each of these strategies can be critical in preventing teacher burnout. But sometimes you need backup to keep yourself going.
That’s why Applied Educational Systems makes digital curriculum solutions with a learning management system.
We help health science, business education, career readiness, and computer teachers enjoy their lives by streamlining their responsibilities in one simple tool.
Want to learn more?
Click below to learn everything you need to know about digital curriculum!