Calling all Teacheraholics! This post is for you! Do you ever feel like there should be a 12 step program for teacher burn out? If you are a devoted, selfless… well if you are a TEACHER then you probably have felt the need for some way to break the bad habits that so many teachers fall into. Isn’t that what a 12 step program is all about?
This is exactly where I found myself just 18 months ago. You may wonder why my poor blog has had tumbleweeds rolling across the screen when you visit and the truth is…I was just tired! I was tired of all the “stuff” that comes with being a teacher.
Tired of admin who didn’t listen, tired of being that odd round peg trying to fit into a square hole. I was tired of students who didn’t care, tired of parents who cared even less and above all TIRED of pouring my heart and soul into an absolutely thankless profession.
Now before the comments roll in about how we don’t do this job for the money or we should be doing it for the love of our kids, let me reassure you I wouldn’t have been doing this for 15 years if didn’t love my students and didn’t love the calling that was put on my life to become a teacher. But the truth is, I was burnt out. Totally, thoroughly, and from head to toe I was suffering from TEACHER BURN OUT!!
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Eighteen months ago I took a step back. I stepped out of the classroom and took a long hard look at what I was doing, and more importantly NOT DOING, that was making me hate going to work each day! Stepping back into the classroom this year meant making some changes.
Even though I loved my students and their little smiles and light bulb moments fueled me to keep going, I was sinking and sinking fast. Over the last 18 months I discovered a few things that have helped refuel my passion and reignight my love of my profession and calling.
Teachers if you are feeling frazzled, these seven “steps” will help you do some inner soul searching and get back on track to being your BEST you.Teachers if you are feeling frazzled, these seven “steps” will help you do some inner soul searching and get back on track to being your BEST you. Click To Tweet
#1 Admit There is a Problem
Now this should come without saying but so many of my teacher friends, me included, tend to find outside reasons that they are burned out. It’s the admins fault. It’s the kids. It’s the parents.
While they may be contributing factors the truth is, somewhere along the way on your teaching path you lost who YOU WERE and now you are unhappy.
The first step is to admit that you have lost yourself in your calling and you need to find yourself and passion again.
#2 Shut out things you can not control.
You can’t control parents and you most definitely can not control your administration. You CAN control what happens within the four walls of your classroom. Yes, there are the everyday challenges that your littles bring into your classroom but, you…and you alone…control how much of an effect that has on how your classroom runs.
Johnny didn’t have a good morning because he didn’t get breakfast or he didn’t get home until after 1 am and didn’t get any sleep? Well that might mean that you need to give him a snack and cut him some slack if he falls asleep. Let him take a power nap under your desk and then get to work.
#3 Stop Taking On Problems of Your Students as Your Own.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have empathy and that you shouldn’t do what you can…wait ALL that you can…to make your classroom a safe and inviting place for Johnny to be each day but, unfortunately short of you adopting Johnny and taking him home with you, there is no way you are going to fix all his problems.
So stop bringing them home with you and dwelling on them to the point of losing yourself in this quest to save him. Now, obviously if he is in a dangerous situation it is your duty and obligation to do your part to help. Common sense in this one applies.
#4 Leave work at school.
This one was a biggie for me. I was so caught up in being the perfect teacher I wasn’t being the perfect teacher for my students. Anyone else have teacher paperwork that has nothing to do with what you were hired to do…TEACH?
I figured out that I was so busy making my admin happy with paperwork and all the “stuff” that I forgot to make sure I was doing the best job I could do at what I was hired for…TEACHING! I decided that when a directive came down that “needed” to be done according to admin, I would do my best to complete it during the time they gave me to work on it. If they didn’t give me that time then I expressed that and very kindly told them that when I had time to complete it I would.
This included the umpteen million committees and projects that always seemed to land on my desk because I had forgotten how to say NO!! Guess what, none of my teacher evaluations (that so perfectly reflect the value of me as a teacher to my students) suffered. In fact those scores went up because I was now focusing on what I was hired to do and my students got their fabulous teacher back.
#5 Remember your WHY.
My WHY was to change the way my students viewed their education. It is a privilege not a RIGHT! I understand that in the USA going to school is our right. But that free education is a privilege and is the key to a successful future.
I wanted to instill that into my students from a very young age. I wanted to ignite their curiosity and show them how despite their circumstances they could be amazing individuals in the future IF they would build a curious spirit that never let them be told they couldn’t do something if they tried and never gave up.
That stupid test score had nothing to do with whether they would be a success. Which brings me to number six.
#6 You are not a test score.
Teachers all over are labeled by those damn (sorry for that but it is a hot button issue for me) test scores. I have seen really amazing teachers reduced to a ball of tears in the PLC room because her test scores where displayed for all her colleagues to see and then in a pretty wrapped veil of “we are just using this as an example, not to call anyone out”.
It was basically insisted that a teacher wasn’t doing her job. Never mind the 13/26 SPED students she has or the mental health students she has in her classroom that have episodes daily that reduce her teaching time from 105 minutes to 45 minutes each day.
Have you stepped back to look at the fact that despite these obstacles the 18 of 26 who were two grade levels behind are now reading on grade level in only one semester? Shocking I know.
But they still didn’t pass that stupid test. And this poor teacher now thinks she is a failure because of it. Teachers I am here to tell you that those test score are not an indicator of how great a teacher you are.
#7 Take Time for You!
Probably the most important item on my list and saved for last is YOU! What do you like to do? Run, read, sew, cook? Whatever it is…DO IT! You can not be the best teacher for them if you are even the best version of YOU!
For me it was binge watching Netflix with my husband. Seriously. Mind off, binge watching! Believe it or not some of my best teaching idea came from binge watching Netflix with him. So find what you like to do. Get a hobby teacher!
I realize that some of this may be a little harsh for some. But I wish someone had given me this advice when I was that young naive first year teacher who thought I could rule the world and that the “old timers” just needed to get out of my way. Hahaha!! Man if I had only known!! I might have avoided teacher burn out!
If you learn to do these things then you will be the best teacher your students could ask for. You will have the energy and desire to make amazing lessons that keep your students engaged and light a love of learning and curiosity that is unmatched. What are you waiting for teacher….remember….self care is NOT selfish and it is possible to avoid teacher burn out!!
How do you combat teacher burn out? Share your tips for avoiding teacher burn out below! You might help out a fellow educator.