written by: Margie•edited by: SForsyth•updated: 9/10/2012
No matter how much you love teaching, avoiding teacher burnout should be a goal you take seriously. Burnout is a common problem, not just in the field of education, but in many careers.
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If you are serious about avoiding teacher burnout, there are steps you can take now to prevent it.
1. Learn What Is In Your Control and What Is Not
For me, this one is so very important. It’s easy for me to assume (without meaning to) that I am in charge of each of my students’ destinies. But this is just not the case. My students are the ones in charge of their destinies. All I can do is provide them tools for reaching their potentials; I can’t control if they take advantage of them.
Another area that is tough for me in this regard is in the realm of standardized testing. Standardized testing is becoming increasingly important. I sometimes feel as though I am solely responsible my students' success on standardized tests. But I am not solely responsible. I can’t control how well my students slept the night before or if they ate breakfast. I certainly have no control over their test-taking ability or their level of intelligence.
What is within my control is to teach to the very best of my ability. When I finally accepted this, I became much happier in my teaching career.
2. Prepare Your Classroom the Night Before
When I leave my classroom totally ready for the next day, I can go home and enjoy myself. I am one hundred percent present for my family. I don’t worry about having to get to work early the next morning to get everything prepared. I know that desks are neat, bellwork is on the board, and emails have been returned.
Enjoying your time away is absolutely vital to enjoying your time at school.
3. Get a Hobby
Everybody needs something they can enjoy that has nothing to do with work. Even if it’s something as simple as reading a good book every night for half an hour, do it!
4. Learn How to Say No
You don’t have to be on every committee. You don’t have to sponsor three clubs and two athletic teams. It’s okay to say no. Pick one or two extra things you can do each year and do them well.
What I have found is that when I overextend myself, I don’t do anything well. I do lots of things, but I do rather mediocre jobs at best. When I began limiting myself to two extra activities a year, I became much happier because I had more time to give each activity my full attention.
5. Go Home
It’s so easy to work late in your classroom every day. Don’t do it! Pick one day a week and leave at a decent hour.
Or, pick one day a week and leave at a really late hour. I have a colleague who stays late every Thursday. She gets her mom to keep her kids and feed them dinner and she works in her classroom getting tests written, lesson plans in, and papers graded. It works for her. The other days she’s home in time to play with her kids and cook dinner.
Avoiding teacher burnout may not always be easy, but it is certainly possible. Take an honest look at your strengths and weaknesses and figure out what steps you can take today so that you can enjoy your teaching career for many years to come.