As we know, teacher burnout is prevalent among educators. I could list a dozen statistics to support that statement, but I tend to be a problem solver. For me, the questions really become: How do we solve this problem? Prevent it? Recover from it? Here’s the answer: We must build resilience in our teacher selves.
One important first step in building resilience is increasing your self-awareness. Psychologist Daniel Goleman, defines self-awareness in his best-selling book Emotional Intelligence, as “knowing one’s internal states, preferences, resources and intuitions.” Psychologists, Wicklund and Duval, who first developed the theory of self-awareness in 1972, proposed that through self-awareness, “…we become self-conscious as objective evaluators of ourselves.” Well, that sounds like quite a bit of psychological mumbo jumbo! I think we should simply say, “Self-awareness is knowing who you are and how you tick.”
To get to that revelation, we need to ask ourselves some important questions. Again, sounds serious, but never fear! I plan to make this as fun as possible. Take out some colorful writing utensils (pens, markers, colored pencils) and answer these questions. Keep them as a reference.
- I am a ROCKSTAR at_______________________. It’s okay to brag here. In fact, I encourage it.
- What brings me peace, dude?
- What sends me over the edge? These are your triggers! Know them. Avoid them if you can. If not, see number 2.
- If I saw an elephant in my backyard, what would I do? Believe it or not, I was once asked this question in a job interview!
- What are the most important things in my life? AND How do I react when those things are in danger or threatened? Ok, so this one’s serious…They wouldn’t let me publish the blog without a few golden nuggets.
- What makes me smile, laugh, giggle, chuckle or snort?
- Who is my personal hero and why?
- What would I do if I didn’t need to earn money? This is a good one, right?!
- What is my spirit animal? Feel free to just pick one OR you can use this quiz.
- What brings me down? What lifts me up? What drives me? Ha! I snuck a couple others in here.
Now you are probably asking how identifying your personal hero or spirit animal will help you decrease the likelihood of burnout. Let me explain. To avoid, prevent or recover from burnout, you must increase your level of resilience. Building resilience requires self-awareness and emotional intelligence. You must know what causes you angst and what helps you recover from tough days so you can notice struggles and work to improve your mood and mindset. While I have made light of getting to know yourself, it is a necessary and serious endeavor for your mental health as a teacher.