Teacher burnout is an epidemic! A survey of 30,000 teachers by the American Federation of Teachers (2015)1 showed that 100% agreed or strongly agreed they were enthusiastic about the profession when they began their careers, yet only 53% agreed to this when they took the survey. In addition to this, 73% reported that they are “often” under stress. There is no wonder why more than 41% of teachers leave the profession in the first five years.
This exodus has effects on school communities including the students and the teacher!
So what can be done?
Mike Anderson, author of The Well Balanced Teacher2 gets it right when he says, “We must learn to take better care of ourselves, so we can take better care of others.” If we are not healthy as educators in our mind, body, and soul, we will be unable to do our job well and impact students positively. Here are some easy to implement ideas on how to prevent teacher burnout in your mind, body, and soul.
How do you take care of your mind?
- First, change your mindset. Amend toxic thinking. Stop awfulizing. Instead, do what we are currently teaching students to do. Flip your script. Instead of thinking, “My students just can’t learn,” think, “Every student can learn!”
- Laugh, as much and as often as you can. Laughing actually releases endorphins or “feel good” brain chemicals.
- Journal! Skovolt and Trotter-Mathison (2011) found that releasing negative emotions through writing can help practitioners guard against burnout. Here is a link to some fun writing prompts to get you started!
How do you take care of your body?
- SLEEP! Sleep influences our effectiveness more than any other behavior.
- I know you know this is coming…exercise! Exercise reduces anxiety and depression, increases executive functioning and can help the brain better resist stress.
- And last but not least, eat well. This includes breakfast! Foods high in protein can help keep you focused. Also, remember to stay hydrated.
How do you take care of your soul?
- Disconnect. Don’t connect your email to your personal phone. Set boundaries around when you will work at home. Monitor how much time you spend on social media. All of these can drain a teacher’s spirit.
- REFLECT. Try meditation or prayer. Talk with a confidant. Connect with nature. Check out this great step-by-step guide for beginning meditation.
- Journal! Skovolt and Trotter-Mathison (2011) found that releasing negative emotions through writing can help practitioners guard against burnout. (And more journal prompts for self-reflection!)
- Play your music! Everyone feels better when you’ve heard your jam! Create a playlist of songs that inspire you or calm you. Listen to it often, and TURN IT UP if you like! Dancing is allowed, too!
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation found that 85% of teachers said they became teachers because they wanted to make a difference in children’s lives.3 Remember, to make that difference, you must be whole and healthy first!
With the ever increasing demands on teachers, the subject of teacher wellness is a timely and important one. Explore a wealth of strategies you can enlist to attain professional and personal balance, avoid teacher burnout, and re-charge through Learners Edge Course 5792: Refocus & Recharge: Strategies for Finding Balance in Teaching. This course will explore such strategies as how to manage stress, ways to be a part of the larger community, teaching with a sense of purpose, the importance of self-efficacy, positive engagement, and planning of one’s time and energy.
- American Federation of Teachers (2015). “Quality of Worklife Survey”. Retrieved May 17, 2017, from http://www.aft.org/sites/default/files/worklifesurveyresults2015.pdf
- Anderson, M. (2010). The well-balanced teacher: how to work smarter and stay sane inside the classroom and out. Alexandria, VA, USA: ASCD.
- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (2014). “Primary Sources: America’s Teachers on Teaching in an Era of Change.” Retrieved May 17, 2017, fromhttp://www.scholastic.com/primarysources/PrimarySources3rdEdition.pdf
Learners Edge is passionately committed to providing you with continuing education coursework, materials, and tools that will help you succeed in your classroom and in your career.