In a culture where teachers are praised for working themselves to ruins, it’s no surprise that so many are completely burned out. Worse yet, even in our state of exhaustion, we beat ourselves up for not doing “more”. The Government and educational institutions need to know there’s no teaching without teachers. Teachers can’t give their best when they are running on an empty tank. Save yourself from teacher burnout by implementing these 3 game-changing tips:
1. Start saying “NO”
Although we are master authoritarians in the classroom, many teachers fall victim to “people pleasing” behaviour when it comes to saying no. “No” has been branded a bad word that indicates our “lack of commitment” or “laziness”. We end up agreeing to do extra things and stretch ourselves way too thin. Our never ending to-do list remains victorious because there’s not enough time in the world to conquer it! This is why teachers must learn to say no. It’s difficult and scary at first but like everything else we’ve learned – it gets easier!
“No” is not a dirty word, it’s a liberating one. One that puts your wellbeing and sanity first. The art of saying no is a skill that will serve you in all areas of your life. So next time your HOD or member of SLT asks you for an incy wincy favour – just say no.
2. Put a cap on “school speak”
It’s not feasible to completely stop talking about work when you’re off duty. We are passionate and pour so much into what we do so of course we want to discuss it. The problem comes when it’s all we talk about. Our friends and family start avoiding us because conversation just gets stale and it’s not doing us any favours either. Putting a cap on “school speak” allows us to explore other passions that are completely unrelated to work. There’s more to your life than being a teacher.
3. Be very particular about the work you take home
Teachers are always teased for having a “sweet deal” because of all the holidays and 3pm finishes we get. What many people don’t understand is teachers desperately need the holidays to stay half sane and none of us go home at 3! We’ve got to do lesson planning and marking and reports and CPD and meetings and round robins. Teacher life does not slow down. Let’s face it, we have to take some work home to get it all done but we have to be picky.
Our time outside of school should be ours to enjoy. For this reason, you have to ask yourself whether spending your evenings knee-deep in exam marking is worth it. Always ask yourself do I need to do all of this right now? Is this worth giving up self-care and family time? Most of the time the answer will be no so use your evenings to recoup and avoid teacher burnout!
Upholding healthy teacher boundaries takes time and lots of practice. Start small but be consistent and you’ll avoid teacher burnout forever…
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