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Painted Brain | Practical Strategies To Prevent Teacher Stress And Burnout
We're bridging communities and changing the conversation about mental illness using arts and media.
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Practical Strategies to Prevent Teacher Stress and Burnout

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Students in a classroom

Teacher stress and burnout are real as more and more are demanded from teachers. Many of the expectations placed on teachers are unreasonable, and some are downright impossible to meet. Throw in low pay, poor public perception, and an overall lack of respect toward teachers and it is no wonder that many good teachers are choosing to leave the profession.

At some point, almost every teacher questions whether or not they want to continue to teach. It is a natural part of the teaching process. We invest so much of our time into becoming a good teacher that it is frustrating when we reach a point where we no longer want to continue.

Reaching this point can be prevented, but it takes a teaching lifestyle change that sometimes counters our natural teaching personality. The following strategies can help keep you energized, focused, and excited about being an effective teacher.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Teaching is such a multi-faceted profession. There are hundreds of factors that you are dealing with daily. Sheer personality differences ensure that no two days are the same. It is important to remember to weigh which battles you want to take on. While you do not want to ignore the small stuff, you do not want to dwell on them either.  You can easily get swallowed up by the enormity of the task at hand. Prioritize each situation that arises, make a quick decision, and move on.       

Escape the Fray

Teachers get lambasted for having summers off when we do not. Many of us take on second jobs, attend professional development, and start working towards the next year. However, we must take advantage of a little bit of that time to unwind and relax. Everyone has a different definition of vacation, and every teacher should take some of their time off to enjoy their version of a vacation. Vacation provides us with a natural escape from our duties as a teacher and allows us to come back refreshed and reinvigorated.

Teacher lecturing to his students

Find Your Zone

Maintaining balance is an essential aspect of avoiding stress and teacher burnout. Teachers must balance their professional life with their personal life. It can be a juggling act, but neglecting either/or will eventually create a stressful situation. Having a symbiotic balance between the two parts of your life can prolong your career and ensure that you are happy at both work and home. Furthermore, it is gratifying when you can be a successful spouse, parent, or friend and a successful teacher at the same time.

Leave it at the Door

Teachers should not take the stresses of their job home with them, nor should they bring the stresses of home to their job. Doing either of these will harm the other. I am not advocating that you should not grade papers, prepare for the next day’s lessons, or do other rudimentary activities at home. Specifically, you do not want frustrations with your students to manifest themselves in an argument with your spouse or children. You must become adept at putting anything negative behind you and picking it up the next day should it be necessary.

Mix It Up

Keeping things the same can lead to staleness and teacher burnout. All teachers should be committed to mixing things up, trying new things, and keeping up with educational trends. Teachers should lead the charge to be lifelong learners. When we teach the same material the same way year after year, we are asking for boredom and burnout. By changing things up and seeking out strategies to improve things, we stay fresh and focused.  It is easy to get into a comfortable rut, but it can be exciting when you push yourself to be better.

No Means No

Many teacher contracts have a line typically near the bottom of the contract that says something about carrying out other duties as directed by the building principal. This is a sneaky way to get teachers to do more than just teach. These duties include class, activity or club sponsorship, keeping activity gate, after-school tutoring, and a wide array of other extra duties that are time-consuming. In general, these duties are assigned to new teachers or those few teachers who have proven that they will go the extra mile to do things the right way. Taking on too many of these responsibilities can quickly lead to stress and burnout. You must learn to say no when your plate is already full. You have to let your principal know when enough is enough. If you keep saying yes, they will keep giving you additional duties to fulfill.

Pair-N-Share

Teaching is like a fraternity in that only other teachers truly understand what it is like to do this job.  As a teacher, it is helpful to have one or two really good friends who are also in the profession.  This gives you someone with which you can share ideas and suggestions and also vent your frustrations related to the profession. Having this type of collaborative relationship is essential to healthy teaching because it gives you an outlet and a release with someone who has faced similar battles.

Plan Your Escape

We all need an escape or a hobby to fall back on that relaxes us and gets our minds off of our professional duties. A hobby can serve as the perfect evening or weekend distraction from a stressful day or week. These simple recreational escapes can help provide us with the balance we need to forge on through the day-to-day grind of teaching.  Hobbies give us something to look forward to and can help us maintain our overall enthusiasm for life as a whole.

Apple, books, and pencil on desk

Remember Your Reason

Why did you become a teacher? We each have our unique reason. Far too often, many of us forget that reason. It is true that when asked we can quickly respond that we became teachers to make a difference, but we often say it without the conviction we once did. Somewhere along the way, we lost that conviction; that reason our students need us. We lost our passion and our excitement to provide our students with the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful adults. Rediscovering that passion is essential to getting out of any funk. If you cannot get out of it, then perhaps it is time to move on to another career.

Take it all in Stride

Look at the big picture. Do not focus on an isolated event or occurrence. As teachers, we often spend too much time dwelling on our failures and not enough time focusing on our successes. Sometimes you can do everything right and still fail to come out on top. The students that you work with have to want it as bad as you do and the truth is that many of them do not. You cannot beat yourself up when someone fails. Do as much as you can. Go the extra mile. Give your students every opportunity to succeed. Move on if they do not take advantage of those opportunities with the understanding that there will be others who will take those opportunities and who will be better off because you were their teacher.

About the author: Diane H. Wong is a content writer at essaywritercheap.org. She works out different marketing strategies. In this case, she has an opportunity to share her experience with others and keep up with advancing technologies.

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