Tips for Avoiding Teacher Burnout

Effective and realistic strategies to help teachers survive and cope with teacher burnout from the 2 Peas and a Dog blog.

Teacher burnout is a real fact of a career in teaching. Every year the demands increase, but no other tasks get removed to compensate for this additional workload. We had a really good #2ndaryELA Twitter chat on this topic and I curated the best tips in this blog post.

Topics Covered

  • Causes of Teacher Burnout
  • Strategies to Help Manage Stress and Avoid Teacher Burnout
  • Recovering from Teacher Burnout
  • New Teacher Advice
  • Resource Sharing

Q1: What causes teacher burnout? Do you ever discuss this with colleagues? Or as a whole staff? 

  • I felt burnout when I had too much to do, too little time, too much pressure. We discuss this in some PDs
  • Burnout comes from not enough time. Teachers need to feel supported and know when to let things go! It’s so hard!
  • No time to plan – all taken with PD – and evaluations that do not help build but only tear down.
  • Overload, paperwork. No, we don’t talk about it. I’m glad since it too frequently becomes a gripe session – not productive
  • Teacher burnout is caused by trying to do too much & not taking a break. I’ve discussed as a critical friends group at school
  • So many things. Working in an unstable system in an unstable school. Getting moved from school to school.
  • Excessive meetings that should be emails, or where maybe 5-10 faculty members need the info
  • Never discuss burnout as staff. Caused by lack of balance and too much pressure
  • I have discussed it with a small group of teachers but never as a staff
  • Last year was my 1st year teaching & at times it was overwhelming trying to create engaging lessons and stay on top of things
  • There are so many things that cause teacher burnout, but for me, it was dealing with ludicrous bureaucracy.
  • Burnout = overwhelmed, too much to do, little appreciation, not enough support, lack of sleep, poor nutrition/health, PRESSURE
  • Never having time to pee or eat lunch, and sometimes having to decide between those two which one I need most! Haha!

Q2: What strategies do you use to help manage stress and avoid teacher burnout?

  • I chunk tasks (copy, grade, plan) and use a timer to limit prep. 3:30, I go home and run
  • I force myself to have a silent commute so I can decompress. I tweet one positive thing from each day! It helps on bad days
  • I have a to-do list for my prep times so I know exactly what has to get done
  • Power work bees, getting on top of the things I can control helps, doing something that brings me joy, cleaning
  • I’ve gotten really good at making quick, quiet exits
  • I mark a little bit daily so it does not become a marathon
  • Limit the amount of time I spend on work, even if it doesn’t all get done. Need some time to focus on life
  • I would make sure to workout – practicing yoga and Pilates. Two forms of exercise that focus on breathing and mental health.
  • I make time to read something non-school related and these coloring books help me to relax
  • Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. No email after 4. No grading while kids were awake. Try to work to contract
  • Unplugging, answering email requests as they come in, making a plan
  • Grading less day to day, mostly just final essays/projects. Creating skill vs text based materials that can be reused.
  • Yoga does wonders for anxiety and stress.
  • Positive postcards. When I’m feeling especially “done”, I send students positive postcards. It makes me reflect on the good
  • Will not bring work home. I also journal my day
  • Yoga is probably my biggest help! Also, saying NO to extra responsibilities sometimes. You have to say no sometimes

Q3: How do you do to recover from teacher burnout? 

  • To recover, I take me time and to inspire, look through portfolio of student work. Remember the awesome moments
  • I recover with a weekend without work and by finding reasons to laugh every day. Wine also helps!
  • A good book! or, if I’m feeling guilty about not doing school work, I’ll get caught up on education journals or books.
  • A mental health/personal day at least once a quarter. Make sure to not feel bad about it! We all need an extra day sometimes!
  • We need to learn to say no to extra tasks and demands
  • I like to go shopping and walk around the mall to completely change the subject in my brain
  • I keep a stash of Sweet Tarts in my drawer. A handful of those help. I’m not sure I’ve reached the point Sweet Tarts can’t help
  • Yoga helps me recover after a long week from stress. I wish I had time to do it more honestly! Time with family/friends also
  • Last yr. students wrote letters to teachers about how they impacted their lives – I re-read them when I need a boost
  • Accept that everything is a work in progress…can’t be perfect…technology detox on some weekends and during summer
  • Read, Vacation – where I take nothing, stay home alone, mental health days, trip to parent’s house
  • Reading a good book or getting a pedicure are the perfect thing to help me when I get in a funk
  • Every day I look for small victories. Every day isn’t a day that you climb Everest, but I do go over hills. See the good
  • SLEEP, self-care, taking time to prioritize, marathon work bee 🙂

Q4: What advice would you give to new teachers to help them avoid new teacher burnout?

  • Surround yourself with positive people, not cranky/gossipy teachers. Set a time that you WILL go home. Save some of yourself for you
  • I would say it’s okay to say no to extra responsibilities when asked by colleagues/admin. Also find something that calms you!
  • Advice for all: Know your limits and protect them. You can’t be perfect at everything. Learn to let go. It’s okay to say no
  • Know it happens – it’s a part of the profession. Burnout gets worse when you listen to others complain. Be around positivity!
  • Create a workflow that you stick to. Be ok with saying that the papers will be there in AM and that you need sleep
  • I schedule my planning in my Google Calendar with certain tasks on certain days
  • You do not have to sit on every committee, it’s okay to take a mental health day, you don’t have to grade everything
  • Student conferences are more informative than paper tasks!
  • Don’t ever be afraid to ask others for help. If you see something that toy think you would benefit from – compliment & ask
  • Love yourself & your students. The rest will come when you take care of these 2 things.
  • 10 minutes before leaving time, write your to-do list for tomorrow
  • Find someone outside of school to vent to. They will help remind you that we aren’t the only ones who have crazy jobs
  • Focus on the students and what you need for them tomorrow. The rest can wait, but make class productive
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice. Even the most veteran of teachers struggle some days

Q5: Share some resources you have found for helping to manage stress and avoid teacher burnout

  • @loveteachblog is awesome. We taught in similar environments, I could relate to her struggles, and posts always made me laugh
  • Twitter chats are great. Find ones that focus on positive and don’t become complaint sessions
  • I like SJT’s Teach Happy Membership and the many teachers over there! Inspirational articles about how teachers change lives
  • Join a teacher chat group.  I get on Pinterest when I need a boost as well
  • Best resources are Twitter, positive colleagues, GAFE tools, family & friends. Choose to be kind to yourself!
  • Peppy songs, inspiration quotes, and a fun Pinterest board are all musts!
  • New teachers. Here are 24 ways to avoid burnout! 
  • Use the internet to help plan your lessons so many great ideas!
  • DON’T recreate the wheel
  • Check out these blog posts – Prevent Teacher Burnout and How To Make Use of Teacher Support Systems

Download this free Teacher Self Care Challenge.

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