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Teacher Self Care Tips

Use these teacher self care ideas to help make self care a priority.

Teacher self care is often overlooked. It is important for teachers to realize that self care is important. Check out these teacher self-care tips from our #2ndaryELA Twitter chat, where real teachers share their best ideas about teacher self care.

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Teacher Self Care Tips

Q1: Grading ELA assignments can be time-consuming and stressful. How do you ease your grading load?

  • A1 Use rubrics and NEVER mark up a final draft. Lots of peer editing leading up to final drafts and commenting via Google Docs
  • A1: I have been known to grade only for certain things – like “just” proper punctuation one week… It all depends on our focus that week.
  • A1: Digital tools cut my grading time by so much and no piles of paper = less stress for me. I use Doctopus/Goobric, Autocrat, DocAppender and others.
  • A1: Definitely rubrics and checklists
  • A1: I use rubrics and assign whatever I can online so I don’t have to lug papers everywhere and sort through all of them
  • A1: Focus on the importance/the essence of the assignment … don’t mark it all up. Give verbal feedback. Don’t give every assignment a grade.
  • A1: Digital grading tools, using clear and simple rubrics, also being selective with what I assess.
  • A1: Great tips from other teachers in this blog post –
  • A1: I ease my grading load (especially writing assignments) by utilizing technology like Google docs with the feedback commentary extension. I also try to pace myself by grading only one class a day when grading projects and/or essays.
  • A1: For formative assessments, I use a checkmark grading system –
  • A1: It starts with making sure the assignments are meaningful. Quality over quantity-especially in writing. Selecting quality assignments can help reduce your load.
  • A1: As a second-year teacher one of my biggest lessons learned is DON’T GRADE EVERYTHING… even if I collect it for the sake of accountability
  • A1: I use sites/tools that do some of the grading for me (Google Forms, Actively Learn, etc). Also, rubrics for writing assignments and projects.
  • A1: I ease my grading load by lots of feedback as we work through the writing process to make the final draft grading quicker. I have also tried staggered turn-ins so I don’t have 120 papers all at once.

Q2: What lessons or activities do you do with students when you need a break from grading or to relieve stress?

  • A2: Hands-on activities that don’t require any paperwork to grade like stations or digital breakouts
  • A2: One that is focused on using groups. We completed a group essay recently and that went really well!
  • A2: Learning games, collaborative projects. These still allow for standards but don’t require as much time grading.
  • A2: Reading their work to the class or reading together always gave me a break. “Silent seat work” is not the answer. You can still be meaningful, interactive and low-key!
  • A2: Speaking & listening assignments like a presentation on an @nytimes article or a collaborative project with the Life Skills class.
  • A2: I’ve been learning that not everything needs a grade and not everything even needs feedback from me – so I pace big assignments that need my feedback.
  • A2: In-class work like presentations or stations are great when both the students and teacher need a break from formal assessment.
  • A2: Analyzing episodes of The Twilight Zone for irony, foreshadowing, etc, Story Cubes, Emoji generator writing prompts, Newsela, a Commonlit story, Quizlet, vocab review games, Kahoot
  • A2: I like using Jigsaw Activities and Learning Carousels in my classroom. These activities promote collaboration among peers and demonstrate to students the importance of learning from/with each other!
  • A2: I’ve recently found a vocabulary game on TPT that my students enjoy. I also use other games (Kahoot!, Quizlet) and Escape Rooms as review.

Q3: What other strategies do you use in school to help manage stress and avoid burning out?

  • A3: Spending my (very short) lunch period with my colleagues to decompress and making sure some of our talk is non-school related
  • A3: Don’t make all assignments due on the same day/week. Space out your grading.
  • A3: I’m afraid I’m not very good at this! I’m trying to listen to more music and/or inspirational podcasts every morning.
  • A3: Free choice outside reading books is low-key and enjoyable for them and for me!  
  • A3: I leave work at work. (mostly – unless grades are due.)
  • A3: I find listening to music with earbuds really helps me focus during my planning time, and I get more grading done because I block out distractions
  • A3: I try to find ways to laugh in my class every day. The best thing I’ve learned in a decade is not to take myself so seriously!
  • A3. I try to be in the moment wherever I am. My teachers and students deserve it. Being present mentally and emotionally helps me balance the day.
  • A3: Of course, we also connect with others via social media for support!
  • A3. I try to be in the moment wherever I am. My teachers and students deserve it. Being present mentally and emotionally helps me balance the day.
  • A3: I love reading to the students and having wonderful discussions about the characters and plot! We keep it low-key, fun, and very conversational. That is my happy place that keeps me going during the stressful times.
  • A3: Also, this summer I read a book called The Zen Teacher. It has wonderful tips to create a balanced classroom.
  • A3: I like to create to-do lists for each day with a list of things that are a priority for that day and things that are coming up to stay organized! Checking items off my to-do list helps me manage stress and avoid feeling overwhelmed!
  • A3: I usually take a quiet lunch break to get a little “me” time in during the day — since so much of my time is spent interacting with other people! It feels good to “turn it off” for at least 20 minutes.
  • A3: I learned to use teacher leaders. Many of my teachers have more skills at things than I do. I learned to ask for help so I can have a family and personal life as well as a professional one!

Q4: What strategies do you use outside of school to help manage stress and avoid burning out?

  • A4: Making time to exercise. Putting limits on the time I spend on schoolwork outside of school. Not checking my work email at home.
  • A4: I try to take home as little work as possible and spend time with my kids where I really focus on them and not at all on school.
  • A4: I do kickboxing! I also READ! Most importantly, I focus on my family at home to alleviate stress.
  • A4: Do not check your work email at home. Set limits on what days of the week you will bring work home. It is better to stay a little later or arrive earlier than to bring it home.
  • A4: Weekends are for me and my family to go to Disney! Then if I want to do a little work, I’ve had a nice break. 🙂
  • A4: I think it is important to spend time outside. As soon as I get home, I like to take a walk with my dogs and just breathe in the fresh air. It helps clear my mind and appreciate the day.
  • A4: A few of my colleagues and I work out after school together. It is a great way to manage stress and enjoy time with coworkers outside of school!
  • A3 and A4: This is something that I struggle with. Three preps and a large caseload keep me very busy.
  • A4: I almost never check my work email from home – even on weeknights!
  • A4: Great tips from other teachers about avoiding teacher burnout –
  • A4: Set a cut-off time for grading. Spend time with your family. Get some exercise and rest. If you don’t take some time to care for yourself, it is hard to show care for others.
  • A4: I rarely bring grading home (unless it’s digital), so I leave most of my planning for home (because it’s fun to me, and I use I also watch a lot of TV and enjoy my family.
  • A4: Taking group exercise classes have been huge. I used to think I was too tired to work out at the end of a long day, but now I know it energizes me!

Q5: What advice would you give to new teachers to encourage them that teacher self care is important?

  • A5: Connect with positive coworkers who are willing to work together and dedicate time to doing things you enjoy outside of school
  • A5: You cannot be the best teacher you can be if you are running on an empty tank.
  • A5: If you don’t take the time to be kind to yourself, it will become harder to be kind to others. Rest and feeling good are important.
  • A5: I would say, “Establish your routines and procedures. Then stick to them.”
  • A5. Don’t be afraid to try new things-teach a new grade, content, unit etc. being stagnant can cause early burnout.
  • A5: I would encourage them to remember their priorities and find things to do that make them smile and laugh.
  • A5: Take a mental health day if you need it, sleep in on the weekends (if possible), You will drive yourself crazy if you work 24/7 so find some time to relax
  • A5: I would tell them to shake it up and get out of your comfort zone. Having that challenge in front of you, keeps you going!
  • A5: It’s okay to take time for yourself because one “imperfect” lesson (or making them wait another week to get their essays back) is not going to break your students!
  • A5: Relying upon and reaching out to mentor teachers and leaders is a great way to promote teacher self-care!
  • A5: 5 key aspects to everyday life 1. Work Time 2. Workout Time 3. Family Time 4. Spouse Time 5. Me Time Thanks for the advice @djacoby
  • A5: Teaching as a marathon, not a sprint! We have to learn ways to not only take care of ourselves but each other as well! Creating strong mentor programs/relationships for our new teachers is vital!
  • A5: Read more about how to avoid teacher burnout.

Download this free Teacher Self Care Challenge.

Are you a busy teacher looking for ways to fit teacher self care into your routine? This FREE resource provides choice boards to help you figure out a way to challenge yourself to use more self care within your busy life. You can download this Teacher Self Care Challenge on Shopify CAD.

If you are reading this blog post and are in urgent need of emergency mental health care, please call your local emergency number (911 in North America) or reach out to the resources listed on this Get Help Now page from Better Help.

Additional Teacher Resources

  1. Great Books For Teachers
  2. Fantastic Books For Teachers
  3. Teacher Gift Guide

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