Top 3 Tips for Avoiding Teacher Burnout You Need To Know
As teachers, we often put ourselves last. We tend to put our families and our students first. In the new year, I suggest finding ways to put yourself as a top priority. I have watched many teachers leave the profession due to teacher burnout and I have decided that is NOT going to be me. Teaching is difficult, especially in the year 2020. As teachers, we must give ourselves some grace so that we always enjoy our profession. Here are my top 3 tips for avoiding teacher burnout that you need to know.
Work Should Stay at Work
This little piece of advice has taken me seven years to learn. Yes, you read that correctly-it has taken me my entire teaching career so far to learn. When I first
began teaching, on a typical day, I would get to school bright and early and stay at work well after the bell until almost dinner time. On top of this, I would still bring my work home and work in the evenings and on the weekends.
Do you see the dangerous pattern here?! Not only was this killing me but it was also hurting my family. All of my days revolved around my work. When I realized that I could not continue with this pattern for my mental health, I sat down and made some carefully thought out changes to my day and did some serious time-blocking..
Here are some things that helped me to leave my work at work to help avoid teacher burnout:
Make a schedule for your planning blocks:
At my current school, we meet as a grade level during our entire plan time on Thursdays and half of our plan time on Fridays. This gives me Monday-Wednesday to focus on what I need to get done for my planning purposes:
Mondays: I complete any grading that needs to be done.
Tuesdays: I plan the standard math lesson for the following week.
Wednesdays: I plan the accelerated math lesson for the following week.
Fridays: (Second half of planning) I print all of my master copies of everything for the following week.
Make a schedule for your mornings/afternoons:
I have to be at school 40 minutes before my students arrive each day. Some schools require teachers to stay a certain amount of time past the bell (my previous school was like this). Use this time wisely and make it calculated:
Every day I come in, put my stuff down and go check my mailbox (I only do this in the mornings, unless I get an email stating I need to at another time). Then, I check my emails. I tell parents the most likely time for my response is in the morning. (I also usually check them during dismissal for anything urgent)
Print/copy anything needed for the week. (My plans are already ready from the previous week)
This is my morning for tutoring students for any math help. I only do this one day per week.
I catch up with my teammates. I cannot stress how important this is! If I do not schedule time for this, I will do it when I should be doing other things.
Any housekeeping/filing of paperwork.
Create groups/plan for pulling kids, etc.
2. Self-Grading Assignments & Assessments
Teaching means LOTS of grading, especially in the upper elementary grades, middle and high school. Creating self-grading assignments is something that I have started doing to take some of the stress and time that grading causes away. I like to assign digital assignments and assessments whenever possible using Google Forms such as this Digital Expressions Assignments & Assessments and Rates and Ratios Mastery Check Assessments. Assignments are used as practice and I check as they work. Assessments are self-graded through Google Forms. This means that I do not have to sit and grade each one by hand! It is great!
In addition to self-grading assessments, I also use self-grading assignments like these Decimals Exit Slips. This is available in both print and digital form but the digital forms are through Google Forms and they are automatically graded and put into a spreadsheet so you can quickly see which students understood the lesson and which did not! Another example of a self-checking assignment is this Equivalent Fractions Self Checking Game. There is one slide for review of how to find equivalent fractions. Then, there are 25 questions for students to answer. Each question is self-checking and students can jump to different numbers if they would like to. Using some of these digital formats to help with grading has been an absolute game changer for me!
3. Self Care
Finally, this one might seem obvious but some of us need a friendly reminder! Self-care is so important for your stress, well-being and overall mental health. In addition to making the changes above to lighten your workload while at home and “turn your school brain off,” you must seriously consider self-care as well. In the evenings and weekends, I encourage you to do the activities that fill your cup. Go for runs, take a yoga class, get together for a wine night with girlfriends, massages, pedicures, journaling-whatever it may be that makes you feel like you again, do it as much as possible!
Following these 3 tips will hopefully decrease some of the added stress of being a teacher and help you avoid teacher burnout!