1. Realize you're not a failure and you're not alone
With all of the pressures on today's teacher, it's no wonder so many face bouts of burnout. It's important to realize that you are not alone in facing this battle. It can happen at any time. Teachers pour their hearts and souls into their work. It is much more than simply a job. When you feel like you've lost your passion, and can hardly get out of bed in the morning, you know you've been bitten. Take this Burnout Self-Test.
Ever have feelings that you're just not good enough? Your classroom doesn't look like Pinterest, your students are having a bad day, your lesson plan wasn't engaging enough? We all have days like this. It's important to stop comparing yourself to others. Take time to reflect on your accomplishments.
Face it. Even though you want to, you can't do it all. To avoid burnout you must prioritize. This means realizing that you might not have a Pinterest worthy classroom, that not every assignment has to be graded, etc. Determine which tasks are urgent, must do tasks. Break tasks into manageable chunks. Tackle tasks on a daily basis. Learn to walk away from work and leave it behind without guilt. You NEED time for yourself and your family. Ignoring this time leads to stress and burnout. Believe me, any tasks you leave behind will be waiting when you come back.
3. Use time wisely
By listing and scheduling tasks you can establish an efficient routine for regular tasks. Schedule a set time for lesson planning, copying, etc. I like to plan on Thursday for the next week. Then I have time to run copies for the next week.
Avoid frequent impromptu meetings with colleagues that are simply aimless chitchat or gripe sessions.
Learn to say NO.
4. Be willing to accept help
Delegating and sharing tasks with colleagues can lighten your burden. Our grade level established mini-teams to tackle locating and organizing curriculum resources and assessments for each subject.
It is important to have a trustworthy colleague in which you can bounce around ideas and vent appropriately. Your colleagues can offer advice and help you deal with issues you are facing.
Students can help with tasks (sharpening pencils, passing out papers, etc.). Teach them to be responsible for cleaning the room before leaving for the day, putting their names on their papers, etc. For a blog post idea and a freebie, see Procedures for Turning in Assignments.
This includes getting rid of purple copies from 1980! If it doesn't meet today's standards and/or you haven't used a resource for the past few years, donate or toss it. Don't be an organized hoarder! Try to keep digital copies, but if you still like paper copies, save just one copy and file it. Touch papers once! That means have a system for filing copies/resources as they come in. I place all copies immediately in a folder system organized by subject and day. They are available at a moments notice and are helpful if you have an emergency substitute. I also immediately file one copy of each resource/assessment by standard in a file. Keeping your work area clean increases your efficiency and helps you feel good about coming into work the next morning.
Remember, take time for yourself. Consider setting up a reward system. Having something to look forward to and savoring the time without feeling guilty about school work you left behind, will help keep you fresh and passionate when you reenter the school doors. This could mean a shopping spree, time to read a good book, or simply a walk with a friend. You're not alone. We are all in this together!