As you try to catch your breath after the craziness that is the end of the school year, be careful not to succumb to teacher burnout.
Last grades in? Check. Classroom clean? Check. Final meetings attended? Check. You’re free! Congratulations on surviving another year of teaching! This summer, when you’re tempted to forget the positive and focus on the negative, try one of these tips to avoid the teacher blues.
1. Celebrate the good
For all the hard, tedious moments of teaching, remember that there are at least as many positive moments worth celebrating. Whether you want to jot them down in a journal, share with a friend, or simply think by yourself, remember and cling to the good. Whether it was a break-through moment with one of your struggling students or a compliment you received from a parent or colleague, remember that what you spend your days doing matters. Even if you don’t see immediate results, you are making a lasting impact on your students. Whenever you feel teacher burnout creeping up, take hold of that truth: your job matters deeply.
2. Focus on self-care
To avoid teacher burnout, take some time to focus on self-care. It can be easy to push your own needs aside throughout the school year as you focus on lesson planing, grading, and your own family and friends. Take advantage of the time you have during the summer to take care of yourself. Self-care is vital, not selfish. Start by simply making time for your favorite hobbies, catching up with old friends, or even taking a vacation. Whatever your obligations during summer break, be sure to make time for yourself so you’ll feel re-energized and ready for the new year.
3. Get re-inspired
What inspires you? If you’re experiencing teacher burnout, it’s probably time for a dose of inspiration. Try listening to STEM podcasts or other lesson planning material that usually gets you excited to teach. For some, reading back through your own lesson plans or journals can help ignite the spark. Attending a conference and being around other enthusiastic teachers can stoke your own enthusiasm. Or, it could be time to learn something new. Take a class or visit somewhere that’s relevant to the material you teach so you’ll start the new school year with fresh information and renewed passion.
4. Remember why you teach
Sometimes all it takes to rescue you from teacher burnout is remembering why you do what you do. Consider reaching out to an old student to see where he or she is now or remember all the students you have had in the past that have changed for the better because of you. And if you can’t remember why you ever stepped foot in the classroom, ask your friends and family to remind you why your job is worth it.
5. Take a step back
It can be easy to get caught up in the day to day, but it is important to take a step back and reflect on where you have been and where you want to go. Take some time to craft your mission statement as a teacher: What do you hope to achieve by teaching? What do you want students to ultimately take away from your class? Think in terms of the big picture and long-term goals. Reflecting on the mission of your job can help melt away the stress and put tedious moments into perspective.
As you reflect on this past school year and look to the future, remember to learn from – and then let go of – the hard moments and hold on to the positive. Don’t let teacher burnout get the best of you. Your job has tremendous value and worth – it deserves to be celebrated!