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5 Strategies to Fight Teacher Burnout
Episode 2826th December 2023 • The Social Studies Teacher Podcast • Kirsten Hammond, The Southern Teach
00:00:00 00:13:40

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Burnout is real. But there are strategies to help alleviate or lessen those feelings. There may not be a one-size-fits-all solution, and we may not be sure when the feelings will go away. But it's still worth the fight.

Episode Highlights

  • What teacher burnout is and how to recognize the signs of burnout
  • How focusing on your true hobbies and passions are important
  • Why prioritizing yourself is a must if you are teaching this year (and every year)
  • How to let things go (despite running out of time)
  • Finding positive support from other colleagues and teachers
  • What to do if the burnout is affecting you more than you can handle
  • My experience with burnout during the pandemic

Resources and Links

Grab the Time Management Strategies for the Elementary Classsroom resource 

Blog Post - Episode 28

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Kirsten 1:06

This is the social studies teacher podcast, a show for busy elementary teachers looking for fun and engaging ways to easily add social studies into their classroom schedule without feeling overwhelmed or pressed for time. I'm curious to know if you southern teach an educator and mom who is passionate about all things social studies, I love sharing ideas and strategies that are low prep and easy to implement. So let's dive in together.

The risk of burnout has increased in recent years, there's a teacher shortage demands high expectation workload. And the pandemic has pushed us teachers to our tipping points. Today's topic is all about five strategies to fight teacher burnout, we're going to be talking about what it is and how to recognize some of the signs of burnout. And then also some strategies to overcome or fight teacher burnout. I know in this day and age, especially during the pandemic burnout is probably more frequent than usual. You see more people leaving the classroom, more people resigning from their teaching positions. So it is affecting a lot of us out there. I wanted to kind of share this information with you. If you feel like you are feeling like you're on the last end of your rope in the teaching space and you want to find a way to kind of alleviate those symptoms. I want to give you some strategies to help you out.

Let's go ahead and talk about what burnout is. And this source I have for you is from Psychology Today. But burnout is a state of chronic stress that leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, detachment and feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment. Usually teachers who are high achievers who like to really work hard and are always looking for ways to improve are more prone to burnout. The reason being is because you know, these high achieving Teachers can also fall prey to perfectionism where everything has to be just so and then we're not leaving enough time for rest and recuperation. So that is just a really brief definition of what it means to have teacher burnout.

I'm going to give you some typical signs of burnout as well. One sign would be that you have insomnia or you're tired all the time, some fatigue, you're not sleeping well each night, maybe your mind is constantly on the motor. Another sign would be that you have trouble concentrating, not just at school, but maybe in your home life. At home, you're always thinking about school or thinking about your students, you're thinking about any deadlines that you have to make appetite and weight issues. So you may be having trouble curbing your appetite. Or maybe you're just not hungry at all, you're not eating as much as you should. And then the last sign would be depression and anxiety. So you're just constantly feeling like you're never enough, you're always worried just feeling those symptoms of depression and anxiety is another sign that you could have teacher burnout. Now, it's something important to remember that you are definitely not alone. If you're feeling these signs. There are many other teachers out there, that's feeling the pressure, as you may already have. So it's important to know that if you're feeling this, don't think that it's normal. Don't think that it's normal, that to be a good teacher, you have to be constantly thinking about school and doing things outside of school. So if you are getting to that tipping point, it is affecting your appetite, your relationship issues your sleep, then it is something to consider that you may be on the brink of burning out.

Now, let's go into those five strategies to fight teacher burnout so that it goes back down to a level that is much more manageable for you as a teacher for your career.

The first strategy would be to take back your weekends. So do not think about school, focusing on other hobbies and activities outside of school that you love to do. So this kind of goes into not taking things home related to school, not looking at emails related to school, really trying your best to focus on other matters, that don't have anything to do with your classroom, or your co workers, even parents, anything like that. You want to make sure you're focusing on things that you love to do. And maybe you're thinking well, I don't even know anymore, what activities or hobbies I'd like this can be a really good time to, you know, try to see what you enjoy. Maybe going out taking a long hike, taking a long walk, looking online to see if there's anything in your local area, any events that might be going on, that you might be interested in. So definitely just enjoying truly enjoying your weekends.

The second strategy to fight teacher burnout would be to prioritize yourself, organize what you're teaching with the must dues at the top of the agenda. And always, always, always make sure you put your needs first. So if you're feeling like you didn't get enough sleep, or you haven't been getting enough sleep the whole week, maybe that might mean you need to take a day off to recoup or to go to sleep early, you come first, you're the one in the trenches, you want to make sure you prioritize yourself before others. So just making sure your needs are met.

The third strategy would be that not everything needs to get done, there might be things that you really want to get done, but it's not a necessity. So if you ever run out of time you ran out of time, don't be afraid to enforce a hard cut off, maybe it has to do with a lesson that you really wanted to go through. Or maybe you want to review something extra with your students, you can always save that lesson or activity or review for another day. And I actually have more helpful tips on this in a time management resource. It's called 20 strategies for the elementary classroom. And you can find it in my TPT store. But I'll make sure to add that in the show notes. But that's just one really quick and easy tip related to the classroom, just managing your time a little bit better, could really help to fight teacher burnout in general.

The fourth way to fight teacher burnout would be positive support. Burnout is contagious. And being around negative people can kind of spark a burnout fire. So I've been there I've had to avoid certain places because it was a constant negative stream of comments and all of that stuff. And it was making me feel negative. So I had to kind of avoid that. But just finding a positive network of peers and colleagues that you can lean on, try to be as positive as possible. It's okay to rent but you don't want to make that the only topic of conversation because that can just continue to get you both down. And the last one would be to change it up. So this could be the strategy if you're trying all of these different strategies, maybe it's time to change it up. Think about changing grade levels, or maybe even the subjects you teach for the following year. So if you're teaching math and science and you are just kind of really fill in the stress, you're feeling really burnt out you're feeling is completely over it, maybe changing a different grade level or a different area. So maybe focusing on ELA and social studies, that might be what you need. That might be the change that you need. Another way to change it up is changing schools completely. Maybe it might require you to change schools, change districts, or even leaving the classroom completely.

If you're feeling that burnout, you need to make sure you do what's best for you. My experience with teacher burnout happened last school year, I lost weight, struggled with anxiety, sleep issues and stress. I was very negative about the year and it took a toll on me. And there was even a point in time where I told my husband that I didn't want to teach anymore, I was like, I'm done. I cannot even I don't think I'm going to make it through this year. I'm going to not work after this year, this is my last year. And I'll just work on my TPT store full time. But we ended up having to move cities, we found out my husband got a job offer in another city in the middle of the year, I ended up getting pregnant and moving cities was actually just the reset I needed. And it was just really a really great way it just kind of happened to line up and coincide. And you know, not everything is of course rosy or perfect. I'm still dealing with everything that's happening as I teach during the pandemic. But I definitely don't feel that I'm super burnt out like I was last year. And I don't want to get back to that point. And if I do, I'm definitely going to make those necessary changes that will best work for myself works for my family. Hopefully, the burnout doesn't happen again. But if it does, I know what I need to do that's going to work best for me.

not going to be the same for:

Maybe you need to take back your weekends, not think about school, prioritize yourself, know that not everything needs to get done. Find that positive support with your colleagues and maybe with other friends or family members or changing it up. Maybe it's time to make a little change.

All right. Well, thank you so much for joining in. In this episode, I was just being real, I hope you were able to take away some strategies that can help you and you can apply it to your own teaching career. Thanks for listening to the social studies teacher podcast. If you enjoyed listening to this episode, hit that subscribe button and leave a review. I would love to hear your thoughts. You can also find me on Instagram at the southern teach. I can't wait for you to join me in links episode for more teacher tips and strategies.