Fall signifies the beginning of the school year in the minds of most, even though in Georgia schools have been in session for over 6 weeks. This year marks my sixth year of teaching. Throughout my entire teaching career I have attended graduate school. I have completed my Master’s and my Education Specialist degree and am currently working on my Ph.D (Obviously, I love school and learning! #obsessed). Additionally, I coach in the afternoons. While a week for me has me running from the classroom, to the cheer gym and then to my own night classes, I still find joy in my profession.
My tips for avoiding teacher burnout:
1. Take time for yourself.
When I was student teaching, I remember my mentor teacher telling me to take one day a week to not focus on school. I still abide by this advice. On Saturdays, I take the day to not work on lesson plans, grade student work or complete school paperwork.
2. Enjoy school, everyday!
I am excited everyday when school starts. I want my students to yearn to learn and be in my classroom. Be excited for your lessons and the activities you have planned. If you aren’t, your students certainly will not be. Additionally, I want my students to see my classroom as a safe and fun space.
3. Be organized.
Losing papers takes years off of your life. Keep your students work and important paperwork organized in a manner that works best for you. I used to use bins to collect work from my students and a desk organizer for important papers. This school year marks my second year as a floating teacher. I use folders in my teacher bag to keep myself organized.
4. Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate!
I am a strong believer in working with others to make your classroom a better space. I am very fortunate to share a classroom with one of my favorites from my undergrad and my Master’s program. We are constantly tossing ideas back and forth throughout the school day. Before my social studies teacher bestie joined me at my current school, we would meet up and plan outside school. Last week, my social studies bestie and I met up with another duo of fabulous teachers to swap lesson plan ideas. Also, use the internet to find fabulous resources for your classroom. Collaborating saves you time and perfects your craft as well.
5. Surround yourself with positive people.
I am so fortunate to work in a school with many fabulous people. I surround myself with teachers who are uplifting and have the common goal of student success and happiness. These teachers are a constant reminder to me of why I decided to go into education. Avoid the lunch bunch with nagging and complaining teachers, even if it means eating in an alternative room.
6. Keep student work folders.
I keep folders of my students’ assessments (formative and summative). This allows me to quickly view student progress. These folders serve as a reminder to me and my students of how far my students have come in a school year. Additionally, they are great for parent- teacher conferences.
7. Keep positive student notes!
My first year of teaching, one of the teachers at my school encouraged me to keep a folder of notes I received from students. She also recommended keeping the folder close, so I could view it when I was having a day where encouragement was need. I keep student notes in a drawer in my school desk and a drawer in my desk at home. These notes serve as a constant reminder to keep on, keepin’ on.
8. Be open to change.
Teaching is all about being flexible, whether in your lesson plans or your course assignments. Don’t freak when your lesson plans to play out that way you imagined. Be ready for change and don’t be glued to what is on paper. Flexibility also applies to the classes you teach as well. I have taught a variety of social studies subjects and grades over the past six school years. I find that accepting change makes for a better school year. Change also helps break up monotony and encourages you to brainstorm and create new and fresh ideas. Each of my six years, I have instructed some form of United States History with other courses sprinkled throughout. I believe the change has helped make me a better educator.
9. Love your students.
Students are children and children are not perfect. Teachers are not perfect either. I start each day with a clean slate for each student in my classroom. Take time to send home positive notes about student progress, no matter what their age. Parents will connect with you more when they see you have a common goal of student success. Grace on grace on grace is needed for a successful school year.
10. Take time to get to know your students.
I know classes are big and class time is short, but take time to know your students. When you learn about your students, you get insight on their actions and feelings. Their backgrounds impact their learning and will offer you a chance to teach in a culturally relevant way.
Enjoy your school year!