Teachers make many sacrifices in order to give more to their students. More instruction, more intervention, and above all else more time. But….teacher burnout is a real thing. My first few years of teaching my whole life was centered around my career. My husband, friends, and personal interests took a backseat. I worked on school stuff when I got home on the weeknights and spent all weekend prepping for the week. Here are 3 things I have learned to do over the years so I can maintain my identity as a human being apart from being a teacher.
1.) Be realistic – Your students do not need the bells and whistles for E.V.E.R.Y lesson. I wanted a theme every week….an over the top lesson for every standard I taught (in every subject). It became too much and quite frankly I was spending a lot of my teaching salary on extra materials. I have learned thru time to pick and choose lessons I wanted to go “ultra Pinterest” with. I ended up agreeing to do the over the top activities for skills that proved to be complex for students. Don’t get me wrong. I strive for highly engaging lessons every day to reach all my learners. I’m talking about the “dress up as Cat in the Hat and have students fish out sight words from a fish bowl with magnetic fishing poles” kind of lessons. Yes, I really did this back in the day.
2.) Organization – Organization is everything. It will save you so much time in the long run. If you’re new to the profession or switching grade levels, organizing the new year is hard, but do it! With time you build mini arsenals of file folders or binders that will always leave you with ample resources at your fingertips. I still love to search online for new ideas, but some weekends I just want to binge watch on Netflix. Then my file folders save the day.
3.) STOP CHECKING SCHOOL EMAIL – This was the hardest thing for me to stop doing. I checked my email HOURLY years ago. I wanted to stay on top of every little thing that came thru my inbox. Over time I discovered it gave me anxiety and sometimes ruined my weekend. I would get a dreadful parent email and I would stew on it all weekend. The last few years I have been upfront with parents and inform them I don’t check my email over the weekend.
You’re a teacher and that’s an incredible thing, but you’re a person too. You have needs. Make sure to give yourself time on the weekends to recharge, so you can be the best teacher for your students.