Burnout is a topic for every year, but especially this year, with everything being new and uncertain. I’ve written about my reflections on remote teaching. I have been working with teachers all summer and listening to teachers, as well as brainstorming. If we are honest here, it’s time to be selfish about your time and energy so that you have the time and energy to give to your job and have some leftover for yourself. This is a shit show, and you are worth protecting. It’s definitely a time to be a beginner again.
Here are a few things to consider as we start a school year that begins with a lot more questions than answers.
- If you don’t have time to grade it, you may need to rethink the assignment. Can you shorten it and have the same impact?
- Consider what they need to know.
- If you are reading the required documents, what pieces of those documents actually show that?
- Do they need to read it, or can they see/listen to it?
- Some of these documents are so long that kids won’t read them. It’s the hard truth, but if they don’t have access to a printed version or an online version, it can be a barrier.
- Are you working harder than you need to be? You will not get any medals for working hard, trust me. Every day, I write down my top three priorities. Some days, it was just “connect with the students” or “try something new.”
- This is huge. I gave my students a survey at the end of a quarter, and the thing I noticed is that they saw that I was stressed, which had a negative impact on my classroom. From then on, I worked hard to keep my stress down and really take a look at what it was that was stressing me out. It wasn’t ever my students. It was everything else. So, I started to say no. If you are calm and assured, so are your students.
- I also stopped having students write full essays. We focused on pieces of the writing, and it had better results. Plus, the students saw the value, which is always crucial.
- Create strict boundaries around your time and energy. Even if you only start with not working at all on a Sunday and move from there. Or that you do not look at anything past 4pm. (Look, if you are grading well into the night you again need to rethink the assignment because your mental health matters and you need to sleep)
- Lastly, turn off social media for a bit. It’s easy to get caught up in what others are doing or even complaining online. This goes back to protecting your energy. Plus, people are mean online, and you don’t need that shit right now. Try it, trust me.
- I often used social media as an escape but ended up spending too much time on it and not working on what I needed to be, which lead to more stress. I deleted it off my phone during super stressful or full times.
- I even stopped watching so much news. It’s too much. I listen to NPR in the morning and call it good.
My hope for your school year is that you take care of yourself first and foremost. It’s the oxygen mask, and it couldn’t be more real than this year.