AfterClass

Teaching is hard at any level, no matter how long you’ve been doing it. Take these steps to help maintain the love you have for the classroom.

Dec 30, 2019

Being a great teacher comes with a heavy price. High expectations, long hours, and low public morale can stretch anyone to their breaking point. Educator burnout — with scary markers like disillusionment, anxiety, increased personal conflicts, and insomnia, to name a few — is a real threat, and striking a balance between rocking at teaching without rolling over your sanity is no easy task. We’re here to help. Tackle teacher burnout with these powerful tactics.

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1. Take care of you, too.

No matter how hard you try, you can’t be the best teacher for your students if you’re not taking care of yourself. Get enough rest. Eat healthy snacks (and stop skipping lunch to stand in line at the copy machine). Eat dinner with your family or friends. Go see a movie. Hit the gym. Watch bad reality TV — whatever. Do something that helps you be a happy, healthy, whole person.

2. Enjoy the amazing moments.

Sometimes, we’re so caught up in going-going-going that we forget to stop and smell the roses — or, in our case, watch our students bloom. Teaching is one of those professions where everyone around you is growing; it’s part of the magic that makes us love our jobs. Don’t stop noticing it. Take note of the everyday “small” successes of your students, your colleagues, and yourself.

3. Share your workload.

Many teachers are on learning teams where they can (and should!) share planning. Grab coffee with your team, and choose activities that allow you to divvy up the planning and prepping. Pooling ideas and resources with coworkers will help you grow individually and as a team.

4. Don’t bring it all home.

You need your recovery time, too, and there’s nothing quite as terrifying as a huge rolling cart stacked with projects, essays, and quizzes to grade. Only bring home a manageable amount. (Also, remember that not everything needs to be graded. You know who you are. Admit you have a problem and cut back by giving some work stamps or stickers for completion.) Another trick? Do what you least enjoy at school during your prep time. If it’s grading, use your prep to grade and save what you enjoy more (maybe creating a Smart Board presentation or cutting up notecards) for your “homework.”

5. Utilize your minions.

Yep, a little responsibility isn’t going to hurt them. In fact, they’ll probably enjoy it. Kids can use sanitizing wipes on desks and chairs, restock art boxes, and organize the classroom library. It might not be perfect, but it’ll get done way faster and save you the headache.

6. Stop being your own enemy.

Everyone has room to grow, but, in this field, it’s all too easy to be way too hard on yourself. Stop beating yourself up! Learn from mistakes and let them go. You worked hard to get where you are — don’t forget the years you’ve spent in college, interning, studying, observing, and practicing. You’re a professional, and you can move mountains.

7. Make meaningful connections.

— with your students, their families, and your coworkers. Don’t pull away from the relationships that make your work as a teacher so powerful. Purposefully give attention, care, and compassion to those surrounding you. Build relationships that are so much more than staff development modules and meeting the standards. Let them get to know you. These connections will fuel your spirit and serve as constant reminders that your work is touching lives.


When times get tough, take a breather and regroup. We need you out there, soldier! Steer clear of teacher burnout by setting genuine priorities, practicing self care, and focusing on the good stuff. There’s an awful lot of it.

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