As another school year comes to an end, we wish to acknowledge the hard work teachers have put in to serving their students this year. Teachers play a critical role in students’ lives from engaging in academic instruction to fostering social and emotional skills in their students.
Teaching can be a rewarding and satisfying profession; however, it can also be a challenging role as teachers may find dissonance as they work to promote self-caring behaviors in their students but find that they, themselves, have little time to engage in healthy practices. Demands, such as meeting the needs of students and parents, working long hours, and changing roles and expectations, can cause teachers to experience burnout and compassion fatigue. A 2022 Gallup poll listed teaching as the profession with the highest rates of burnout, and more than 1 in 10 teachers report feeling either always or very often burned out at work. Most educators chose their profession because they want to teach and impart knowledge to young people and support their students during these developmental years. Now that this year’s teacher appreciation week has come and gone, however, we challenge educators to learn how and support themselves as they work to create a healthier work-life balance.
So, what can teachers do to prevent, or heal from, burnout?
- Make yourself a priority. Remind yourself that you are important! You deserve downtime and can take time to increase your well-being. Many educators often prioritize the needs of dozens, if not hundreds, of students over their own needs. Find times to check in with yourself throughout the day and assess your personal priorities. Take breaks to eat, rest, and engage in positive self-talk.
- Establish boundaries. Define your boundaries regarding your workload, let others know what these limits are, and stick to them. Consider setting boundaries around answering phone calls and emails, determine how much work you’re willing to do from home or in off hours, and even reflect on how much time you spend thinking about work. A boundary is a rule that you set for yourself; while you can’t say, “I will not answer this parent’s emails because he’s annoying me,” you might be able to say “my boundary is that I will only answer questions once, during my designated office hours, and then I will refer parents who still have questions to my website’s FAQ page or to the principal for more information.”
- Make a plan. Consider multiple areas of your well-being, such as professional, social, emotional, physical, and spiritual. Are you meeting all of your needs? If the answer is no, consider what small steps you can take to meet your needs. Make specific goals, and keep track of your progress to motivate yourself to keep engaging in positive behaviors.
- Keep learning. The School Resources to Support Military-Connected Students website offers a free series of on-demand trainings for educators that address burnout and compassion fatigue, personal self-care, professional self-care, mindfulness, and social-media use. Each of these trainings takes about 10 minutes to complete and can help remind teachers about best practices in burnout prevention.
To visit these trainings and learn more about self-care and burnout prevention, please click here: https://schoolresources.militaryfamilies.psu.edu/modules/series/self-care/
Happy teacher appreciation week and thank you for all you do to support students! We hope these resources are useful in your professional practice. If you have questions or need help, visit the Contact Us page to reach out to us. If you would like to receive updates about new trainings or resources, sign up for our Mailing List.
Gallup (2022). Gallup panel workforce study. https://www.gallup.com/workplace/349484/state-of-the-global-workplace-2022-report.aspx