Navigating Teacher Burnout: 5 Important Strategies for Social Studies Educators
By Kirsten Hammond
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Let’s talk real-life stuff – the kind that doesn’t make it into the lesson plans.
Teacher burnout is the not-so-friendly monster that’s been knocking on our classroom doors lately, and it’s got a lot to do with the crazy mix of a teacher shortage, crazy expectations, endless to-dos, and, oh yeah, the pandemic throwing its curveballs. We’re the go-getters, always pushing ourselves to be the superheroes in the classroom. But guess what? Even superheroes need a break.
Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of teacher burnout: what it is, how to recognize the signs of teacher burnout, and, most importantly, five strategies to combat it.
Understanding Teacher Burnout: A Quick Overview
Psychology Today defines burnout as a state of chronic stress leading to physical and emotional exhaustion, detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness.
Interestingly, high-achieving teachers could potentially be more susceptible to burnout – we are always striving to have things in tip-top shape and doing the best for our students.
This might include staying for a couple of hours after school (daily) to prep for the perfect lessons, catching up with grading, and generally trying to be the best teacher we can be.
Signs of Teacher Burnout: Recognizing the Red Flags
Identifying burnout is crucial. Here are some important signs that you may be at risk of burnout.
Signs may include insomnia, constant fatigue, difficulty concentrating, appetite and weight issues, and feelings of depression and anxiety.
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, remember, that you’re not alone, and it’s not normal. If needed, it is important to seek support from a doctor or therapist, depending on the severity of the symptoms.
Five Strategies to Combat Teacher Burnout
While it may not be 100% fool-proof, here are a few ways that could help improve the feelings of teacher burnout. You can use one or more of these strategies to help improve your overall well-being.
Take Back Your Weekends
Disconnect from school-related thoughts, emails, and tasks. Engage in activities you love. Explore local events or try a new hobby (or pick up an old one) to rejuvenate your spirit.
Organize your teaching priorities with self-care at the top. If you need rest, take a day off. Remember, you come first. You’re the hero in the trenches.
Not Everything Is a Must-Do
Accept that not everything is crucial. Implement a hard cutoff for tasks and activities. Time management is key, and you can always revisit missed lessons later.
Positive Support System
Surround yourself with positivity. Avoid negative environments that contribute to burnout (such as in the teacher’s lounge!!). Seek out a supportive network of colleagues who understand the challenges but focus on solutions.
Change It Up
Consider a change in grade levels, subjects, or even schools. Sometimes a fresh start can be the antidote to burnout. Assess what’s best for you and don’t hesitate to make a move.
My Personal Experience
Reflecting on my own experience with burnout last year, I realized I needed a change. A move to a new city, coupled with a surprise pregnancy, became the reset button I desperately needed.
While not every solution is perfect, recognizing burnout and taking proactive steps can make a significant difference in your well-being.
If you’re resonating with these struggles, pick one strategy to combat burnout. Whether it’s reclaiming your weekends, prioritizing self-care, or seeking positive support, give yourself grace.
Acknowledge that this academic year may bring unique challenges, but implementing these strategies can pave the way for a more manageable and fulfilling teaching experience.
Here’s to conquering teacher burnout and making social studies an engaging adventure in your classroom! Until next time, happy teaching!
Kirsten is a former 3rd and 5th grade teacher who loves helping upper elementary teachers by creating resources and sharing ideas that are engaging, research-based, and TEKS-aligned. She is a work-from-home mama of 3 rambunctious little ones and loves running, true crime, and lots of coffee.