If you find yourself falling under any of the following categories, it’s time to take action. Once a teacher burns out, it’s almost impossible to recover.
No Social Life
You stay home every weekend. Family and friends complain that you have no time for them. You don’t bother returning phone calls. You even skip school-related events because you can’t give any more of your time. Time is spent correcting and planning your life away, and you can’t imagine letting go and enjoying yourself.
Plan personal time. Make weekly dates on your calendar to do something. Go see a movie, or go with colleagues to a local hot spot. School guilt will follow you around for a while, but if you plan regular events, the guilt will fade.
Mind Races With School Thoughts
You think about school every waking minute. You cannot shut off school in your mind. Often, you dream about school, sometimes having nightmares, other times teaching lessons throughout the night. You can’t even take a shower without planning lessons or thinking about discipline issues.
The best way to rid yourself of a racing mind is through physical activity. Exercise will get you out of your head and centered in your body.
You are run down. Your drink more coffee each day. You fall asleep after dinner, and you wake up in the evening. Or perhaps you don’t even realize that you’re tired, but you keep forgetting and misplacing things. You’ve become accident prone, tripping over your own feet, dropping items repeatedly.
You need quality, eight hours of sleep. Do not drink caffeine in the late afternoon. Go to bed at the same time every night, and when your alarm goes off, never press snooze. The more you try to sneak in those last few minutes of sleep, the worse you will feel.
Disorder At Home
Is your home accumulating clutter? Are laundry and dishes piling up? Is the refrigerator empty? Often your home reflects your current emotional state. It’s time to prioritize, even if that means asking others for help.
Skipping Meals or Overeating
Is your car full of drive-thru garbage? Do you skip breakfast or lunch? Skipping meals to gain time only exacerbates your stress level.
Do you correct papers while pigging out on cookies? Stress can also cause emotional eating, where you eat to soothe yourself from the stress you feel.
All teachers have emotional outbursts once in a while – they’re only human. But if you find yourself crying weekly, or having severe moodiness, something is wrong. You need to either immediately reduce your stress or seek counseling.
Loss of Identity
You have become a teacher – only. You’ve forgotten who you are and even what you like. The pressure to be the perfect role model has made you believe you can’t show weakness or personality.
Being who you are will actually make you a better teacher. So be an American Idol fanatic, dress up like a Star Trek character, write a Gothic novel, or go to Target in sweatpants and disheveled hair. Live a little!
Changing to a Pessimistic Attitude
You’ve stopped seeing the positives in teaching, and instead you focus on the negatives. All talk with colleagues revolves around the futile state of education. At meetings, you argue over petty school policies. You feel a loss of control over how to fix the state of education. You wonder what’s the point in trying to win a lost battle.
Start talking more with colleagues who love their jobs. Read inspirational teaching stories. Rediscover why you became a teacher in the first place.
Remember above all else, you became a teacher for a reason. Now it’s time to take care of yourself so you can be the teacher you always thought you’d be.