If you’ve been on teacher TikTok lately, you may be seeing more and more posts about people leaving the classroom. Let’s face it, we can all agree that the world of teaching has changed dramatically in the last few years BUT this post isn’t to complain or encourage you to quit your job. Today, we’re chatting about 5 realistic and practical steps you can take to beat teacher burnout and start loving your job again.
Step 1: Ditch the Perfectionist Mindset
Let’s face it – being a perfectionist seems to be part of the teacher DNA. It took me a while to overcome this, so don’t expect a miracle overnight. But here’s a little saying I want you to start repeating to yourself: “Done is better than perfect.”
Here are some examples of moments where you might need this little reminder…
- That plain-looking worksheet you have is just fine. You do NOT need to spend hours picking fonts and clipart for something that will be used for one period. As long as the content is good, save yourself the time.
- If the textbook works, just use the dang textbook. It’s okay to assign textbook work as practice every once in a while.
- Your classroom does NOT need to be picture-perfect and spotless every day. Do what you need to do to keep your sanity and walk away from the rest!
- You don’t need to write paragraphs of feedback on every single thing you grade. Done > perfect. Focus on providing great feedback on the big projects
You may feel weird approaching things this way at first, but I promise your sanity (and teacher burnout) will thank you so hard at the end of the week. This will give you more time to be creative and pour into the subjects, lessons or units that really light you up!
Step 2: Acceptance – You Can’t Be Everything for Every Student
This year has felt a bit like the wild west for me. Kids have changed, behaviors are all over the place, needs are through the roof and respect can be hard to come by. I think all of these factors are huge contributors towards teacher burnout because these things combined have made the task of reaching every student this year feel absolutely impossible. No matter how hard I tried or how much of my energy I put into it, there were still students that weren’t stepping up and truly listening or caring about school.
Eventually, I knew I had to let go of the idea that I was going to see drastic changes in student academics or behaviours this year. I accepted that I can’t be everything for every student this year and that realization brought me a LOT of peace.
Now, I go to work and I focus on doing my best. I care for my students and I try to give them valuable, fun and rigorous learning experiences but I will not do anything at the expense of my own mental health. You won’t make huge gains with every student this year, but I’m here to remind you that’s OKAY. ❤️🩹 The teacher burnout is not worth it!
Avoiding Teacher Burnout Step 3: Buy the Units.
I know, I know. In this economy you may want to scroll right past this step but I promise this one is worth reading.
You may be surprised to hear that I used to have a very hard time purchasing resources/units on TpT for my classroom. Not because I didn’t think they were great, but because I am cheap 💁🏼♀️ I always thought, “I can make it myself” so I’d rather save the $10.
Spoiler alert, that mindset led me straight to teacher burnout. So let’s reframe the way we think about spending our own money on resources.
I know it sucks that our education systems are underfunded and I KNOW you’d rather spend $10 on a couple of Starbucks runs. But the moment I started thinking about this differently was the moment I actually started breathing on the weekends and having REAL work-life balance.
Now, instead of looking at a $20 resource and thinking “I could save that” or “I could buy a bottle of wine with that”, I ask myself… How long would it take me to plan this unit myself?
So, if I’m looking at a Science unit for $20, and my answer to that question is at least 10 hours… we’re looking at a total of $2.00/hour.
Then I ask, how much money would I pay to get 10 hours of my weekend to spend with my family or friends? The answer is usually ALWAYS more than what the resource comes out to. So ask yourself, how much is the teacher burnout worth?
Step 4: Use School Time Wisely
I know the school day is exhausting, but once I started holding myself accountable to getting things done on my preps – I started taking a LOT less work home. Take it from my husband who actually said “this year is the most balanced I have every seen you with teaching”.
Each day of the week, I have a plan for what I am going to get done during my prep. Sometimes, I use my breaks to get bigger tasks done if I need to! For example… Monday – Wednesday = grading/unit planning, Thursday = weekly plans for next week, Friday = Photocopies.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I am very unproductive and spend the day chatting with colleagues, but I try to multi-task and use every minute of the day when I can so that I can focus on myself when I get home. This will seriously help the feelings of teacher burnout!
Also.. never work harder than your students. Start implementing class jobs to get all of those odds and ends done by the kids. They love the responsibility and it’ll save you hours of tidying/mindless tasks!
Step 5: Schedule Time for the Things You Love
It is so easy to get wrapped up in teaching. Let’s face it, our to-do lists literally never end, even when summer comes (hence the teacher burnout 😅).
Start to come up with a few different activities or hobbies you love and schedule them into your weekly plans. Consider these non-negotiables and make sure they happen. The more you start to fill your cup outside of work, the more you will love teaching again because it won’t be your entire identity.
Every week, I make sure I have time for:
- 4 workouts
- Date night (even something casual at home)
- A plan with friends or family
This keeps me SANE, happy and leaves the teacher burnout at the door. It’s nothing complicated and could be as simple as grabbing a coffee at your favourite place on a Sunday morning – but I promise these little things will start to make a difference! If you want to read more about my teacher routines, click here!
So teacher friends, I hope these steps gave you the inspiration you need to kick teacher burnout to the curb. I promise you got this. ❤️