7 Tips for Preventing Educator Burnout
A recent poll published by Gallup revealed that in the United States, 44% of teachers in K-12 education and 35% of college and university teachers said they very often or always feel burned out at work. Both of these occupations were listed as the top two occupations among the 14 listed in the poll on occupational burnout.
Teachers bear the brunt of criticism in the modern era of social media and helicopter parenting. They face enormous pressure from parents, students, and the public to pass students or increase student outcomes, while in many cases receiving fewer resources (Herman, et al, 2018). No wonder burnout is so prevalent in the teaching profession.
With so much pressure and demand, here are 7 tips for preventing educator burnout:
- Stay healthy
- Indulge in personal time
- Talk to your colleagues/peers
- Recognize what you do well
- Plan and think strategically
- Leave schoolwork at school
- Make yourself a priority
When used together, you and your staff can get through a school year (and even a single day) while staying happy, engaged, and inspired.
- Stay Healthy
Staying healthy is the single most important way to keep yourself and your teachers happy and motivated throughout a school year.
Exercise is the best way to stay healthy. Set up a schedule for every day (or every other day) to work out. That could mean lifting weights, jogging, or even yoga. Regardless, you’re working out your body, which alleviates depression, anxiety, and stress.
If you can’t find time in your day, incorporate it into your curriculum or school culture. Create a “Stretch & Flex” slot with your students/staff (5-10 minutes) every hour. This will not only improve your physical and mental health but will also help to improve the mood and health of your students/staff.
Aside from physical activity, regular sleep schedules also help you deal with stress, anxiety, sadness, depression, heart issues, and way more. A good sleep schedule keeps your mind sharp. It also lets your body rejuvenate so you can meet the day with energy instead of fatigue.
Finally, you can keep yourself engaged by eating healthy. In the same manner that you prep your lessons or day, take time to prep your meals. Healthy snacks can avoid insulin spikes that can result in tiredness and brain fog.
- Indulge in Personal Time
It’s no secret that educators have limited personal time. You work 10 hours per day in school, but you also must plan evaluations, attend meetings, and remediate students, among everything else going on in your life.
But your personal time is just as important as your professional time — maybe even more important, depending on your priorities.
Hobbies are proven to make people happier, especially when you can actually enjoy them. That doesn’t mean you have to start buying model trains or Civil War history books. Hobbies can be as simple as bird watching. They can also be as complex as volunteering.
You can also just kick back, relax, and watch Netflix at the end of a long day. Regardless of what engages your mind during your free time, it should make you happy to indulge in those hobbies.
The point is that your free time matters. If you spend it working, you’re not actually away from work. Instead, you wind up working 12-18 hours every day with a brief break to sleep.
Educators quickly burn out with that kind of schedule. But instead of overworking, you can find ways to enjoy your time away from work and encourage your staff to do the same!
- Talk to Your Colleagues/Peers
No one understands your frustrations and challenges better than your colleagues. Communicating with your peers is one of the best ways you can prevent burnout because they can offer you the best support.
After all, they perform a similar job. If anyone is going to understand your frustrations, it’ll be your colleagues. A network of support is vital, which is why it’s important to connect with others who can understand the challenges you face.
Besides, friends make their friends laugh. That means you can laugh off stress throughout your day instead of keeping it tensed up inside yourself.
Besides a better you will make for a better school and learning environment!
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- Recognize What You Do Well
As a Founder, it’s easy to get bogged down in what still needs to be done or what could be done better. Whether parents are upset with a child’s grade or a teacher is in need of support, it often feels like the world is against you.
That’s why it’s so important to recognize what you do well throughout the year. You are pioneering education freedom! Take pride in that. Recognizing your accomplishments can quickly make you happier when you take inventory of all that you’ve already accomplished.
Even if your best skills take place on off-hours — like strategic planning — you can see the positive results of that work every day. The key is to look for it. Once you open yourself up to the positive results you produce, you can pride yourself on your abilities as an education leader.
- Plan & Think Strategically
If you’re going to lead successfully, you have to have a solid strategic plan. A strategic plan proactively sets objectives to help you get to where you want to go.
Here’s a BIG ONE, share the plan! You’re the visionary, it’s your job to share the vision with you staff, school, students, and parents. Get them to buy-in so you can have support. It’s not all on you to make the vision happen, but it is on you to make it clear.
A clear vision gives way to a common goal and a common goal leads to accomplishments and accomplishments result in pride. A school that is proud performs better.
- Leave Schoolwork at School
When you want to keep yourself and your team from burning out, the best idea is to create boundaries for yourself and them: keep work at work, keep home at home.
Segment the parts of your life that you think should be separate. This requires you to say no sometimes — to both personal and professional opportunities — but these boundaries will make you happier as a person.
You can start setting these boundaries for yourself by keeping your work at school. Draw a line in the sand. If you have to do some work after hours, do it at school. Keep home as the place where you can relax and enjoy time with loved ones.
This’ll also help you plan, indulge, and stay healthy too — all at the same time!
- Make Yourself a Priority
Ultimately, to be a successful leader and avoid burnout, you have to take care of yourself and encourage your teachers to do the same. Happy and healthy administrators and teachers are better equipped to be there for their students.
If you’re enjoying your life, you’re more likely to enjoy your career. But when you burn out, even the smallest tasks become overwhelming chores. Keep yourself in good spirits by making your own wellbeing a priority.
This isn’t to say that you should be self-centered. Instead, you should make sure you’re living a healthy and balanced life where you can succeed at work and at home.
Rather than counting the days to breaks, weekends, and maybe retirement, you’ll find it easier to love every moment in and with your school.
This article was adapted from Zook, C. (2022, November 3). The 7 best ways to avoid teacher
burnout in 2022. CTE Curriculum for Middle and High School Teachers.
Retrieved from https://www.aeseducation.com/blog/best-ways-to-avoid-teacher-burnout;
Teacher burnout statistics: Challenges in K-12 and higher education. Research.com. (2023,
January 23). Retrieved fromhttps://research.com/education/teacher-burnout-challenges-in-k
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