Teaching is a profession that can be extremely rewarding — but also very stressful. Studies show that 91% of US teachers report excess workload being a major contributing factor to their stress and that 15% of US teachers leave the profession every single year due to stress and burnout. Other countries show similar statistics.
Fortunately, there are some proven ways to cope with stress to prevent teacher burnout:
If you’ve allowed yourself 30 minutes after each school day to look over the day’s assignments and prepare for the next day, make sure you use those 30 minutes. Close the door, and put your phone and other personal projects away. Of course, we must all take into account staff meetings or parent-teacher conferences, but otherwise, keep to your schedule.
By using those 30 minutes productively, you can set yourself up for success the following day AND reduce your stress levels when you go home.
If you have a parent volunteer in your classroom, give them some tasks — that’s what they’re there for! They can change the classroom decor, sort projects, mark straightforward assignments, photocopy handouts, and other small jobs that take up your time. By freeing your hands of small tasks, you can use that time to mark papers, connect with students, and prepare the next day’s lesson plan.
And if you know other teachers teaching the same grade as you, see if you can pair up with them — perhaps even if they’re at a different school. There’s a good chance you’ll have the same material to teach throughout the year, so you can take turns making lesson plans you can both use.
This is essential in all aspects of your life; however, this is especially true at work when you’re already feeling extra stressed. Some people will always find something to complain about, and it’s very easy to start sharing your own complaints and commiserating with these people when you’re around them. Try your best to avoid the negativity. Instead, simply excuse yourself once they start and draw firm boundaries.
Find people in all parts of your life who focus on the positive and are a lot more joyful to be around.
We’ve all stood in front of our closet wondering what to wear that day, but that’s just going to cause more delays and stress. Instead, try laying out your clothes and setting out everything you need the night before. This will help you get through your morning a bit easier. Also, get in the habit of setting aside some downtime to refresh your batteries. This can include anything from getting enough sleep with a bedtime routine to scheduling in quality time with friends and family.
Just make sure not to overschedule yourself! It may sound counterintuitive, but even doing too much fun stuff can lead to burnout.
We’ve talked before about how mindfulness is so important, and bringing it into the classroom can be excellent for both you and the kids you’re teaching. You’ll all notice the incredible benefits, and your days should go a bit more smoothly.
During the week, it’s tough to practice good self-care. However, by scheduling some time during the evenings or weekends to do things you enjoy and make you feel good, you can ensure you feel rested and calm for the coming day or week. It could be as simple as reading a book, going to the spa, taking a walk in nature, or meditating for 15 minutes.
At Dolphin Kids, we offer a variety of workshops for teachers, parents, and children to help cultivate mindfulness and help everyone function at their very best. Our programs can help teachers maintain optimal mental health and prevent burnout. Contact us today for more information.