Tips to Prevent Burnout
Willy A Renandya
Teaching is a highly demanding job, both cognitively and emotionally. There is so much to do in school: preparing lessons, marking student papers, helping students with special needs, doing remedial lessons for those who lag behind their peers, dealing with difficult students, not to mention the endless administrative duties that they have to do.
The Covid-19 pandemic has made onsite as well as online teaching particularly challenging. In some low-resource countries, schools may not have the necessary support structure to help teachers cope with the demand of online teaching.
In high-resource countries, the online infrastructure may be available but many teachers face numerous other challenges such as how to use tech tools can help them engage students during synchronous and asynchronous learning.
All these can be emotionally draining not only for beginning teachers but also the most seasoned and experienced teachers.
So teacher burnout is quite common these days. What can one do to prevent burnout? Here are some suggestions:
- Form a support group. This is an excellent way to share your joy and also daily struggles with your colleagues. You can meet at Starbucks or any other place where you can simply let off steam and air your grievances to sympathetic ears.
- Manage your expectations and be prepared to accept the fact that current conditions may have unwanted impact on your teaching, which in turns may lower the quality of student learning.
- Continue to explore ways to engage your students during in-person or remote lessons. Consult your colleagues for teaching ideas and share your ideas with them too.
- Explore new ideas from the Internet. These days, you can find almost anything that you want to know from online professional development groups on social media, educational websites, Youtube etc.
- Look at the brighter side of things. Yes the pandemic has brought about untold misery and sufferings, but it has also opened up lots of learning opportunities for us. The pandemic for example has greatly accelerated the adoption rate of technology in education. In my case, I have become more confident in using some useful tech tools for my teaching.
When the pandemic is over, we may consider using different strategies to prevent burnout. I list some of these below.
- Don’t teach the same group of students for too long. If you have been teaching Year 1 students for 3 years, then ask that you be assigned to teach final year students.
- Teach different courses. If you have been teaching reading for a few years, try teaching speaking, listening or writing the following years.
- Teach a brand new course. Yes it takes time to put together a new course, but this is an excellent way to break the monotony in your job. It is also an excellent professional development activity as you will need to read books, consult more knowledgeable colleagues, synthesize a lot of information, search for relevant materials for the new course.
- Take Sabbatical leave. This simply means being away from your routine job for a period of time (perhaps 3 months). If this is not possible, take unpaid leave for a couple of months and find a visiting position in another university overseas. Get a new job. After years of teaching in the same place, you may feel that you have stopped growing professionally. When this happens, you might want to consider relocating. Working in a new place can be very refreshing (though not without challenges) and give you a renewed energy to flourish intellectually, emotionally and socially as well.
- Consider furthering your studies. This is a great way to recharge your battery. You will meet new friends, learn new things and more importantly, be away from your daily routines. Upon completion of your studies, you will feel rejuvenated and resume your teaching job with renewed energy and enthusiasm.
Do leave a message below if you have used effective strategies to reduce teacher burnout.