RECAPTURING YOUR JOY: Beyond the Burnout
Trying to teach without joy is like trying to breathe out of your mouth only. Difficult. Ten days from the end of my 26th year served as an educator, I reflect with appreciation the mental space and emotional state I currently occupy. A year removed from the 'burnout' I've felt the previous three years, it was during the time I researched the subject of burnout to include in the content of my book I discovered I was experiencing the symptoms listed. Intense feelings of frustration associated with feeling unsupported, disregarded, and unsafe affected my 'professional self-esteem' causing me to feel insecure, uncertain, and disillusioned. All of which was new to me as an educator and professional.
At the height of my burnout, I returned to a new school year feeling as frustrated as the previous year had ended. That was a first for me. Prior to previous years concluding, I would always feel inspired and excited about the new school year before the current year ended. As this current year comes to a close, I am elated and appreciative to have that since of joy and expectancy return to me. I look forward to the year ending and time away from the routine of school as much as the students. Summer is my opportunity to recover, replenish, recuperate, and become reinvigorated ready to return to inspire, influence, and impact.
My experience with burnout has provided me with insights I included in my book Apples of Grace: 31 Days of Inspiration for the Educator to help educators in minimizing the effects of burnout while enhancing their ability in winning student cooperation within the classroom. Consider the following as you continue in your journey as an educator to help reduce and minimize the effects of 'teacher burnout:'
1) keep your mind inside the classroom (avoid focusing on things out of your control)
2) encourage yourself (minimize the amount of negative talk and energy you take in)
3) take time to reflect (think about what went right sometimes/journal)
4) improve classroom management (plan strategically how to handle what you dread)
5) ask for help (improve professional practice with professional development/colleague assistance)
6) access the village (find the person a difficult student listens to- teacher/admin/counselor/parent)
7) recognize limitations in your role and responsibility as an educator (in your ability to affect change)
8) nurture professional self-esteem (recall successes, acknowledge progress, cultivate belief you make a difference)
9) Pray, forgive, transcend (release resentment, offenses, and resolve to rise above it all)
Our professional self-esteem - who we are and what we do as educators to feel good about ourselves in our role and responsibility as classroom teachers - can become weighed down with burdens on our shoulders we are not meant to carry. Effective classroom management requires us to maintain our own self-care practices along with teaching our students to do the same. The best gift we can give our students is the ability to cope. Too often, teachers take on the burdens of their students to their own detriment leaving them overwhelmed and without the needed energy and enthusiasm to endure the challenges that arise from year to year.
Resolve you will improve your self-care practices that include building your professional self-esteem so you can consistently operate at your optimal best to inspire, influence, and impact your students within your classroom.
Cortland Jones is an educator in Prince George's County Public Schools with over 15 years of experience facilitating classroom management workshops. He is the author of two published books, has established a teacher support group within his school community called The Teacher's Lounge to support his colleagues with improving their classroom management, and provides empowerment coaching for aspiring authors, entrepreneurs, and educators who seek support in improving their professional practice. firstname.lastname@example.org Let's connect!