This is great advice from a type-A personality who is a self-proclaimed workaholic. In short, I find it very difficult to slow down at times and this can be a root cause of burnout. According to Merriam-Webster.com, burnout is defined as "exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration." We all experience burnout at some point. Check out this great article from Psychology Today to learn more about burnout, its causes and symptoms, and ways to avoid it.
Burnout is especially common among teachers. We tend to push ourselves beyond our limits on a regular basis and I am no exception. For me, it is often hard to break things up or move away from the daily routine (bells dictate my robotic daily life) and the curriculum the state provides is the same day-after-day and year-after-year. Although I have almost two hours for planning each day, I still bring a lot of work home to deal with in the evenings and especially over the weekends. And, although you might think otherwise, holiday and summer breaks are no exception for me. I usually keep pushing and taking on new tasks until my body finally says its had enough! After 15 years of this never ending cycle, burnout definitely happens. It is one of many reasons that the average teacher leaves the career in their first five years.
So, how do I keep myself from falling apart in those moments when I'm feeling physically or emotionally drained? I work on keeping my skills fresh and expressing myself creatively. Recently, that has involved doing some side jobs building websites for clients. This gives me a chance to practice layout techniques and be creative in a manner that is somewhat different from my normal routine at school. I also take a number of classes from Adobe that are designed for educators. This helps me boost my skills, do something creative that doesn't directly involve creating lessons, while still providing me with ideas for updating my lessons at some point. For some more ideas on how to overcome burnout, listen to one of my favorite internet influencers, Roberto Blake:
If you found the above video interesting or informative, you should check out his YouTube Channel (Always Be Creating) or follow him on Twitter. And, if you want to see some of the creative avenues I have taken outside of school, check out my Adobe Learning Journals:
I am a high school Career & Technical Education (CTE) teacher located in Durham, NC with a focus on game art and design. This blog provides a place for reflection on relevant classroom practices.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent those of my employer or anyone else associated with Durham Public Schools.