How to Prevent Teacher Burnout: 15 Tips for Your Well-Being

Teacher burnout has been hitting education systems hard, resulting in a massive exodus from the field that can have jarring repercussions for schools and the students they serve. Educators deserve to be well, and school leaders can have a powerful impact schoolwide. In this article, we’ll discuss the 15 proven tips on how to prevent teacher burnout on an individual and organizational basis. Ready to reduce stress and take well-being to the next level? Contact Dr. Buzz Mingin today for personal and professional resources.

Tips for Preventing Burnout as a Teacher

Both new and veteran teachers are constantly juggling the needs of others, from students to their families to the school’s administration. As a teacher, you run the risk of falling into teacher burnout if you don’t prioritize your own self-care. Symptoms of burnout, whether it’s teacher burnout or nurse burnout, include physical and emotional exhaustion, apathy, and reduced personal performance or accomplishment. Maybe that looks like job-related stress, trouble concentrating, or a significant dip in your mental health. So, what can you do? Let’s take a look at these ten recommendations for preventing teacher burnout.

1. Find Someone to Discuss Your Stressors

When we think about stress we often focus on how we feel, but don’t examine or assess the prompts or triggers that are activated that led us to this undesired feeling. These prompts are often called Stressors. Talking to someone who isn’t related to you or someone you work with like a therapist, a life coach, a pastor or rabbi from your congregation can be an effective means to invest in when you are feeling overwhelmed by stressors. The professional you speak to may be able to:
  • Reorganize your thinking
  • Teach you how to reset your perspective
  • Resolve the stressful memories you had from your past
  • Give you tools for coping
  • Teach you how control your breathing
  • Help you create more structure
Utilizing this type of resource is a healthy emotional and psychological getaway, allowing you to gain an unbiased perspective of what to do versus speaking to someone you know or are related to.

2. Keep Yourself Healthy

In order to keep yourself healthy, there are three functions – sleep, diet, and exercise – every person should prioritize, especially hard working educators! Sleep is the driver to living longer, avoiding sickness and disease, and experiencing a lifestyle and workstyle of thriving not just surviving. That means 7 to 9 hours of sleep in a dark room and on a set schedule is critical. When it comes to diet, I recommend:
  • Eating 7 to 9 cups of greens a day,
  • Drinking half of your bodyweight in ounces of water every day,
  • Fasting with at least 12 hours between your last meal and your first meal of the next day
  • Eat all of your meals in a 7 hour window.
Additionally, exercise routines that are on a schedule like walking two times for 20 minutes in a day compliment educators’ efforts to be healthy, feel good, and be mentally prepared for your workday.

3. Talk with Your Fellow Educators

When you are in need of more tools, creative ideas, or expert opinions that will ultimately benefit you and your performance at your job, reach out to a colleague. For example, if you’re an educator and are struggling to structure your classroom management, complete organized lesson plans, or differentiate your instruction to meet all the students’ learning styles, ask fellow teachers who are observably successful and efficient for advice. All schools have supervisors, coordinators, and department heads who are responsible to provide ongoing assistance and oversight for improved work performance. But, let’s not forget that you have colleagues who are “in the same trenches” similar or the same as you and people who may lend some simple tools and techniques for immediate and sustainable relief.

4. Set Aside Time for Yourself

Every educator should take personal time for themselves for a short period during your school day, as well as when you get home each day. During that time at school, you can create boundaries by eating lunch by yourself where you can take your time, read a short article from a magazine, or even a page from a book that you started. When you are at home, the same deserving recommendations are made. All educators deserve a period of time to oneself to take a bath, take a walk, read some content, call a friend, go to the gym, sit at a coffee shop, take a short nap, plant flowers, stretch in your living room, watch a Hallmark movie – any activity that allows you to have a short period of solace without interruption. Practicing and implementing time for yourself allows your body to “rest and digest” which compliments biological, psychological, spiritual, and functional rest and reset!

5. Establish Attainable Goals & Attain Them

When educators are stressed they will commonly do what other professionals do, focus on uncompleted tasks or their unending to-do list, versus simply getting important details done. In order to complete and achieve your short-term and long-term goals, you should establish a goal with a date attached. Then, you backward design the process all the way to today of what the steps are that need to be completed in order to achieve the longer term goal “on time.” The steps to the goal are called “the process” or “the scaffold” and this process is built into your schedule every day so you focus on each next step to complete and high five yourself on your daily completed tasks!

6. Leave Your Work at School

“Leave your work at school” is a recommendation for educators to attempt to complete all school responsibilities “at school” so you don’t have to complete any work-related details when you are at home. Completing all of your details at your work/school location allows you to compartmentalize your thinking, planning, and execution of follow through with after school, non school related activities, which have nothing to do with education or work related responsibilities. This will have a positive impact on you and your family. This also means, when you leave your work/school location, attempt to leave your emotion from the day at work also so you can invest all of your emotion into your home, your family, and your need for rest and relaxation.

7. Solve Issues Promptly

There is the old saying, “don’t delay the inevitable” which basically means, take care of the issue now or you will be trying to resolve the same, if not worse, issue later. In order to achieve the goal of problem solving, educators must first assess and ask themselves, “What can I control?” We can’t fix or control everything that goes on in our day. But, there are some hurdles and problems we can control. Of the many problems we encounter, we have to ask ourselves if it is important to solve this problem right now or is it critical to solve this problem right now. This triage of important versus urgent is a time and mental energy saver. Too often we put emphasis on what is important but not urgent which makes us vulnerable and even more stressed.

8. Don’t Start & Don’t Get Involved in Conflict

When conflicts arise, the goal is always to resolve, but often, to not get involved. If we involve ourselves in a situation that is not our business, we have now added another responsibility to our plate. Therefore, when educators feel the tension of a potential conflict, they should seek help or assistance from the appropriate support staff i.e. administration, counselors, etc. If an educator doesn’t know who to reach out to the needed resource, then one should ask a coworker about the policy, procedure, or protocol, so they are familiar and educated for the next time. If an educator is aware of the process but is not trained on how to execute the process, the educator should email the request to their superior to gain the training needed to become a skilled and knowledgeable responder. When these recommendations are missed or avoided, educators tend to react to situations versus versus respond to situations.

9. Don’t be Afraid to Say “No”

It is sad that the word “No” is devastating to many. For some, it is a sign of defeat and for others, it is a matter of disappointment. And then, there are some that feel the word “No” is actually hurtful. But, when you break down the context of what we are really saying, it’s actually something like this, “It is not the right time, you are not the perfect fit, it is not going to meet our schedule, we don’t have enough money, we have to wait until tomorrow, someone could get hurt, we can’t afford that, you are too young, etc”. Setting boundaries allows you to establish healthy relationships both in and out of work. So, if you struggle to set a boundary or to say the word “No,” then use a specific language that tells the other person what your goal is without actually using the word “No.” Like, “ maybe we can do that on another day or I think we should find someone else who is more experienced to get that done for us”

10. Take a Day Off

Taking a day off from work is a common suggestion educators receive from loved ones that many educators stress about because they feel that if they take a day off, they will be yet another day behind when they return to work. Sadly, people will take a day off from work to rest and they end up running errands, managing crises, or helping others with their needs. But, if you as an educator develop and execute a plan for complete personal wellness and restoration during your day off, the benefits that you may experience could be life changing. That said, you have to create a structured plan for your recovery that you will absolutely execute, so your goals of recovery are in fact achieved.

Preventing Burnout as School Administrators

School leaders are often pulled in numerous directions, dealing with district-level compliance, teacher shortages, staffing needs, and enforcing school policies. Nothing about the job is easy, but you do have an immense amount of power to enact positive change, especially for your teachers. Here are five tips to prevent burnout as a school administrator.

1. Consult with a Professional

Consulting with a professional is always a healthy choice, as having an unbiased and clinical perspective of what you “need” to hear versus what you “want” to hear helps you live a life of wellness, resilience, and immunity. So, what does this look like? Well, it doesn’t mean that just because educators are stressed that they should pursue a diagnosis or be prescribed psychiatric medication (though, for some, this may be very helpful). No, it actually means, speaking to someone who can understand the functions of an educator. Being able to empathize with those details will allow a clinician to provide healthy coping tools that are effective and sustainable to an educator. This practice of seeking professional support can be the difference between coping versus not coping with work-related stress.

2. Provide Clear Mentorship Opportunities for Educators

Mentoring is an honorable effort for someone who is experienced and can provide opportunities to a mentee. This process allows the mentee to gain tools for improvement, which can be highly profitable when the supervision is coming from a professional with seasoned experience. One of the keys to being an effective mentor is having proactive structure so administrators can demonstrate the benefits of structure to the mentee. Another important variable is that all mentors exercise effective communication and provide meaningful professional development. Mentors are important people for building and developing employee’s confidence. Therefore, mentors are best served when they are inspiring and promote a vision for others to follow.

3. Ensure a Level of Autonomy for Teachers

Autonomy, the act of working independently, comes with a feeling of certainty and self-confidence that combats teachers experiencing burnout. When schools have consistent schoolwide structure, there are greater opportunities for success in developing and sustaining teacher autonomy. This system may include teachers following the same structure in all of their classes, even though the content of each class is unique. It could also include teachers gaining additional training in the beginning of the year and then consistent training throughout the year. Lastly, teachers can gain more autonomy when there is consistent administrative support and oversight. When the leadership of the teaching staff is structured and coordinated, teacher autonomy has greater efficacy because every teacher is similarly trained and supported. They can then put their energy into creativity in the classroom and relationship building with their students and count on receiving positive feedback from their superiors!

4. Don’t Overload Teachers with More Responsibilities

When teachers are already stacked with many details, have unpredictable emails and related parent correspondence pending, tests to grade, and deadlines to meet, anything extra becomes a burden and a stressor. If we give more to teachers to manage, they have less time and energy for relationship building with their students, creative lesson planning, and managing student behavior. Some administrators and supervisors may inaccurately perceive teachers have a few more minutes to complete more tasks than they already have; however, it’s the physical and emotional impact of being expected to complete even more tasks that takes a toll on teachers. What is really concerning is this experience will ultimately have a negative impact on the students teachers educate.

5. Hear Out Concerns from Educators

Educators who are struggling to manage their schedules, find time to reset and gather themselves, attend to all of their students’ needs, provide guidance to students who themselves are struggling with stress, and still get meaningful lessons structured for student learning has been a challenge over the past few years. Because educators are still responsible for educating students regardless of the unique and trying times the educational communities are experiencing, it is critical educators have administrators who are available to them. This way, educators in need have someone to turn to, to share their experiences with, to vent their frustrations, and to receive positive and constructive feedback for their resilience and motivation. When educators feel supported, they gain confidence in the management of their team and gratitude among those whom they are surrounded.

Hire Dr. Buzz Mingin to Prevent Teacher Burnout

Teacher burnout can have devastating effects on overall workplace well-being. Implementing these 15 tips can take time and effort, but it’s well worth it when your mental and physical health are on the line. Dr. Buzz Mingin has years of professional experience behind him, allowing him to identify your individual or organizational strengths and make recommendations for how to improve. Don’t let teacher burnout get the best of you. Contact Dr. Buzz Mingin today for a free consultation on how to reduce stress and prevent burnout before it’s too late.