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Advice from a Teacher: How to Avoid Burnout

Teacher strikes might be a reality in Norway by the end of May. Last year’s strike did not have the desired effect even if many thought that last year was the year for the teaching profession. Perhaps this year, who knows.  “More than 20,000 public sector employees, many of them teachers and nurses, are now on strike in Norway after municipal employers refused to take the initiative for renewed negotiations. The teachers and nurses especially can claim public support even after, or perhaps because of, a difficult Corona year.” News in English .

Anyway, I just read this post by Diane Ravitch where she quotes a comment by Mamie Krupczak Allegretti an avid reader of Diane’s blog. Looks like good advice to me so I am sharing the comment below. Remeber that this is a job that very quickly demands too much of you as a teacher. Nobody benefits from a burned-out teacher that is for sure.

Anytime a person is burned out, demoralized and ready to quit his/her job, something is wrong. It’s not just that something is wrong with the way the institution is run (which there are many), but there can also be something wrong with the way the person is approaching the job.

Many teachers have what I call “Mamma bird syndrome.” They spend they time driving themselves into the ground giving and giving until they are exhausted. People commend them for outstanding work but inside they are tired and resentful.

If you want to be a teacher, it doesn’t seem that the craziness of the institution is going to change anytime soon. So if you really want to teach, you have to find ways to protect yourself, conserve and pace your energy, and lead a balanced life.

There are 3 rules to live by:

1. let go,

2. learn to say “no,” and

3. prioritize what you value.

What I am really getting at here is learning to create boundaries for yourself. Let go of things and situations over which you have no control and are not in your job description. Sure, there are days when you may be able to do more, but monitor yourself and your energy. Learn the boundaries of your energy and then decide what you are willing to give.

Learn to say no to extra duties and requests. Prioritize what you value. If you value excellent lesson plans, put your energy into that. But know that if you try to do it all, something will give and it will most likely be your health – mental and/or physical.

Your school day ends at a certain time. Keep to that time. If you have to work at home, set a boundary of say 45 minutes. You need to remember that this is a job and you need to have a life outside of school.

So, I’m not saying that teachers should never go above and beyond at times but when fatigue, resentment and a desire to flee show up, something in yourself needs to change. I think these are the biggest lessons young teachers (and even old) have to learn

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