Although rewarding, teaching is a difficult profession. Without proper support the emotional and mental toll can lead to burnout at any point in a teaching career. We want to support all teachers to manage a work/life balance in 2020, so we’ve created 7 tips learned from teachers on ways to improve your wellbeing in and outside of the classroom.
Seek out a teaching mentor
Do you have moments when you feel overwhelmed and question yourself? Don’t worry you’re not alone, we’ve all have had these moments and understand how exhausting it can feel. After speaking with a number of teachers on the subject, we’ve learned that seeking out a teacher mentor is one of the most useful methods for coping with these feelings.
A mentor can help reassure you that doubts are perfectly normal and can help with tried and tested strategies to manage high stress levels, workloads and overcome feelings of helplessness. It is important to remember even when you are standing up in front of the class you are not in this profession alone and your peers and leaders can offer you incredible support.
Speak up when you need help
Schools are a community and your teaching peers and leaders can help support you on your teaching journey. If you are feeling overwhelmed with the workload or emotionally drained it is always a good idea to talk to a trusted member of your team, head of department or school leader.
Taking on too much can easily lead to burnout and schools have strategies and plans in place to support your workload if you let them know that you need some help. They might discover an imbalance in your team’s workload or have a process in place to help spread the workload. Speaking up can be scary, but you will not be judged and it could be the best way to help your wellbeing, which is the most important thing.
School leaders need your feedback to better understand how to make their school the best working environment possible, and retain their teachers. Staff Pulse is a tool schools can use to send anonymous surveys
Don’t recreate the wheel
You are not the first person and you will not be the last person to teach a subject you are struggling to find lessons for. Why not take some of the stress away from planning these lessons and use a resource created by an Australian teacher for your curriculum? Tes resources gives you access to over 900,000 resources, including more than 16,000 Australian and New Zealand resources that have been created by teachers for these exact situations. These resources can help you plan you’re your lessons and gives you time to focus on all of those other tasks on your list.
Put limits on your time spent working outside of school hours
Do you take your school work home and spend hours working through it, making yourself feel exhausted but seemingly get nothing done? One strategy many teachers have found helpful is to set aside a reasonable time after school to finish off work before leaving. This can help you separate work life and home life and can help you relax and enjoy your time at home away from work. Prioritizing and planning tasks whilst at school can streamline your processes and help you work more efficiently. If you do take work home make sure you also employ these strategies and plan exactly how long these tasks will take. If you are unable to put a limit on the work you do outside of school it is a good idea to talk to your teaching team or head of department to help manage your workload.
Teaching can be an emotionally draining career. If you are struggling with stress and emotional exhaustion it might be worth giving mindfulness and meditation a try. Whilst it can seem intimidating, mindfulness is essentially paying attention to your thoughts, environment and emotions in the present moment. These practices don’t have to be arduous or lengthy, but a continuous short practice is key. Mindfulness can help you reduce stress and can also help boost your confidence in the classroom. Next time you are feeling overwhelmed take a moment to catch your breath, consider your feelings and practice self-compassion. Or perhaps you would prefer to try a guided 5 minute meditation on YouTube as a way to give back a few moments to yourself. Both have excellent impacts on your emotional state and might be key to your wellbeing long term.
Nurture good relationships outside of work
Teaching friends are great; they understand what others never can. Who else knows that feeling when students are running around on the last Friday of term at 2pm, when none of your lessons have gone to plan all day or when that Monday afternoon staff meeting is looming? Whilst it’s good to have those friends at school it’s just as important to maintain socialization and friendships out of work hours. Spending time with a friend outside of work can do wonders for your stress and emotional state. Whether this is a teaching friend or not it is beneficial to your mental health to socialize outside of work hours, even if it is just a quick catch up over a cup of tea or an evening stroll.
Sign up to a set activity or class that you have an interest in
Teachers are notorious for working after hours and sometimes after a long day it’s hard to find the motivation to jump into an activity. Having a scheduled activity after work hours, such as a set yoga class, book club or art class will encourage you to put time aside for these hobbies. Because these weekly activities have been booked in advance and possibly pre-paid you will be more determined not to skip out on them, even if your motivation levels are low. This ensures that you make time for non-school related passions and can continue to do the things you love.
We hope these help you in the coming teaching year! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know if you have had any success with these tips or have your own strategies that you think would benefit other teachers.