Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Don't Crash and Burn!

It's summertime and though it might seem strange to talk about burnout, it's a great time to evaluate and take some preventive measures. During high stress times in the school year: report cards, parent teacher conferences, pink slip time, and those long months with not a single holiday or snow day in sight, the last thing you want to be doing is fighting burnout!

I find that when the pace slows down a bit, I reflect even more than usual, and it is then that I see signs that I am growing weary. When the adrenaline leaves the body, (well, it doesn't actually totally leave, right, but you get my point), I am left exhausted each June, wondering how long it will take, or if I can even totally recover and be ready for a new school year. Sometimes I even ponder a new profession. Seriously!

Here are a few ideas to keep steady and prevent the crash!

  • Validate the exhaustion and take a break! Read the books you haven't had time for, turn off the computer and play with your kids, do whatever it takes to signal to yourself: it's break time!
Spending time with family, especially little cuties like my great nephew Oliver, renews me! 

  • Just as school resumes, don't get sucked into the hysteria of, "There aren't enough hours to get my room perfect!" Involve your students in designing and setting up the room. Of course, this depends on the age of the students and the culture of your school, but if the overriding principle is that your students "own the learning," then they should be partners in owning the space of the classroom. It's not the best view of the open walls ready for student work, but the only thing written on the board is the first day's agenda!
Bulletin boards and white boards are waiting for studentsd

  • Get peer support set up in advance! I have a huge network of wonderful educators on Twitter and a couple of live, local friends who can be there to listen to my struggles and vice versa. That said, take the conversation off the public feed when you've had a rough day! The last thing you need is stress over who saw your "ticked off" tweet. 
These lovely ladies join me in a regular monthly hangout where we share our joys and frustrations. (missing from the pic are Ann Ottmar and Celina Brennan who couldn't be at #iste13 with us :-( ) 

  • Keep a digital notebook to remind you.. of the times you've made a difference. With Evernote and other tools, it's easy to keep those pictures student draw for you, and annotate them with a little extra info so years later you will remember the details. In Evernote, I place a photo of that child with their note/drawing. 

  • And.. you knew this was coming:  Get active by doing exercise you love!  Find ways to continue the exercise into the school year. I found a great group of new friends when I joined a studio last summer. I schedule the classes in advance and put them on my calendar. These classes are then non negotiable: Zumba or cardio kickboxing at 5:30 means that I go on my way home, no questions asked! If I have to stop by Starbucks for an hour of refreshment and work time, then I arrive even more ready for my sweat. There is nothing better to combat stress than exercise. It doesn't have to be all or nothing either: just a 30 minute walk is enough to make a difference! 

My Zumba friends playing a joke on April 1st dressing up like our instructor, Deb.

  • Put a little awe or even aww in your life! Pictures of cute baby animals have a positive impact on cognitive performance. Research here.   Beautiful pictures of nature have a calming effect on me and help me remember times of inspiration and renewal as shown below.  
Nope, not a baby animal but pretty darned cute! 

Alright, I'm sure there are lots of other "burnout busters," but I'd love to hear from you! How you do keep  yourself renewed?


Anonymous said...

What a great list. Thanks for it.

Joan Young (aka Mancini) said...


Busy Bee Andrea said...

Thanks for all the great ideas! My goal this summer was to pool hop and read books (and I have actually accomplished that part of my list!)

K Lirenman said...

So many great ideas here. My goal word for this year has been balance .While I many not be perfect at achieving it on a day to day basis I am trying. Getting moving is a step in the right direction for certain. I'm so thankful to have you in my court and that you know I'm hear for you. The same time zone never hurts either. :-) Now we need to get you at least to the Pacific North West. Be well, K