Vicky Saumell - Avoiding teacher burnout

Following up on last month’s blog topic on motivating students, what do you do to stay motivated and avoid burnout as a teacher?

What simple steps or strategies would you recommend to help teachers stay motivated?

I have been teaching English for more than 25 years and although there have been a few times when I felt exhausted and demotivated, I have always found a way to get my energy and motivation back. So here are a few suggestions that have worked out for me, in no particular order.

Fight routine

I think one of our main enemies is routine, so finding new ways of doing things and varying the things we do in and out of the classroom can be a way of winning the battle. Teaching different levels or age groups each semester or year will also keep you alert. Changing the materials you use is also revitalising. You may not be able to change everything as it may be imposed upon you, but you can always change the supplementary activities you do. Propose changes or new projects to your superiors; they will hopefully be open to new suggestions and ideas!

Find joy in teaching

If you love what you do, it's easier to stay motivated. Whenever you can choose, go for topics, methods, strategies that you enjoy.

Connect with other teachers

Connecting is a way of sharing your burdens, and your successes, with somebody else. They might feel the same and share strategies to help you overcome the burdens and rejoice in the successes. Build a network of teachers with whom you can share your experiences. Social media has made this possible very easily!

Develop professionally

Choose an aspect of language teaching you enjoy and go further into it. Do a course. Read. Research. Find your niche!

Find something else you can do as a teacher

You may like writing; start a blog or try writing new materials. Start giving presentations locally. Join a teacher association and collaborate with the organisation. Do an action research project. Carry out a project with a twin class somewhere else.

Change your job

If you are not happy where you are working, try finding a different school or place to work as a teacher. Every school has a particular environment and culture that may not fit your style.

Use your free time wisely

Do things you really enjoy. Find the time to pursue a hobby or practise a sport or do an activity you've always wanted to do: cooking, pottery, even learning another language! Even if you love your job, you need to have a mental break from it.

Above all, remember you are not alone and you are not the only who feels this way. We have all felt it in different ways along our professional lives!

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