October Tips for Exhausted Teachers

exhausted teachers

October has arrived, and the initial hustle and bustle that accompanies the start of a new school year is giving way to the frenzy of grade updates, IEP meetings, communication, and students who are getting very comfortable with their new environment. Without a doubt, mid-fall for teachers is a crescendoing grind towards the final push of the holiday madness. 

Unfortunately, this time of the year is notorious for leaving many educators feeling as though they’re in a slump. Exhausted teachers begin wondering how they’re going to manage it all, and they’re looking for ways to keep students interested and motivated in the classroom. It’s completely normal and experienced by many, but that doesn’t change the fact that teachers may be down. It’s not good for them, and it’s not good for their students. 

And while October is a banner month for stress, both teachers and principals report frequent episodes at more than twice the rate of the general adult workforce. That means creating self-care opportunities during October is a must, and fortunately, there are lots of ways to make sure Halloween only happens once for all the exhausted teachers out there!

Why am I so Exhausted as a Teacher?

Teaching is hard. Really hard. Early mornings, long days, limited resources, and a laundry list of things to do well beyond your normal work hours can leave you feeling like you’re running on empty 180+ days out of the year. 

While this is common, it’s also not sustainable. It’s important to be aware of a few things that may be making life harder than it needs to be and get out ahead of them before they drag you down. 

Decision Fatigue 

Have you ever gone home at the end of the day, completely starving, but the last thing you can think about is what to make for dinner? You’re willing to do almost anything anyone wants—as long as you don’t have to decide. 

This is a real phenomenon, and it’s called decision fatigue. Teachers make decisions all day long—for themselves, for their students, and for parents—and the constant stress of evaluating and moving on can burn you out faster than a jack-o’-lantern. It can result in a reduced ability to see the positive and negative sides of a decision, decision avoidance, and a loss of willpower that can actually result in much poorer decision making overall. 

Although deciding how to make fewer decisions may seem like a paradox, there are nonetheless many good ways for exhausted teachers to give themselves a break. Your weekends are always a time to recharge, so limiting work and planning activities to decompress can give you just the lift you need. Time management and making the most of your planning periods can go a long way too, and when in doubt, don’t forget that you can always take a personal day. That’s what they’re there for! Keeping it simple, prioritizing, delegating, and setting some rules for yourself are all excellent ways to limit this chronic stress

Details, Details, Details…

The daily routine of a teacher is a balancing act unlike many others, where the intersection of student’s needs, administrative responsibilities, and school events have the potential to become overwhelming.

In spite of all these details, the show must go on. Maintaining a meaningful learning environment while mastering the ability to pivot from one task to another is key. Scheduling software and apps like Remind can take care of a lot of the thinking for you, and compartmentalizing your tasks (no multitasking!) helps you make the most out of your limited time. 

Compassion Fatigue

Teachers are in uniquely empathetic roles that are also constantly evolving to maintain pace with the students they teach. Caring is human, but it can also be stressful—compassion fatigue is increasingly becoming a challenge all teachers must face. 

Compassion fatigue is the direct result of exposure to the traumas experienced by others. As teachers manage students living through things like abuse, neglect, or the loss of a loved one, they are exposed to both personal and logistical strain. This can put teachers at risk for depression and anxiety while they focus on the needs of students at their own expense.

In many cases, compassion fatigue comes with a loss of perspective. If you’re constantly sitting up at night worrying about a student’s situation, give yourself some space to consider the following:

1. What is my role?

  1. Where do my responsibilities end?
  2. What can I change, and what can I not? 
  3. How can I best help this student within a school setting?

Classroom Management

Classroom management is not just about laying down the law and being ready to hand out discipline when needed. It’s about structure and establishing a culture of respect and harmony. 

A great classroom management plan benefits from being developed and implemented right from the start of the school year so that expectations are clear. However, as students get more comfortable—like in October when routines are well established—some may be tempted to break away from classroom guidelines and start testing your boundaries. Maintaining a fluid approach to adjustments and modification for a classroom management plan is key. 

Here are some strategies for updating your plan, along with some expert tips to give your teaching game a lift.

4 Ways to Beat October Exhaustion 

You have every reason to feel utterly wiped out, and you’re doing great work for all your students and families. They love you, they are thankful for the effort you’re putting in, and you deserve a moment to focus on yourself! Here are some strategies for exhausted teachers to beat the fall blues and strike a better balance going into the holiday season. 

1. Revisit your classroom management plan

Even though the classroom management plan was solid to start the year, it’s never a bad time to reassess. What’s working well, and what isn’t? The little hitches can turn into big stressors quickly, and often a single tweak is all it takes to eliminate a lot of little hassles. 

And if you’re short on strategies, a little professional development might be in order to get some fresh ideas. Premiere is dedicated to making your job easier with professionally-created content that addresses a host of ongoing and developing issues that educators face. It’s a complex job, and it’s never a bad time to brush up. 

2. Talk with your colleagues

The teachers around you—especially the veterans—have probably been through this many times before, and they are the perfect sounding board for your experiences. They probably have a lot of ideas, including quite a few you hadn’t thought of! Relying on their experience and creatively weaving it into your skill set may give you the edge you need to get over the hump, and it will bring your entire team closer together. In fact, stepping away during a prep block for 20 minutes to observe a colleague can be a great way to get a little break while gathering fresh ideas. 

3. Health and Exercise

Many working adults have trouble adding exercise into their daily routine, and teachers are certainly no exception. It doesn’t have to be a trip to the gym on your lunch break; there are plenty of opportunities all around you. Establishing manageable routines as simple as walking on your lunch break or taking the stairs instead of the elevator can be just the thing you need to clear your head and find a moment of “me” time. 

4. Set boundaries  

Setting boundaries for your students is a given, but there are actually a lot of areas in teaching for which simple personal policies can be a lifesaver. For instance, there are rarely any emergencies in education, and while a teacher’s job is never done, every day needs to have an end. If you’ve been up since 5 a.m., it’s perfectly reasonable to close the gradebook at 4 p.m. and enjoy your evening—especially if it’s Friday. 

You Don’t Have to Become an Exhausted Teacher

It’s been a fantastic start to the year, but now’s the time for exhausted teachers to sit back, take a deep breath of the fall air, and get some control over their tired minds and bodies.  

The professional development content created by Premiere is designed by former teachers and administrators who know exactly what you’re going through—and how to get back on track. Courses like Teacher Burnout and Chronic Stress by Kim Strebler, BS, MSEd, Intervention Specialist, DeWitt Elementary School, and Classroom management II—Quick Everyday Tricks to Create a Positive and Safe Classroom Environment by Tiffany Whitcomb, M.Ed., Educational Strategist, Collaborative Teaching Solutions, LLC all provide the thoughtful insight and guidance education professionals need to help themselves and their colleagues as the leaves start to drop. 

All coursework created by Premiere is developed by leading experts in their fields, and puts honing your skills and advancing your career at your fingertips with the click of a button. 

 

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