This post is aimed at teachers (early childhood and beyond) who are not inspired, not energised, not engaged, not having fun and for who, coming to work has become hard work (it was not always this way!). These are my personal tips which I return to again and again when I feel my creativity waining and it becomes near impossible to get out of bed in the morning. Enjoy and let me know if any of these tips ring true for you too.
In no particular order…
1. Pick a project for you. Can you remember, not so long ago, when you were inspired and you were going to start that awesome mosaic project or replant the garden or do a crazy water feature, well do it! Now! Getting engrossed in something you have wanted to achieve for a while but have put on the back burner will rekindle your enthusiasm and kick start you back into the work you love.
2. Jump up and down ten times. Or more if you feel it! There is something about having your whole self suspended in the air which means you can not be board or tired or grumpy. Handstands work equally well and if you are not shy about it I am sure you will have a new physical activity interest amongst the children too.
3. Pretend / Fake it. Smiling and acting energised when you do not feel it can be hard work, but it does not seem to take long before your insides match your outsides. I suppose the point is not to languish in a mood but to choose a new one. You will be amazed at your own ability to choose happy. P.S There is a very cool concept called “technology of the self” where by you can hum a happy song to yourself and directly impact your mood. Crazy cool!
4. Play and Share. The children are awesome and they are keeping on doing their thing all the while you are feeling a bit blah. Take some time to get involved in the play, stay in the moment with the children and you will see all the wonderful exciting stuff they have been doing all along! Next step, share what you have seen and experienced with someone, maybe a parent or co-teacher? Parents are always interested in hearing about the exciting stuff their kinds have been up to doing the day and just talking about it with a receptive audience with give you a real energy boost.
5. Look after yourself. Make sure your lull in energy is not attached to something else, like lack of sleep, poor diet, no exercise, stressful home life. Some of these other factors you can address, others are more complicated (such is life). While exercise can be hard to start, it always feels better once you are done. You deserve to feel better, so get exercising! (Like John Kerwin, Auckland Blues coach,depression spokesman, and all round good guy).
6. Acknowledge your feelings and your human-ness. Sometimes just admitting to yourself that you are uninspired can empower you to do something about it. No use living in denial. Also be kind to yourself, you are human and not ment to be perfect.
7. Take a day. A day of rest, to recharge your batteries. Could be just the ticket.
8. Feed your hobbies. You are not only a teacher, you are many other things as well. Maybe you love to read? or paint? or kitesurf? You are a better teacher, more well rounded, when you feed your hobbies too. Maybe you could bring your hobbies to the children too, share your passion and inspire a new generation!
9. Look outside for inspiration. Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr or the more traditional book or conversation, you could even go on a few other classrooms to see what other teachers are up to. Don’t limit yourself to education either, architecture, graphic design and even poetry all contain something to inspire and rejuvenate even the most worn-out soul.
10. Remember why your here, think back on your teaching journey. Can you remember your first day as a teacher? How about some other landmarks throughout your career? How good did it feel when you managed to build a special relationship with a challenging child? or Parent? Have a look back through your documentation, learning stories, daily diaries, investigation books, look at all the cool work you have done with children! What about those special thank you cards from grateful parents. Read the words and remember you make a difference in children’s lives. You make a difference for families. Don’t forget.
So… those are my top ten tips! I would love to hear how you combat teacher burnout and fatigue. Maybe you have something important to say that someone else really needs to hear right now! Share in the comments section below.