Question Detail

How do you cure teacher burn-out?

Jun 8, 2013 5:48pm

I know we're approaching vacation, but after my fourth year of inner city teaching I feel exhausted, insecure, and lonely in my profession. How can I find the inspiration I used to have?

  • English Language Arts
  • 9-12
  • Celebrating Teachers


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    • Jun 10, 2013 12:28am

      Ny year actually just started here in Korea. i remember when I used to have 9 classes a day and 4 on Saturday. let me ask you this: What would tell a student who tells you that they feel lost and lonely in the class? As an ELA teacher, whenever I am in trouble, I always ask, What would Atticus Finch do in this situation? What would Huck think about this? Atticus would probably tell you to stay focused, find ways to save time, give student more autonomy in the class to give you less work. Give students more responsibility to help you. You will end up helping yourself. Think about more engaging ways, more ways to have fun, and more ways to be interesting in the classroom. Then you will no longer take your trouble home with you. Try to come up with ways that maximize the things you do such as planning, grading, supervising, and teaching in general. That will give you at least some breathing room.

      • Jun 10, 2013 11:43pm

        Hi Emily,
        Over the summer, maybe you can take time to network with other teachers, brainstorm fun lesson plans and get some some and inspiring ideas for the next school year (this site is a good place to start!). And also this summer, make time for yourself. Sleep in, spend a few weeks without thinking about school or work, do something other activities that interest you. I always feel a little burned out out at the end of each year and come back refreshed after summer. Teaching is a tough job!

        • Jun 11, 2013 8:02am

          There is no easy answer best advice? Be the kind of teacher you would have wanted to have. Think about who your favorite teacher was when you were in school. What is it about that teacher that drew you in? Why was that teacher special? Think about what you were going through when you were in school it doesn't matter if your life was in some ways easier or harder than your students, we all have issues we deal with from time to time. I know that when I'm bored most likely so will my students. If I get upset, students sense it. In these moments take a step back, take a deep breath...I even tell my students I need a moment to find my "happy place". =) Usually, I take a couple of deep breaths, sometimes I say some funny phrases from time like I need a Fairly Oddparent...usually my students ask...what would you wish for...and so forth, I've even got a bag of Dove chocolates in my desk drawer for those "emergency" occasions for me not the kids.

          • Jun 11, 2013 8:03am

            My greatest lesson after 10 years of teaching is not to take myself so seriously. Reassess everyday. Reassess what is important and focus on the good! We are so busy focusing on the negative aspects of teaching we never focus on the good. Make the good more important. In each class write one positive thing about that class. I like Susie's outfit today...I like Joe's personality...I like the questions so an so asked...And remember you are one person and what you do makes a difference.

            • Jun 11, 2013 12:54pm


              I've had years like that. Teaching is draining, and so much more so when you're in urban settings. I always find that taking time for myself helps me to feel rejuvenated. I remember once I made a list of things that would make me feel better: getting a pedicure, watching Sex and the City (I know, horrible, huh?), buying a chai latte, and during the summer, I did every single one of them. Also, as everyone else said, connect with positive people. There are true rock stars in urban education who come back renewed year after year. Seek them out and connect with them.

              Have a restful summer!

              • Jun 23, 2013 10:30am

                Hi Emily! I agree with Michael. There must be other outlets. I don't go straight home. Many times I do 'therapy' by sweeping and picking up trash in my class. It brings joy to the custodians, too. I have a close co-worker and she I vent and share struggles and successes with each other regularly. Before we know it, we're feeling better and can concentrate better on the drive home. Also, have your favorite music handy as you drive home or when you arrive. You've also done a good thing by posting your question here. As you can see, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. lol. I also agree with Lauren, Yolanda, Katie, and Eric.

                • Jun 28, 2013 12:34pm

                  This is SUCH an important question as I believe so many teachers are feeling this increasingly. As budgets are cut, class sizes grow, and standards change our practice, we need to work "smarter not harder"--mostly because most of us feel that we CAN'T work harder than we already do.

                  The best place to counteract teacher burnout for me was to connect with other great, passionate educators who inspire me, give me ideas to re-energize my classroom, and make my voice feel valued. A site that has been invaluable to me is The Center for Teaching Quality's Collaboratory. Here you can post questions, comments, frustrations, victories around each of their content labs and receive feedback from experienced and passionate teachers from around the country! If I hadn't connected with this group of amazing educators, I doubt I would be entering my 7th year of teaching!


                  • Jul 2, 2013 2:56pm

                    My best advice is to reflect, either alone (probably in writing) or with a trusted friend, on what has caused the most stress in your teaching life. Then, find the strategies you need to make necessary changes. Strategies might be organizational, time management, or stress management; changes might include changing districts, grade level, or just how you handle difficult relationships. Change is a gradual process; you didn't burn out overnight, and you aren't going to fix it overnight. Set small goals and work on them daily.

                    • Sep 6, 2014 10:35pm

                      Hi Emily. I am in a similar situation at a low SES school, entering my 5th year. I switched grade levels to increase my learning, but that also increased my stress dramatically. In addition, I completed my Masters degree during this time and am now trying to sell my house. While the home sale isn't a choice, combining these challenges was not one of my best ideas. I am in my 2nd year in this grade level and looking for ways to avoid burnout. I often feel inadequate, unorganized, and unable to meet the expectations of this grade level. That said, I have to remind myself of the fact that with time and hard work, I can be successful.
                      There are so many great tips in this thread. In addition to those mentioned here, I am also trying to invest more time in planning and organization. This a sanity-saver for the coming week(s). I try to do this after school which leads to my next strategy. I try to leave work at work. As teachers, we often bring work home with us. I have chosen to stay later after school so that when I am home, I am home. There are still occasions when I have to bring work home with me, but much less often than I used to.
                      Lastly, I've learned I am able to persevere if I take care of myself. This includes exercise, getting enough sleep, spending time with family/friends, pursuing interests, and stress-reduction activities such as prayer, yoga or listening to music.
                      I look forward to hearing how your school year went and hope the 8th year was even better. :)