Beyond the Edge

I admit it. I feel as if I am struggling to keep up. After 4 weeks of the start of the school year, I am only now beginning to feel as if I can surface for air. My desk is still a mess, there are laptops that need to be assigned, iPads that need formatting and lots of emails and phone calls to return.

I’m sure I’m not alone in this feeling. Every teacher in a traditional model school feels like this as the new year starts. There are new names of staff and students. There are new challenges with curriculum changes, policy changes, room changes. What worked last year either doesn’t work with this year’s group of students or staff, or it just needs to be freshened up to engage the learner.

So, why is it like this every year? Why does it seem particularly more difficult THIS year?

Age is one reason. The older I get, the less energy I feel I have for change. Demands of those above me affect it too. The new software, new hardware, new curriculum, new initiatives, new email, new… just fill in the blank. Change gets harder every year. So why do I feel the need to change what I’m doing or how I’m doing it? Because I am beginning to realize that no matter how much I do, there will always be more to do.

There. I said it. I’m not keeping up. I have been on the cutting edge of things for the last few years. But now I believe I may have gone beyond the edge. Past that point of wanting to know the latest and greatest. Mostly because the technology changes so fast. Probably because I’m realizing that I want to enjoy things outside of work.

So what do I do?

I reinvent myself again. We all need to do that. We need to realize that what might have been important last year is not quite as important this year. Or that what was important then, but was not addressed, has become most important now. Heavy stuff.

I am not going to do less at my job. I’m just not going to take it home quite so much. I’m going to find those things that I used to do that brought me joy while still doing my job well. I’m going to try to multitask less and focus on what matters more. Simple to say, but not so easy to do.

If you’re struggling as I am, take heart that you’re not alone. There is no one final solution for anyone. We are ever evolving and ever reinventing ourselves. Thankfully.

Let me know how you plan to reinvent yourself this year. And most certainly let me know if you have ideas for how I can reinvent myself to be more productive and stay on the right side of the edge!

Advertisements

Is it Teacher Burnout?

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
“superwoman” by hans van den berg is licensed under CC BY 2.0

While I like to think that I am superhuman and can go on little sleep, work multiple jobs and manage to tend adequately to my family, that just isn’t so. I TRY to make that so. But in reality, I find myself frazzled and stressed. Yes, I believe it might be Teacher Burnout.

It’s easy to write this during my summer break, even though my calendar reminds me to “Do a Blog Post” every Monday year round. (Thanks, George Couros @gcouros for the challenge!) Writing during the school year when my double full-time job, multiple piano students, and online teaching are in full swing and the reality is definitely different.

Dr. Jenny Rankin’s First Aid for Teacher Burnout: How You Can Find Peace and Success. Taylor & Francis, 2016, provides strategies for dealing with burnout. In her book, Dr. Rankin provides some Teacher Burnout Statistics.

Teacher Burnout Statistics

The statistics listed are not current, but I can’t help but imagine that with the increased demands on teachers and administrators, that those numbers might actually be higher than Dr. Grant has communicated.

Attitude is a huge part of our burnout rate. It is a huge part of our overall health. A perfect example is my 89-year-old father. He has an incredible attitude. He rarely complains about anything, he is helpful and easy to get along with. He does things for others with a smile. But if you read his medical history and what he has “wrong” with him, you’d think he should be shouting at little children in the street and shaking his cane at every passerby! Not only does he treat everyone with respect, but he doesn’t even need a cane to go on his 3 or 4 mile walk every day!

So, how can we strive to keep ourselves sane in the ever burdened education world we live in? I believe starting with a simple, positive goal each day is helpful. The following are a few of my strategies:

  • Take a moment to reflect on why we do what we do, realizing that it’s not about the money or the fame but about lives of humans that we want to nurture and grow into productive citizens. (This includes the teachers you work with, too!)
  • Avoid the “toxic” people in your life. Find a way to remain friends, but avoid those gripe sessions that can be so prevalent especially towards the end of the year.
  • Practice your smile. Greeting people with a smile and a warm “Hello!” sets the tone for the following conversation and might even help someone change their day.

Finding time to indulge yourself, even if for a few moments at work, with something that brightens your day or lets you breathe is imperative. For me, going to bed earlier and using my lunch as a private reflection time help me. Oh, and not taking complaints and criticism personally. It’s easy to fall into that trap!

Breathe deeply. Do things purposefully. Encourage those around you to do the same things. You might be surprised at the results.

Think you might be suffering from burnout? Try taking this self-test: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTCS_08.htm