First Lady Michelle Obama said, “There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.” She is absolutely right. This also rings true to you as an educator. There is no limit to what we as educators can accomplish, including burnout.
Burnout has become the familiar best friend of almost every educator in the profession. It is the leading cause of health problems. It contributes to high blood pressure and hormonal imbalances, headaches and chest pain, even mental illness. I’m always amazed that my blood pressure readings are always perfect and envied by the nurse that documents the reading when I go to my well check-ups. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not expecting it to ever be high but always wonder the toll that teaching is taking on my life.
I feel like I might as well be a high stake attorney defending the most notorious and all the evidence is saying guilty but if I want what’s best for me I better pull every trick in the book to get him off. Okay, maybe that is too much of an exaggeration but if you are at a very challenging school like I, you know the feeling all too well of having students in your grade level that lack foundational skills to do the work. In a class that has at least twenty students, at least one-fourth of them don’t have a chance and the odds are stacked against them.
Teaching takes a lot out of us; especially teachers that are in the early years and those that have transferred into new schools. We have to get familiar with the curriculum. Learn how to build relationships with our students. Tailor our lessons according to the ability of the students. Assess and reteach. Differentiate the ways in which we are providing instruction. Document. Check a million emails that come at the most inopportune times of the day AND night. Watch what we say. Be careful of our actions. Tiptoe around our moody colleagues. Carry the burdens and concerns of our students and report them as needed, after all, we are mandated reporters. Oh and don’t forget, KEEP YOUR PARENTS HAPPY because in the world of service, customers are always right!
It is stressful trying to build relationships with tough students who have a wall built up. It’s a mental game trying to learn the ins and outs, the do’s and don’ts of what gets them inspired to learn and work. Now pair that with numerous meetings that are unproductive if you don’t have the right people on your team. Oh and don’t forget you have to go home to your family. You have a spouse and kids that will demand your attention as well. Although your spouse will be understanding, your babies don’t care that you have had a stressful day. All they know is I see mommy and I want to spend time with her. Hold me. Play with me. Read and talk to me.
With all of these demands that have been stacked upon us, yes, it is true what First Lady Obama has delivered in speech. “There is no limit to what, you as an educator, mom, dad, wife, husband, sister, brother, and whatever else your responsibility may be, can accomplish.” However, you won’t get far in your accomplishments if you do not remember to take out time for yourself. It’s not enough to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. At some point you have to hand your weight over to someone or be consumed by it.
Words from the wise
The best advice my husband could have given me as I was entering into this new career field was this, “Bae, make sure you pace yourself. What you don’t want to happen is for you to get in there (trying to impress people or prove something) and start doing all of this extra stuff only to find yourself burnt out.” Ha. What was he talking about? Burnout?
Teaching is demanding and overwhelming. If you are reading this and you aren’t a teacher I’m more than certain that whatever your job is, it is requiring serious demands from you as well. Let me be honest. Before I became a teacher, I thought the fact that teachers received every holiday and summer vacations off was so glamorous. Oh wake up SPECTATORS! Every individual that is a part of the system of education that has direct contact with a student that they constantly see and pour into deserves more than summers and holidays!
We are more than teachers. We are life coaches and mentors. Our mission is to affirm our students, build them up. Set them on a path that directs them to success. We are givers and believe in providing the best service even when it is not well received.
In all that we are we must remember that after we’ve poured out we need to be poured into. After all, you can’t get water from an empty well. Although the following lines have been attributed to The Holy Bible (probably due to the first part of Ecclesiastes 9:11), Aesop’s fable “The Tortoise and the Hare” reminds us that “The race is not given to the swift but to the one that endures to the end.” Quite a moral to apply to one’s story. It’s easy to start out fast but what happens when the momentum begins to dwindle? Steady is better. Steady strides to reach the overall goal. Learning to delegate and plan will help assist in your transitioning of taking on your responsibilities; even Batman had Robin.
Reflections and actions
There will never be more than twenty-four hours in the day and if there were you probably still wouldn’t consume an ounce of it on yourself. With that in mind, it’s time. Time for what you ask? You to be still. To take a moment to replenish yourself. Summers are great and they are the highlight of the benefits of teaching. But in a world where we have physically exhausted ourselves for at least 200 days out of the year, we must find time before THE BREAK to take a break.
Pamper yourself. Light some candles, turn on your garden music and take a plunge into meditation. When was the last time you’ve done such and really enjoyed it and not thought about school, work, or the cares of life? Take a break from your own kids and just enjoy reading a book that is tailored for your betterment. Buy the outfit and take yourself out. Go out with your spouse or significant other. Look in the mirror and smile. Smile until you cry or cry until you smile but enjoy you and the emotions that belong to you. Not the ones that were cast on you by someone else.
Some of us turn to yoga for relaxation and meditation. Others of us turn to prayer and worship. A simple moment of thanksgiving has the power to shift your mental state. Meditation allows us the opportunity to hear the still small voice that so eagerly awaits to commune with us and provide internal guidance and direction. We go for an early morning or evening run or walk. We read. We journal. Whatever your thing is do it. Your sanity depends on it. Your health depends on it. The longevity of your life depends on it. Your commitment to your commitments depend on it.
When was the last time you inhaled and realized you had done so and enjoyed the release? When was the last time you looked in the mirror and really took out the time to see you and wink? When was the last time you looked at the sky and caught a glimpse of what is beyond that which the natural eye can see? When was the last time you allowed the gentle breeze of summer to encompass itself around your very being? Something to think about huh?
You should take out the time to enjoy the simple things in life. Actually take out the time to enjoy your cup of coffee without drinking it for the purpose of being woke. Schedule a massage; deep tissue, Swedish, or hot stone treatment. They all work wonders, I’m an advocate for such. Take a serious bubble bath and enjoy the aroma of your bubble concoction while listening to a string of melodies.
What is that you say? These are all good suggestions but when do I have time?
How about now?
Same time? Next post right?