When was the last time you asked yourself what sparks joy in your classroom? No matter what time of year it is and no matter how you slice it, being a teacher can be a tough job. Never-ending to-do lists add to the stress, and it can be easy for any teacher to feel burned out. It’s important to keep in mind teacher motivation ideas in order to take care of yourself when you feel like you’re at the end of your rope.
To be able to give our best selves to our students, it’s important to find little things that spark joy throughout the year. Here are 5 quick tips for finding what brings you happiness and helps curb burnout this year:
Find your teacher friends, not just complaining buddies
Have you ever heard the expression, “Stay out of the teacher’s lounge”? Some veteran teachers share this advice because the teacher’s lounge, or similar spaces, can be a breeding ground for complaints and frustration. Instead of joining the Negative Nancy’s, find a teaching buddy that you can share your stress with, either inside of your building or outside.
Finding someone that you can trust to share your concerns, stresses, and celebrations can be a game changer in a busy school year. The ideal partner would be someone that will listen to your stress while helping you dig out of a negative space. They may even have teacher motivation ideas of their own to share!
It’s easy to find someone to complain with, but finding that person or people that will help you turn stress into positivity will be more beneficial for you and your students.
Try something new
Part of feeling burned out can come from feeling stuck in a rut with your instruction, curriculum, or class routines.
Talk with your partner, grade level, or content team to get some new ideas for something that has you feeling stuck. Trying something new can feel scary, but it could be just the jolt you need to re-energize yourself for the rest of the year.
Preserve your energy
If there’s one thing that’s universally true about teaching, it’s that the job never ends. There will always be things on the to-do list, and it can feel stressful to keep up.
Instead of swimming in the stress, set boundaries for how you will preserve your energy. Set a time that you’re going to leave the building each day, and stick to it. If that doesn’t feel do-able quite yet, set a time to leave just a few days a week. On those days, don’t bring any work home with you either.
As they say, you can’t pour from an empty cup. You’ll never be “done” as a teacher, but by preserving your energy, you’ll be the best teacher you can be for your students.
Rediscover what inspires you
Whether it’s a favorite “teacher movie”, a Pinterest board, or a book on pedagogy, take a look back at something that brought you to teaching in the first place. Ask your teacher friends for recommendations if you’re looking for a change.
By connecting back to why you joined this work, you’ll feel more rejuvenated and motivated to overcome the burnout.
Look back to move forward
When you’re in the weeds of a busy teaching week, it can be difficult to feel like you’re making progress. In those moments, take some time to intentionally reflect on how far you’ve come since you started teaching. Take a peek at some old data, look through old lesson plans, or find a video of yourself teaching if you have one.
Looking back at where you’ve been, and how much growth you’ve made, can be the energizing force you need to get past those negative feelings.
Keeping in mind these teacher motivation ideas can help you prevent burnout throughout the year. Life is stressful – especially as a teacher – and you have to be kind to yourself in order to keep up. Taking a little time every week for self-care and to increase your motivation will leave you refreshed and rejuvenated, ready to take on the tasks ahead.
Julianna Morelock is a Schools Manager in Atlanta, Georgia. Prior to joining the EVERFI team, Julianna taught kindergarten, first grade, and third grade in the Atlanta area.