Saturday, November 6, 2010

For Teachers: Taking Care of Yourself

As a "master" teacher, I was asked to offer some ideas about how to take care of yourself so as to avoid "teacher burnout."

 It's a real problem because teaching is a very demanding line of work. It's actually an impossible job to do really well, so the name of the game is to figure out how to usefully do it as well as you can.

Here are the ideas I shared at that meeting: 


Meet Your Basic Needs:

Physical Needs:
Good Food, Adequate Sleep, Exercise, Recreation,

Social Needs:
Friends and family

Other Needs:
Spiritual life, creative pursuits

Bracket Your Work Life (Carpooling Helps)

Decide in advance how many hours you’re willing to put in beyond your contracted hours, and don’t exceed that amount. Don’t ever expect to be ready for work at the beginning of the day. Don’t ever expect to be finished when you leave. If you think you can, you're kidding yourself.

Shed Perfectionism

A wise first grader once informed me, “Only God is perfect.” 

Since we’re human beings we can be assured that we will bring our (many) imperfections to work with us. 

Learn to live with your imperfections. Figure out the help you need and find people to help you. Figure out what you ARE good at, and offer to help others. (In my case I love to make music and I cannot decorate a room. I get help with the latter and am always delighted when asked to help out with the former.)

Perfectionism can be a sneaky enemy that will sap your strength and endurance. Remember, you’re only one person—you can’t do it all. Get well acquainted with what’s “Good Enough” and live with it. You’ll get by.


Like the medical and legal professions, where people speak of “practicing medicine,” and “practicing law,” teaching cannot be mastered, only practiced. 

Approached as a practice, teaching becomes a lifelong adventure in getting better and better at what you do for a living and a life. Teaching is a journey, not an arrival.


jbidinger said...

Thank you for the gentle reminders to new and even experienced's easy to get hypnotized by the luring Siren call to deep and dangerous waters of perceived perfection or to think the magical red slippers is worth the cost of our soul. Young children (and their parents too!)need their teachers to model balanced lifestyles. To know we all make mistakes by which we are given opportunities to learn and grow, is another priceless gift. This gray haired teacher thanks you for the wisdom of our work being a 'practice' that cannot be mastered. It will help me in those times when I forget and think I am to be perfect in this field.

Blessings upon you, friend!

Dan Gurney said...

Thank you, Jane, and blessings to you as well.