As I downloaded all the current podcasts in my feed over the past week, the overwhelming subject in the educational podcasts was about the very real threat of teacher burnout during this unprecedented time.
This isn’t just a typical year, when we feel stress. This is a year that has already been full of ups, downs, unknowns, fear, trauma, and we’re in November. Honestly, it’s probably not so dissimilar as we felt as first year teachers.
This connection to being a first year teacher reminded me of a chart that I remembered seeing in Elena Aguilar’s Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience. Her chart showed that first year teachers have a cycle where they start in August with feeling anticipation.
In September and October they feel like they’re in survival mode and then November and December first year teachers become bogged down by disillusionment. Only by March and April do they move to rejuvenation (we all know why…they’re seeing the light at the end of the school year calendar!).
So how disillusioned do you feel right now?
Does any of this sound familiar…
“After six to eight weeks of nonstop work and stress, new teachers enter the disillusionment phase…the extensive time commitment, the realization that things are probably not going as smoothly as they want, and low morale contribute to this period of disenchantment.”
Do you feel a little bit like a new[er] teacher this year?
Have you questioned if it’s really worth it to work this hard?
I know that I don’t know the specifics of your situation, but I can guess that it’s not much like anything you’ve ever experienced before (or probably asked to experience).
So if we’re a little disillusioned, what can we do to move forward in the best way possible for our school year?
Here are FIVE solution-focused ways to move out of disillusionment RIGHT NOW…
- Consistently remember that good enough is good enough.
Can you try to let go of doing it perfectly and just do your best and let it go?
- Lean on others instead of going at it alone.
Can you find a coworker, colleague, friend, a coach, a group, a community to hold you accountable to support you in ways that you need?
- Listen to what your body desperately needs.
Are you getting enough sleep? Are you moving your body? Are you eating nourishing food?
- Learn to say no.
Can you reframe saying NO to something as saying YES to other things that may be important to you too?
- Fake it until you make it.
If you’re still not buying all of this self-care stuff, can you just try for a few weeks and see what happens?
So as we move through this completely understandable stage of disillusionment, can we be gentle with ourselves and know that with each passing day we are moving through this school year, doing our best, and that needs to be enough (no matter what that little voice inside our head tries to tell us).
If we try to shift our disillusionment to a more optimistic lens we will move through these stages and arrive at rejuvenation.
Here’s to letting go of the way things were and focusing on that which we can control.
Here’s to teaching well,
P.S. And if you don’t know where to start, here’s a great little resource called Teacher Self-Care Triage. Use it yourself and pass it on for anyone who is in need of a little self-care guidance.