How to Refresh and Keep Going

In response to my “Causes of Burnout” post, an ace PressingPause reader wrote that the question is how to refresh and keep going.

Nine suggestions:

1) Resist deficit thinking by being intentional about students’ strengths. When I taught high school, I always made a conscious effort to attend student art exhibits, plays, sporting events. And I always left thinking, “What talent, dedication, effort, and academic potential if I tap into those things.”

2) Save notes of appreciation, thank you cards, whatever positive mementos you can. And journal about especially positive interactions and experiences. Sporadically revisit the notes, cards, and journal entries as a reminder of your effectiveness and the importance of your work.

3) Subvert zero-sum thinking about teaching excellence (e.g., your success takes away from mine) by consciously affirming your colleague’s efforts and acknowledging what they do particularly well. Help create positive faculty culture momentum.

4) If a colleague has traveled too far down the deficit thinking road, steer clear. If surrounded by goners, attend local teacher workshops and seminars in order to find and build relationships with more hopeful, supportive colleagues from other schools. Also join professional association’s list serves and blog discussions like this one.

5) Do whatever helps you create energy on a regular basis—spend time outdoors, walk, row, run, cycle, swim, practice yoga, pray or meditate, volunteer, cook healthy meals and prioritize family dinners, read something non-work related, pursue a non-work-related hobby.

6) Be vulnerable with whomever you’re closest to, share your successes/failures and hopes/dreams. Lean on them and let them support you.

7) Be intentional about scheduling events to look forward to, whether a Friday after school get together with with a few colleagues, a Saturday night dinner with a significant other, or a monthly weekend hike.

8) Unplug earlier in the evening, make like the Japanese and take a hot bath, and sleep as many hours as you know you need to be completely rested.

9) Create positive teacher-student professional momentum by continually improving your plans, your methods, and your assessment of student work.

Suggestions for number 10?

3 thoughts on “How to Refresh and Keep Going

  1. The invitation for number 10 is thought provoking. Sometimes you can get a lot of energy from the kids. When I am feeling out of sorts, I like to walk the halls before school or hang out in the cafeteria with the kids instead of with the teachers. The other thing is to think about how cool the subject that you are teaching actually is. I part of an increasingly rare species who teaches German. What a beautiful language and dynamic culture! And I get to play with it every day!

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