Saturday, August 31, 2013

Preventing Teacher Burnout #BurnoutCure Blog Tour

I am so excited to be participating in the #BurnoutCure Blog Tour today! I have known Julie de Azevedo-Hanks for many years now, and I'm pretty sure it's because of her inspirational music that I was able to endure the ups and downs of junior high and high school. Julie is something of a local "celebrity" here in Utah and I'm honored to call her a friend. In addition to being a talented singer and songwriter, Julie works as an LCSW and is the owner of Wasatch Family Therapy.... And in all her "spare" time, she's recently written a book entitled "The Burnout Cure: An Emotional Survival Guide For Overwhelmed Women". I don't know about the rest of you, but after surviving the first 8 days of school, I am definitely feeling overwhelmed! I had the great fortune of hearing Julie speak on this exact topic a few years ago, when I first began teaching, and was thrilled when I heard she was going to put the presentation into a book.  The theme of her presentation resonated with me, and is what ultimately inspired my blog title of "Good Enough Teacher"... Because I will NEVER be the Pinterest-perfect teacher, which is really okay with me.  If anyone is feeling burnout these days, it's definitely teachers.

I've talked before about why I'm okay with just being "good enough", and this book confirmed to me that I'm making the right choice for ME and my emotional needs.

Last year, I was definitely burned out. In addition to teaching 2nd grade, I was teaching an evening professional development class for 60 teachers, mentoring 4 level-one teachers in my building, supervising a student-teacher, I was the gifted facilitator for my  school, the grade level chair, and, JUST FOR FUN, I decided to start my math endorsement (and for the record, I'm NOT working on it this semester).... and I'm sure the list goes on. Most nights I was at school until 8 or 9 pm. (Not even kidding, folks!!) In the midst of all this, my parents moved rather suddenly (which also meant packing up our family home of more than 30 years!!), my mom was unexpectedly hospitalized, and I was EXHAUSTED every minute of every day. It was all I could do to roll out of bed and throw my hair in a ponytail, and try to put on a happy face and face the kiddos with a smile every day. I thought back to the tips Julie shared when I heard her speak, and tip #2 stood out to me.  (Here are all 6 tips that are included in the book:)
1. Feel and express a full range of emotions.
2. Give yourself permission to say an inspired “no.”
3. Do your emotional family history.
4. Take responsibility for your own happiness.
5. Practice being kind to yourself.
6. Learn to ask for and accept help.

Now, these are all great tips, but I'm going to focus on #2 - saying an inspired no.  In the book, Julie shares an experience where she was on a flight with her young son, and she hears the directions from the flight attendant regarding what to do with the oxygen mask in case of an emergency:

"The flight attendant started talking about what to do if there were a change in cabin pressure. She said, “The oxygen masks will drop from the ceiling and oxygen will begin to flow. Place your mask on first and then assist others, such as small children or the elderly.”
"Did she really just say that—put your own mask on first? Was this new information I had somehow missed dozens of times before? As I sat in the plane holding my precious little baby, I realized that my instinct as a woman, as a parent, would be to make sure that my little son and everyone else in my row got an oxygen mask first. But this time I clearly heard the flight attendant’s message: Put on your own mask first and then assist others! I realized what she was really saying: If I don’t put my oxygen mask on first, I’ll pass out—and what good am I going to be to my six-month-old if I’m passed out on the floor?"

This was a profound moment for me.  We, as teachers, MUST take care of ourselves if we want to be able to take care of our students. As much as I *want* to help every teacher at school or please every supervisor/principal/and department, I need to compete MY to-do list first. Once that's complete, then I can choose to help others when and if I have the time. I must put my classroom and my lessons first, and not worry about preparing materials for other teachers.

After 3 years of teaching professional development, I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders when I said an "inspired no" to the job offer earlier this year. Nobody at my school thought I could say no, but I did it, and it felt SO good! Does it mean that I might miss out on other opportunities in the future? Possibly.... But I've decided that my job is not my entire life. I want to have a life outside of my classroom (although I've had so much fun redecorating lately, that I'm really enjoying it! Lol!) Now that I've mastered tip #2, I'm hoping to look forward to a great future with the help of tip #4 -- take responsibility for your own happiness. After the first 3 days of school (we started on a Wednesday this year), my to-do list was probably 3 pages long. I was not about to spend my Friday night at school stressing over everything. I made sure everything was ready for Monday, called a friend, and ordered a pizza! My friend and I have a great system -- I order the pizza online, and she picks it up on the way to my house. I stopped and grabbed some yummy shakes (which I'm sure I earned after surviving the first 3 days of school, right??) and we hung out eating pizza and ice cream while watching "Gilmore Girls" on DVD. Exciting Friday night? You be the judge ;) for me, it was just what I needed! I've learned to plan ahead and make time to do things with my friends. I set limits and try to leave school at a reasonable hour each day. I'm looking forward to working through all 6 tips this year.... A new school year is a great time to set new goals! I don't do well with new year's resolutions, and instead do "school-year resolutions". And my resolution this year is to take care of myself and prevent myself from getting burned out.

Well, if you are feeling burned out like I was, I would highly recommend checking out Julie's book, which is available now. And if you're still reading this, I've placed my TPT store on sale for Labor Day weekend. Happy shopping, teachers :)

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