Overcoming burnout

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I remember very clearly a conversation that I had with my school’s former Headmaster. He asked me, “What do you think would surprise most people about teaching?” Without blinking an eye, I responded, “The level of energy it requires.”

When that conversation occurred several years ago, I was at the height of my game. My classes were fun, exciting, innovative. I spent a considerable amount of time revamping every lesson. I tweaked everything. I added meaningful uses of new technology as they became available. I attended training classes to learn new skills. I led training classes for other teachers to hone their skills. I led clubs and activities. I gave presentations. I organized field trips. I graded papers quickly, efficiently, yet with thoughtful feedback included on every page. I did it all with a smile. I was on fire.

I also went home everyday exhausted. Sometimes, I came home and continued to work. Lessons were always in need of tweaking. Papers were always needing to be graded. Often, that meant late nights for me. Despite the exhaustion, I loved my job. I woke up ready to face every new school day. I felt like I was living up to my calling. I was giving my all to my students.

Unfortunately, this kind of energy is not sustainable. I had little to give my family in the evenings. I also began to resent the amount of time it took to tweak and grade. Over time, my health began to suffer. However, it wasn’t until this last school year when I experienced some very significant medical issues that I realized I was burned out.

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