How to Minimize Teacher Burnout During the Pandemic

  (Updated February 8, 2022)
Kelly Nelson-Danley
Kelly Nelson-Danley
Elementary school principal; Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction
Frustrated young women pinching her furrowed brow while using a laptop.

How the Pandemic Impacted Teachers at First

Even in a “normal” year unaffected by a global pandemic, teacher burnout is real. One can only imagine how much teacher burnout has increased during the pandemic. Teachers have been asked to teach virtually, in-person, and even in a hybrid scenario and have often been given short notice to prepare for these changes.

Many teachers unfamiliar with the proper tools and practices for online teaching had to expand their virtual teaching capacity by seeking out professional development opportunities and leaning on their colleagues and school administrator for resources and ideas.

How the Pandemic Continues to Impact Teachers

More recently, most schools have returned to all in-person learning while students and staff are masked. While the return of in-person learning is welcomed, it comes with more challenges such as gaps in student learning and gaps in social-emotional development.

Considering this, many teachers are experiencing teacher burnout, and if they aren’t, they are likely wondering how they can avoid reaching the point of experiencing burnout.

Why is It Important to Address Teacher Burnout?

What’s so essential about protecting teachers’ mental state of mind and teacher wellness? Teachers are vital parts of our society; they provide students an education and with a familiar face and routine each day.

Many students, especially in lower socioeconomic environments, rely on schools’ consistency each day provides. If our teachers are overstressed, they cannot offer the best experiences for students. We need them to be as healthy, both mentally and physically, as possible. So, how can this be remedied or avoided? Here are some ideas to get teachers back on track.

Ways to Minimize Teacher Burnout

Create A Routine

Teachers can take back some of their sanity by creating a routine and sticking to it. Many teachers have to adjust back to more regular working hours. This means setting that alarm clock, reporting to work, completing duties in the building, leaving at a good time, and leaving work at work as much as possible.

For example, teachers may make a personal and professional rule that all parent messages sent after 5:00 p.m. will be answered the next day. This is a perfectly acceptable way to create boundaries between one’s personal and professional life.

Colleague Collaboration

When one teacher is feeling burnt out, others are likely feeling that way as well. When they can get together with others who are experiencing what they are, teachers realize they are not alone through that fellow teacher support. They may even take away some ideas for helping with burnout that other teachers are employing. Collaboration can be a powerful tool to increase motivation.

Morale Boosters

Staff morale boosters are great ways to get teachers excited about teaching again. They can spark a passion that may have somewhat died out. Activities such as Wellness Bingo or You’ve Been Mugged are just a few easy examples of morale boosters that can be implemented into the regular school day.

Volunteers

Most districts allow visitors to volunteer again if they follow school safety guidelines. Asking parents to volunteer creates relationships with families while giving teachers extra help in the classroom.

Give Yourself Grace

Teachers need to remember that they are only human, just like everyone else. Yes, gaps created by the pandemic must be addressed, but this will not be done overnight.

Try Something New

Trying a new strategy or activity in the classroom can help teachers and students develop a new, more positive mindset.

Create Balance

Some teachers are still teaching in hybrid situations. For those that are, it’s important to create balance.

Overall, educators need to reflect often and realize when they are burnt out! Try the strategies presented in this article if you or someone you know is struggling with staying motivated.

Check out this short list of additional ideas for avoiding or beating burnout. Most teachers will experience burnout at some point in their career, but the good news is changes can be made to help teachers avoid or push through burnout!

*Updated February 2022
graduate program favicon

Looking for a graduate program?