How to Handle Teacher Fatigue

Janelle Cox
Janelle Cox
M.S. in Education

If you’re like most teachers, you have a lot on your plate, which means you may feel pretty exhausted. If you’ve been in the profession for a while, then you already know that teacher fatigue is a real thing that happens to a lot of educators. While your non-teacher friends cannot possibly understand the fatigue you may be feeling, this physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion is only short-term and the result of the demands of your job.

If you’re feeling fatigued by high workloads, large class sizes, challenging students, or administrative pressures, know you’re not alone and many of your colleagues are feeling the same way. This is not a sign of weakness or failure, it’s just a natural response to the stressors of your profession. Suppose you don’t prioritize your well-being and combat your fatigue when you first start feeling it. In that case, it may lead to teacher burnout, a more severe and chronic condition that can lead to significant negative consequences for both you and your students. By taking steps to address teacher fatigue you can maintain your well-being and continue to thrive in your role as a teacher.

Slow Down

Take your foot off the gas pedal and learn to push the brake once in a while; you’ll be a more effective teacher if you do so. Teacher fatigue hits hardworking teachers. The more that you do, the more tired you’ll become. Give yourself permission to slow down. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be a hardworking teacher and have to walk away from all of your responsibilities, it just means that you need to learn how to prioritize your tasks and take some time for yourself and your needs.

Create Boundaries

To be the best for yourself and your students you must create boundaries. Set clear boundaries between work and personal time to avoid feeling fatigued. This could involve limiting after-hours work, avoiding work-related emails and calls during personal time, or delegating tasks to other colleagues. When you set boundaries, you’re protecting your peace and finding the balance that you need to feel happy within yourself and at your job.

Make Fewer Decisions

It is said that teachers make as many as 1,500 decisions a day. If you were to calculate that correctly then that’s about a decision every four minutes or so. No wonder you are so exhausted. So how are you going to make fewer decisions? The first thing you’re going to do is to pass those decisions on to your students. Give up some control and allow your students to take over. If you must decide what homework to give, let the students help decide. If you have to decide what groups to place students in, let the students decide. A more student-centered approach to your teaching means fewer decisions that you must make, and fewer decisions mean more energy for you.

Utilize More Technology

Try using technology to streamline tasks. Technology can help simplify administrative tasks like grading or attendance-taking. It can also free up more time and energy for you to focus on more meaningful aspects of teaching like connecting to students’ past experiences and bringing the real world to your classroom.

Make a Plan

One of the most stressful times of the year is before and after the holidays. This is a time when teacher fatigue can really set in. The holidays are a busy time of year because not only do you have to get ready for them, but you also have to plan for the return after them. To make things easy on yourself, plan for both before and after the holidays. While this may seem like a lot of work, in the end, you’ll be less tired when you get back from your break if you have all of your plans already completed. The less work you have to do, the less tired you’ll be.

Prioritize Self-Care

Make sure to prioritize your own physical and emotional health. You can start by getting enough sleep. The standard recommendation is seven to eight hours per night. Eat healthy foods, a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can improve your overall health and well-being. Try to plan and prepare healthy meals in advance to ensure you have enough nutritious options during busy days. Lastly, engage in physical activity or relaxation techniques. Regular exercise is an effective way to reduce stress and improve physical and mental health while relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can help reduce overall stress.

Listen to Your Body

Teacher fatigue can lead to other health issues, such as getting run down and getting sick faster. Before you know it, you’re calling in sick because it all caught up to you. Take the time to rest when you’re tired. Go to bed earlier and try and sleep in on the weekends or take a nap. If you feel like you’re always irritable and tired, then maybe it’s time to get a checkup at the doctor’s office. Take a moment to listen to your body and hear what it’s saying. If something doesn’t feel right, then maybe it’s not.

You can fight teacher fatigue by slowing down, creating boundaries, giving up some control and making fewer decisions, using more technology to help with tasks, and making a plan. When you do all of these things as well as prioritizing yourself and listening to your body, you will feel better.

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