September 1, 2011

Avoiding Burnout as an Itinerant Teacher of the D/HH

Photo from Flickr jenny.morros
My job as an itinerant teacher of deaf and hard of hearing students is full of frustrations and stress. This first month back at school has been the most stressful. I have been extremely tired and sensitive to any type of stress. A few days ago, I cried over spilling some coffee on a table at some school while I did not seem to care that I forgot to use a cover sheet when faxing a form. I thought to myself, "I can't be already experiencing burnout. It is only my third year!"

I reached out to teachers I respect and get along with about this problem. Many of them gave me great tips and ideas on how to avoid burnout. The best ones are listed below:
  • "When I start to feel that way, I try to do something fun with the students. It usually involves something I am passionate about teaching. I do not worry too much about making sure it fits with the standards and curriculum. I worry only about having a good time with my students and that is what it should be all about."
  • "I never bring work home during the weekends. The weekends are supposed to be about spending time with my friends and family and taking care of myself. I do all of my planning and paperwork on Fridays."
  • "I try to take care of myself. I work out everyday. Man, it feels good to work out all of my frustrations!" 
  • "Do not beat yourself up over mistakes or not completing everything on time. We are not super heroes! It is impossible to finish all the work we are expected to do in a day." 
  • "Just focus on the students. You may not realize it, but you are making a big difference in at least one person's life everyday."
  • "I like to get away during the weekends as much as I can. Taking short road trips and discovering new places is the best way to de-stress." 

I really appreciated hearing from some teachers on what they do to combat burnout. What really helps me is not doing any work during the weekends. I used to take work home on the weekends, but I stopped doing this since last year. It is not worth it. It does not help but add more stress to my life. I do all of my planning and paperwork on Fridays, even if it means I will stay until 6 or so. I also have been trying my best to avoid negative teachers and staff members who do nothing but complain and gripe about their jobs. I am lucky that I get to go in my car several times during the day as I drive to different schools where I can play my favorite tunes really loud and sing my heart out, which helps relieve some stress.

Another D/HH Teacher wrote about the stress the job has caused her. If you have any tips or suggestions please visit her post and leave them in the comment section.

What do you do to avoid burnout?