Yesterday's ELTchat about teacher burnout got me thinking about a post I've had upstairs in the attic for quite a while.
Burnout is something every teacher will continually confront - even those of us with the best of jobs. Entropy is a law that applies to teaching as well as physics. Nor, is there a sure fire, one size fits all solution. Some teachers will have to just push through it. Others need to change things up a little. Some, change things up a lot and maybe head off in new directions. Some teachers will even get motivated by digging deeper and pushing hard (yes, it is true!). Some teachers will just need to step back and take a break.
That's what I am doing this year. It is hard without my own classroom (though I'm teaching online). I miss the contact, miss the involvement. Miss my nice big office and the starbucks 20m away! Still, I needed it and needed a new challenge. This year, really trying to do different things, start up and be independent. I work from home, have my new office finally set up. Doing some consulting for a few companies (most notably EnglishCentral) that I believe in (and I'll only support companies with vision and that have the teacher's interest in mind). Will be starting my own School of TEFL. I'm near my family that I love and am now officially back from self imposed TESOL exile.
This is how I've always dealt with teacher burnout - by stepping back. As the French put it, "reculez pour mieux sauter". Stepping back so to jump further forward.
It is a principle we all have to learn to obey. When to push, when to step back. As an athlete, my job wasn't only training well - it was also perfecting the art of doing nothing. Only with rest, does growth come. I am also thinking now about long jumpers - how they step back, rock back and forth as they look down the runway before leaping so far far ahead....
My stepping back involves getting in touch with my self. Teaching takes so much selflessness and pulls you so much away from yourself - you need this, all teachers need this. For me, stepping back towards myself involves renewing old habits. Like reading and poetry. Like running. Like making materials for teachers.
I returned to my old karaoke making today - inspired by a song I love and used to spend hours running the streets to. U2 - running to stand still. Perfect for your students and also you - many of you who might be "running to stand still".
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