6 Ways to Beat Teacher Burnout

Beating teacher burnout is tough, anyone who’s taught ESL for long enough has been there: You started out strong. You loved it and walked into class every day with a bounce in your step and joy in your heart. And then somewhere along the way, you found yourself losing that enthusiasm. 

Frustrated!Lessons seemed rote, games were repetitive and lacking joy, and your students’ once-endearing quirks and habits started to frustrate you. 

Don’t worry; you’re not alone. Just about every teacher will experience a burn-out at some point or another. It doesn’t mean you’ve forever lost your love of teaching; it just means that “honeymoon” phase of teaching has worn off, and that now it’s time to look for some more creative ESL ideas to make your classes, and your teaching career, come back to life.

Change the structure of your class

Sometimes a little novelty is all it takes to get you and your students fully engaged.  You can change the layout of the classroom, change seating, or get some new materials to use.

If you have lesson plans provided to you, chances are they follow a pretty rigid structure, which gets boring pretty quickly.  Try shuffling around the normal lesson routines and order every month or two.

While kids need a clear structure and a clear expectation of what is coming next, they also need change and new situations to keep them on their feet, so find a balance between consistency and keeping classroom routines fresh.

Start incorporating your personal interests

What is it that you truly love?  Whether it is writing, music, the outdoors, movies, or culture, there is always a way to incorporate it into the classroom.  You can start small, by starting the classes with a five-minute activity based around a passion of yours, or you can periodically plan larger lessons or activities around these subjects.

Get the kids involved, too, and give them a chance to share their passion – it’s contagious!

Take a break!

There’s a reason teachers at public schools have the whole summer off. The time to reset is crucial to come back to classes with a fresh mind and a new sense of enthusiasm.

Unfortunately, cram schools and ESL schools don’t usually follow that same schedule. Even when there are breaks over holidays, it’s easy to get sucked into working during those breaks.

But if you’re feeling burnt-out, then making sure you get enough time away from classes is critical to keeping the enthusiasm there.  Travel, visit home, or just relax and spend time with local friends – whatever you need to do to reset and refresh, give yourself time to do it if you want to beat burnout.

Commit to tackling classroom management

Often, what burns us out and leaves us struggling to drag ourselves to school every day is the battle to keep the class in control. Tackling these problems might seem like a losing battle or more effort than it’s worth, especially when you’re already feeling drained.

But the challenge of finding new ways to approach difficult discipline situations, and the small victories that you will have watching students behavior improve will definitely help keep the enthusiasm up for class.

Keep bringing in new ideas

One of the biggest things that leads to feelings of burnout is just not having enough challenge or novelty.  You get familiar with the structure of the class, lesson planning gets easy, even discipline problems seem to follow the same predictable pattern every time.

You know your students and your lessons so well you could pretty much just go through the day on auto-pilot – and so you do. But there are tons of creative ways to have fun and bring something new to your classes.

Look into different methods of teaching; through using stories, songs, movement, or art. Talk to the school about a short field trip, or bringing in a guest to your class. ESL Library has some very creative ESL teaching ideas for inspiration. The important thing is to find creative ways keep class new and interesting.

Keep your life outside of school exciting

Sometimes the problem isn’t just in the classroom; sometimes it’s a general dissatisfaction that bleeds from the rest of your life into your teaching.

Look at your life outside of classes: is it rich and fulfilling? Do you make time for hobbies, friends, travel, and new adventures? Or do you feel like the thrill of being in a new country has worn off and now you’re just stuck in the day-to-day rut of work and home?

The passion and joy you bring to your job is closely tied to the passion and joy that you have outside of your job. Putting a little focus on reconnecting with joy in other areas of your life can have a huge effect on your teaching without you even having to change anything in the classroom.

Yes, each one of these things is going to take a lot more effort on your part, but you get what you give.  And what you get when you give your classes a little more effort and love is a more fulfilling job, a more meaningful role as a teacher, and a way to finally beat teacher burnout

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