Let’s Turn Teacher Fatigue into Teacher Resilience!

 

For the past six months, educators have been put through the ringer – learning multiple new digital platforms, communicating non-stop with anxious parents, and constantly pivoting when technology errors or lapses occur. Needless to say, they’re tired. They are burnt out. They are fatigued. As schools enter the final stretch of a challenging year, administrators everywhere are faced with the task of how to help their staff avoid teacher burnout. Simply put, how can we keep our teachers energized and engaged?

Self-Care Works!

One way to energize your staff at the end of the year is to encourage self-care. Consider engaging them in exercise or mindfulness activities. Enlist the skills and hobbies of your staff and empower them to lead an activity with their peers. Some activities might include Zumba, yoga, high-intensity workouts, or something as simple as organized group walks. (At one school, the high-intensity workouts were organized by an expecting mother – it’s hard to not be inspired by that!)

Social Activities

Schools which have been empty during remote learning, and which now may be getting reopened as states relax indoor restrictions, will face the challenge of rebuilding a sense of community that may have faded during this stressful and taxing period. Look to rebuild your community’s sense of school spirit through social activities such as bingo, lawn games, or potluck lunches.

Camaraderie

Lastly, while self-care is crucial (especially at this juncture of the school year), building your team’s sense of camaraderie is vital as well. One way to do this could be by making team T-shirts and wearing them every Friday, for example. Or, even better, have teachers do this with their students, too! 

Similarly, to keep your staff energized, consider asking them (either with their kids or for their kids) to decorate their hallways. As an example, one school who was expecting a big group of remote kids back into the building decorated their hallways like a welcome back party. This increased morale and made both the staff and the students feel loved. 

Another way to increase staff camaraderie is to give mystery gifts to staff members and urge them to ‘pay it forward’ by sending mystery gifts to others. At one school, this was called getting “boo’d” around Halloween and getting “snow’d” once winter arrived. Again, these are ways to boost staff morale, keep teachers energized, and make one another smile. 

 

Exercise/Mindfulness

Social Activities

Camaraderie

Zumba
Bingo
Staff T-shirts
HIIT workouts
Lawn games
Decorating contests
Yoga
Potluck lunches
Raffles
Team walks
Mystery gifts

 

Teachers have been working hard to provide the best education possible for millions of students – and it’s tiring! It’s extremely important for your staff to feel engaged, energized, vibrant, and motivated. By creating opportunities for self-care, teachers will feel appreciated, energized, and, most importantly, they will do their very best work for their students. 

Written by Derek Lakey, Vice Principal, James M Morton Middle School


 

Derek Lakey is a native of southeastern Massachusetts. He has been a teacher and administrator in an urban, high needs setting for 15 years. In these roles, he has worked hard to close achievement gaps, increase students’ social and emotional wellbeing, and help grow educators into model teachers. He has been implementing Responsive Classroom strategies at his school and with his staff for 6 years.

 

 


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