If you’re a frequent reader of the news, you will likely agree with me that the conversation about teaching in the last few years has been telling.
With headlines such as “Teacher Stress is Killing My Profession” (CBC), “Overwhelmed Canadian Teachers are Quitting in Droves” (The Epoch Times), and “Frustration. Burnout. Attrition. It’s Time to Address the National Teacher Shortage” (NPR) circulating the press, we know these are troubled times in teaching.
It’s that time of the year when a dry erase marker that won’t work or first block without your morning coffee is enough to flip your normally jovial, light-hearted self into a snarling, spitting cat.
Welcome to the end of the school year, where the survivors are few and the wounded many. You have made it through the morass of the school year—avoided the grenades, crouched low, staked out your territory—and made it to the other side of the trenches. This is no man’s land, but you—and a few other teachers who remain relatively sane—have nearly made it.
Any armchair psychologist need only survey your wrinkled teacher garb and your matted, knotted hair to identify your condition: end-of-year teacher burnout. But it takes a teacher who has been there and done that, one who has gained a degree in armchair psychology from The School of Life to advise a burnt-out teacher what to do about it.
While I may not hold a master’s or PhD, I do hold that precious degree from The School of Life, and here is what I know about end-of-year teacher burnout.
When I was a first year teacher now nearly five years ago, I knew as much about teaching as I do about the types of clouds or the kinds of rocks: I had a vague recollection of learning facts about these things in school long, long ago, but put me in a rock museum or ask me to describe the clouds above my eyeballs, and I’d be stumped.
As a first year teacher, my knowledge of teaching was academic. In teachers’ college, I had been fed from a trough of fun, impractical theories; I had viewed classroom simulations comprised of perfectly behaved adults who playfully mimicked rebellious teenagers; I drank Starbucks lattes and sucked on bonbons as my professors talked about creativity, fun, and social justice. In short, I had no idea what hell awaited me.
Here is my practical advice for first year teachers.
HOW TO BE THE BEST STUDENT TEACHER EVER
Four years. I cannot believe it has been four years since I wrote a blog post.
A lot has happened in my teaching career over the past four years. I moved schools. I now primarily teach English. I’ve read some transformative teaching books. and I’ve recently been inspired by a teacher Youtuber and a great teacher blogger. But none of this compares to having the whole circle of life turned upside down and belly up when I became a mentor teacher to two student teachers.
Two student teachers!
Two days ago was the last day with my second student teacher, who was a pleasure to have in my classroom. For all of you education majors gearing up for student teaching, let me tell you what my latest student teacher did to be the best student teacher ever.
MY TOP 10 TIPS FOR STUDENT TEACHERS