Teacher burnout is becoming far too common amongst the teaching profession. At TwoSigmas, we recognise this and want to help you make changes to the way you work in order to avoid it.
Our top tip: keep a journal.
The amount of paperwork teachers have to fill out has multiplied throughout the years. In addition to keeping a record of student grades and progress; teachers are sometimes tasked with planning and implementing individualized learning programmes for specific students, making lesson plans for supervisors and building reports for accreditation. When teachers aren’t teaching, they are often writing about teaching. Luckily a portion of this can be reused in the form of syllabi and lesson plans. Data can be collected to give you an indication on what is working and what isn’t but there is another way that can help you dig deeper and will in turn help to relieve some of the stresses of teaching...
Journalling is often associated with teenagers and yoga instructors as a methodology to document the intimate thoughts, aspirations, and stresses one might encounter in a given moment. Teachers have a real opportunity to adopt some of these strategies to build a living document of their craft. A journal can be anything from specific notes on how you are interacting with an individual student or just your thoughts and feelings on a given day at work. Let's face it, everyone loves a leather bound journal and brightly coloured sticky notes are always on the shopping list. We can't find a reason not to give this a try!
A graduate MFA program at The University of California requires each graduate student, teaching undergraduate classes, to make a journal entry after each class. These entries can be in any form that resonates with the teacher. In some cases an entry may only be one word long - hopefully not an expletive- but we’ve all been there. Most often these journals evolve from writing about the students work to focussing on the teachers, how they feel about their performance delivering a topic or their struggles reaching a group. Over time these journals become a tapestry of frustrations, challenges, victories, and successes.
This journal will become a document teachers can reliably look back on to see how they have grown. The journal entries from the graduate students in their first year of teaching, is vastly different from their third. Undeniable progress in the competency of their teaching is clear! When this technique is carried out throughout a career, a teacher has a working document which might reveal that a “new” challenge is actually similar to one they have encountered in the past.
Taking a few seconds or hours (if that's your choice) to put on paper what is in your head is a beautiful release. These journals can be written anywhere and at any time. A running document on a computer is just as valuable as a leather bound journal. The point here is making time to write - your time. Find a way to enjoy this time and if there are days when you don’t want to write an entry, write it anyway-those are the days you absolutely should be writing, even if it is just one word.
Check out our favourite journals here.