Did you know that teachers make on average about 1500 decisions in a workday? We know! This sounds extreme, but it’s true. A TEFL teacher not only have to conduct lesson plans and follow through with them but have to grade assignments and homework, and run a classroom filled with different personalities and issues that may arise. We want you to know that we hear you and that we are here for you! We’re going to let you know how to try and avoid this very common problem that happens to the best of us.
Setting a Schedule
Although this may seem like a given, this is vital to sustaining your mental health and maintaining a normal life outside of work. Once you set a schedule within work, you’ll find that you have a lot more time on your hands and will be a lot more productive within that time you’ve put aside for your lesson plans and homework corrections.
An easy way to do this is to set up a calendar. If you link this with your phone and block out time before your lessons or once a week to sit down and prepare for the week ahead, you’ll be able to check your schedule if you get invited somewhere and be able to let them know you are working. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail!
Keep in mind that self-discipline is hard, but just because it’s not class time that isn’t structured, does not mean it’s not as important. Once you have this time scheduled, it will help you get a sense of freedom during your off times and you won’t feel guilty doing something fun on the weekends with the amount of work in the back of your head.
Speaking of fun on the weekends, you must always remember to keep a social life. Social interaction is very important for everyone’s sanity, so why should a TEFL teacher have any less? You have your work schedule made out, so always remember to get out and have some fun.
The outdoors and the fresh air that comes with it are seriously underrated when it comes to mental health. If you’ve moved abroad to teach English, you’ve moved to that country for a reason. See the sights and be a tourist on your days off.
Adding to this, some private teaching work can be a little bit all over the place when it comes to working hours. If this is you then make sure to get up that little bit earlier for a nice walk in the mornings. This will clear your head and get you ready for the day. It’s even as important as preparing for your lessons, even more so!
Think about your Sleep
Sleep is also another thing that can be underrated. We know when you’re in a new country or after making new friends out of your colleagues, sleep can seem like a secondary worry. Let us tell you this, it’s not. This should be the main priority, and it’s scientifically proven. When you are in your REM state, or other words dreaming, you subconsciously work through a lot of your issues and worries. Whether these worries are minimal or serious, about work or personal, it’s important to work through them.
Not getting enough sleep can affect your waking state. Simple barriers during the day can seem to be a lot bigger than everyday problems. It’s ok to cancel some plans to go to bed early once in a while. If you have an early class, don’t spend 2 hours after going to bed scrolling through your phone. We are not invincible and we need our sleep! Even a TEFL teacher!
REM is important, and similar to this meditation can be beneficial. Practicing mindfulness is no easy task. It can take a lot of practice but stick with it, and you’ll find that getting into that relaxing state will become easier and easier.
You never know! You may even have a brainwave or two about lesson plans or the bigger picture of where you’d like to go next.
Use your Apps to Help
For some, sleeping and meditation come naturally to them. However, for a lot of people in a multicultural world that never sleeps, this can be really difficult. In this day and age, there are lots of apps to help you with this. Don’t be afraid to try them out and see what works for you.
A very popular choice is the Fitbit watch. It measures your sleep at night, has a relaxation assistant, and keeps an eye on your exercise. These are all vital when it comes to protecting your mental health and avoiding teacher burnout. If you don’t have a watch, other apps include Calm, Podcast, and Fitness Pal, as well as the Health app that comes with your phone.
You can prepare and schedule and take care of yourself day after day. Be in a really good place. However, one negative aspect of work can bring you straight back down. This often happens when working online. Recognize and mitigate potential physical, mental, and professional hazards when working from home.
It can be tough to perceive the dangers of online teaching, especially if you are doing so from your own home. However, the negative impacts of being too sedentary, coping with possible abuse directed at you or your students, or even managing cultural differences between you and your employers can all have an impact on your physical and emotional health while teaching online.
Remember that having a prepared plan for any issue that may arise will help you in the long run. Without being too neurotic, of course, that in itself can cause stress. We can’t tell you what to do in certain situations, this is up to you, but if you do need some advice, we have job assistance for all of our alumni and are just on the other end of the phone.
To avoid teacher burnout, you’ll need to find what works for you. You can do a number of things that have helped our students in the past. These include having a social life, sticking to your daily routines, thinking about your sleeping patterns, using Apps to track your health to help, meditation and mindfulness, and identifying any issues that may arise in the classroom and knowing how to handle them.
Is TEFL really stressful?
TEFL itself is not stressful. Well..no more stressful than being any teacher. Being a teacher has its downs for sure, but it is definitely a rewarding vocation for any who decides to take this path. TEFL teachers, in comparison to public school teachers, do tend to get a lot more help within the classroom. If you go abroad, curriculums are normally outlined for each region or country. As for lesson plans, even these can be at your disposal, either from other teachers where colleagues will swap ideas or from the school itself. TEFL is a close-knit community and will help with the stresses of being a TEFL teacher.
With the younger classes, you may also get a support teacher in the classroom, who will be local and can help with any issues that come into play, such as toilet emergencies or sick children.
What are the most common causes of teacher burnout?
The most common cause of TEFL teacher burnout is overbooking yourself. Whether you are booking in too many hours online or saying yes to the principal for taking extra hours, it can be easily done. You have to always keep in mind that taking on an extra hour of class time also means that you are taking on lesson planning and homework correction time. Set your schedule accordingly and always remember that it is the quality of your classes that make you a good teacher, not the quantity.
Although we mention not to forget about social life, keep in mind that sleep is much more important. If you need to cancel on friends every once in a while, it won’t kill you. Keep some time aside for yourself. Meditate, relax, or read a book. This will help you to recharge and be ready for the day to come.
Another, albeit rarer, reason for teacher burnout is not particularly liking the subject you are teaching. Like in any industry, if you don’t like your job, doing it is a job constantly and time goes slow. It will drain you. Teaching is not all about money, but being passionate about your chosen profession. If you love your job, you’ll never work another day in your life.
What does teacher burnout feel like?
Burnout can affect teachers in all different ways. In a lesser sense, this can be tiredness and being a little short with your nearest and dearest. If it gets really bad, you can find yourself getting easily sick and rundown or even feeling anxiety or depression. If you are feeling tired of work and drained at the end of the day, take care of yourself and even take a mental health day. You don’t want it to progress out of control.
Don’t let this scare you off TEFL teaching! It is a truly amazing profession to go into! There is lots of support out there for teachers and as long as you follow our methods above, you’ll absolutely have a ball.