Monday, March 6, 2017

Tired Teaching

By Peg Balachowski, Associate Dean for Teaching & Learning at EvCC

I am a regular reader of educational blogs, and recently Maryellen Weimer, one of my favorite bloggers wrote in Faculty Focus:

“I have been wanting to do a blog post on tired teaching for some time now. Concerns about burnout are what’s motivating me. Teachers can reach a place where teaching does nothing for them or their students. They don’t just wake up one morning and find themselves burned out; they’ve moved there gradually, and it’s a journey that often starts with tired teaching.”

Coincidentally, I was walking down the hallway in my building this morning and saw a poster for self-care. I think that tired teaching often occurs at the end of the quarter, especially winter quarter (Snow? Rain? Commuting in the dark both ways? ) We are nearing the end of Winter Quarter, and even though the days are getting longer and spring is just a few weeks away, many of us are in the doldrums common at this time of year. Are you feeling burned out? Are you experiencing tired teaching? Are you just tired? What to do?
Let’s talk about some techniques you might consider for taking care of yourself to get you through the next few weeks, ways to find balance and be aware of your needs:

  • Make time for self-reflection
  • Choose exercise when you are feeling particularly stressed
  • Be sure to pay attention to your nutrition, possibly reducing your caffeine intake
  • Avoid getting overloaded – take care of tasks as soon as possible
  • Learn to say no
  • Call a friend
  • Make time for sleep
There are some activities that would be good to avoid, such as sitting in your office for hours at a time getting that grading done. Take a break – walk down the hall and have a chat, however brief, with a colleague. The walk and the talk will help! I like to push away from my computer periodically and do a few yoga stretches (reaching for the sky, deep breaths), and a colleague in my hallway says she always takes the long way around to visit her Dean. And sometimes you do need to just close your office door. Interruptions are inevitable – after all, our goal is to support students, and we can’t always choose the time when they need the most help. Consider this permission to close your door for 15 minutes the next time you are feeling really stressed, and take a few deep breaths.

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