VIRTUAL TEACHING AND BURSTS OF BURNOUT
This piece is a short burst piece about a short burst of digital burnout. This is a special kind of burnout that I have only experienced in virtual teaching. I give some tips to avoid it and how I came back from it this week.
GOOD OLD FASHIONED TEACHER BURNOUT
Now, I have experienced burnout before. Usually by the end of the school year, even the teachers are counting down the days until we no longer have to lesson plan and plan out our words. We look forward to a new world– to be free in a world of warm weather allowed to say what we please, in the order we please, and leave questioning to a mere basic level.
SUDDEN VIRTUAL BURNOUT
All of a sudden, this semester at school hit me at once, and I found myself unable to look at the computer for one more second, even with my adorable blue light glasses.
Nothing could cure it; I couldn’t work. I couldn’t look at the screen.
This is what I call virtual burnout. It came suddenly and without warning. Different from the past annual teacher burnout curable only by summer, it didn’t creep slowly. In fact, I thought I was doing quite well for some time– minus the fact I say daily,
“It isn’t a school day if Ms. Williamson doesn’t have a tech issue, guys.”
I am proud to say it was quick and I repaired my virtually scrambled brains within a few days.
I thought it fair to share a quick journal of the brief come back to virtual sanity.
WHAT TO DO WHEN THE DIGITAL WORLD MELTS YOUR SMART TEACHER BRAINS
- Take the personal day(s) off (DO IT!) and get your life together/ Self Care your way if you don’t have the day— I finally just took the personal day I needed. Here is the complete list of all the self-care things I did that day:
- I made my bed and my guest bed first. They were beautiful. They are beautiful. I looked at them and took in the moment of the first time I had seen those made beds in weeks. Yes, I did something on the ‘to do’ list. Good start, Mich.
- I put in my sub plans feeling pretty refreshed and checked in with all my teaching assistants since they took my classes for the day. Check– felt good to get it done immediately.
- I used my last god-damn bath bomb. I have been trying to use all the things I love freely, but thank goodness past Michie knew to save this one for a real day. I needed it– orange sherbet. I love anything orange smelling, thank you universe. THANK YOU ME! Call me basic, but bath bomb self care is a win for me.
- I cleaned every surface in my whole house. Man, oh man, does this math teacher lady love a good clean work surface.
- I did house projects while catching up on some high quality television– Dr. Who on HBO and Prom on Netflix– both solid.
- I made myself a person again, one that was so totally capable of working.
- Do the things! I recently read that this phrase needed to end, but literally stop hating on Millenials. I’m getting old, Gen Z, leave me alone. Anyway, DO THE THINGS! I finally just sat down in my perfect-feeling, little existence of clean and did the work. I graded the grades. I made the charts. I teacher-ed my little heart out. Now I am ready for the week and I alleviated the Sunday Scaries.
- Take the help! TAP, TAP, TAP [OUT.] Allow yourself to take the help if offered. I try not to really pull people into my chaos if I am feeling anxious or in this case burnout, but damn I will accept help. I was so lucky that my boyfriend offered help and came to Albany to take my place in volunteering, which I had planned to do tonight. I truly love supporting my community, especially with my club, however, the time to grade was what I needed. It helped so much to have that space and time back, and it made me so happy that someone took my place so they were not left short-handed. Not only did it make me happy, but he was happy to take the spot, see some club members, and support the community. A win-win for both of us.
- PLAN PLAN PLAN I know, I am a teacher lady, but planning is just the key to habits, which ya’ll know I believe is the key to a good – happy – simple daily life. I took the time off for the day during the week and then more time during this weekend to plan for better. I first reflected on the issues at hand and on ways I could fix them in the coming weeks. Then I made a plan, plan, plan.
- Meditate I hate to admit when someone gets me to meditate and it actually works. I try to say it doesn’t work for me and I resist but the truth is it is just really hard for me to sit still, so I resist doing it. It is hard. This time, I did this little 20 minute meditation on Netflix and my god, it did wonders for my haywire to-do-list brain. Calm down, Mish Mosh.
Don’t ignore it when you’re starting to feel overwhelmed. Figure out a way back to calm, whatever that way may be for you. Maybe you’re a bath bomber, a cooking calmer. Whatever gets you back to that productive teacher in you, do it. It may sound cheesy, but remember you’re worth the time. Teachers, put time into and do not forget about yourself in this mish mosh world.