3 Ways to Avoid Burnout: Teaching during Coronavirus

Covid-19 has thrown a curveball to just about everyone. I know that teachers are by far not the only people who are having to revamp their routines and adjust their schedules to meet Coronavirus standards.

I have been back in the classroom for only a few weeks and I hate to say it, I’m already starting to feel the “dragged through the mud” level of tiredness in the evenings and on the weekends. If I am feeling it, I thought that others might be as well. Here are the things that I am trying to do to keep myself pepped up and going through this new journey.

Get some exercise

Sounds simple, right? But, it isn’t.

For some background on my particular position, I am a private school teacher in Northern Virginia. To meet the needs of the students, my school has changed all teachers’ hours.
In the past, teacher hours were from 8:00am to 4:30 pm; now, it is 6:30am to 3:05 pm.

I will say that getting out of school basically an hour and a half earlier is amazing, but it leaves me completely wiped out at the end of the day. The only way I can fit in some exercise time is in the morning. Now, since the expectation is to be in my classroom at 6:30, that leaves me getting up for my day at 4:30 am.

Yes. It is brutal but it helps. As early as it is, it is a time of the day that I look forward to. It is really the only time of the day that I get to myself and I am the priority. It helps me start my day on a positive note and leaves me feeling like I have accomplished something before the sun is even up. It also makes me feel like I am choosing to wake up early for me, not because I have to go to work two hours earlier this year.

Now, if you have followed me and my journey at all, you will know about my horrendous yardwork catastrophes. I will admit, the last week or so I have not been getting up early to exercise because I have been bitten/stung by a supposed “blister beetle”.

Yes, it is as miserable as it sounds and more disgusting than you’re imagining.

Since my blister beetle attack, I have not been exercising in the morning because nothing sounds more miserable than hot, sweaty and uncontrollably itchy. It has made me realize how important this exercise routine is to me. I may have been getting up earlier, but I had more energy from it.

Thankfully, my beetle injury is almost healed and I am looking forward to jumping back on my Peloton bike and hitting my 5 day streaks again.

Stay creative

I say “stay creative’ but let me elaborate. What I mean is stay open to new ideas. Especially in your classroom. Right now, school is hard. If your kiddos are sitting at their desks behind shields and masks remember to give everyone (including yourself) some grace. These are long days ahead and having your kids do and learn things a bit differently is okay. Some of the ways I have tried to stay creative in my classroom are:

  • Keeping the kids moving. This is a real challenge since the kids aren’t supposed to touch anything that someone else has touched and they aren’t actually supposed to be near each other. So, we do regular brain breaks- I love a good Dinosaur Stomp from Koo Koo Kanga Roo but also having them get up and do things like jump while counting in math or taking them outside to do a science lesson. Letting them act out new vocabulary words at their seat or even just a regular old walk around the classroom or campus can help keep their blood moving.
  • Teach lessons differently to how you would typically teach them. In a typical second grade class, kids are grouped together working on assignments or sitting at their teacher’s feet while listening to a read aloud. That isn’t happening anymore. It’s okay for your classroom to look and sound different right now. This week, I thought my “changes through time” lesson would have gone totally differently. Half way through the lesson, myself and the kids were dying- to the point even I thought the clock had stopped. It hadn’t.
    Next thing, I found myself handing out Venn Diagrams and having the kids watch and compare cartoons from different eras. It was all completely on the fly and they LOVED IT. It got the point I was teaching across and the day ended on a high note rather than a “Thank God it’s over” note.

Keep positive

Now, if you knew me in my classroom last week, this would be the most ironic thing I could say because I was a Negative Nancy all the way.

My arm was itchy and bandaged, I was tired, my throat was sore from having to talk through my mask all day and I just wasn’t feeling it. Then, I had some friends who just picked me right up. Yes, there are things to whine about but is that going to do anything? Probably not.
When I sat back and thought about it, feeling sorry for myself wasn’t helping me in my personal life and it certainly wasn’t doing anything for my students. I can’t control decisions that my school may make but I can control my reaction to those decisions.

I am the kind of person that is easily influenced by my atmosphere. I can be in a great mood and then run into a friend who is having a rough day and it can completely throw off my mojo. It’s probably the thing I like least about myself. To work on this, I have been trying to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. I am trying to remind myself, as frustrating as things may be, circumstances could be a lot harder than what they are. I have started taking moments of gratitude for my health and for the classroom of amazing kids and their parents I have inherited. Because after all, we all know how miserable tough parents can break a year.

I hope this has been able to bring you some insight and perspective. It’s okay to have a rough day, but just because it’s a rough day doesn’t mean that it has to be a rough week.

About The Author

Katie O'Brien

Katie O'Brien

Katie is a second grade teacher at a private school in Virginia. She focuses on teacher organization and strives to help other teaches become more organized.

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