Staying proactive as a tutor in this crazy world

Being a teacher means you're constantly in contact with students, parents, and coworkers. Teachers' strong commitment to their students can make teaching mentally taxing. Teaching is fulfilling, but it also has the potential to be stressful, leading to a wide range of physiological and psychological reactions. That's why teachers need to prioritize mental and physical health to be in the best possible condition to help their students.

Workee experts discuss how to stay proactive as a tutor in this Crazy World with Kasie Oswald, a certified English teacher and Beachbody Coach. She is the founder of Teaching With Kasie, a blog dedicated to assisting other teachers or workout buddies embarking on building successful businesses and achieving fitness success.

What is teacher burnout?

The World Health Organization recognizes burnout as a medical syndrome caused by chronic work-related stress, with symptoms including "feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one's job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job; and reduced professional efficacy." So, you can say that teacher burnout is a lack of physical, cognitive, and emotional energy that significantly decreases motivation to work. 

Is there a difference between being tired and burnout?

In the beginning, burnout can look like tiredness because both involve a growing sense of exhaustion. When you're tired, it's easier to regain your strength over the weekend or after a good sleep or meal. (Unless it is medically-related fatigue, which can be chronic). This is not the case with burnout. Burnout is more difficult to deal with. It depends on the intensity and length of the burnout, the quality of the recovery, and the overall situation of the person experiencing it.

What would you say are the factors that contribute to tutor burnout?

A lot of factors can cause tutor burnout. It is an ongoing process that does not happen suddenly but as a result of certain events and situations. It could be due to an imbalance in one's personal and professional life. For example, it could start from a perception that you're not a real teacher, classroom behavior issues, lack of support, feeling unappreciated, dealing with helicopter parents, not giving yourself a break, having to do so many things at once, etc.

How can tutors tell that they're burnt out - what are the signs to look out for?

I think that burnout works the same, regardless of profession. However, when we look at the symptoms for tutors, we see that it is primarily a lack of physical and emotional strength and a feeling of unusual exhaustion due to the demands of the job. Another red flag is detachment from work and other personal activities. Not wanting to be invested in anything concerning students, parents, or even colleagues.

What are the most effective ways for tutors to avoid burnout?

  • Balance your time

To keep from getting burned out, you need to learn to balance your time, attention, and emotions between work and personal life. Personal life extends beyond the family sphere. It includes not only relationships with loved ones and running the home but also taking the time to get to know and love yourself on a deep level. We must devote time and attention to ourselves, our inner thoughts, or activities that address our needs.

  • Plan accordingly

Tutors often think they can live up to the idea of "making everyone happy." However, such lofty goals are not based on reality and are far beyond the teacher's abilities. Focus on the "here and now," or the specific things that need to be done and problems that need to be solved to reach the ideal goal. This way, you won't make yourself feel frustrated or let down. Think about what you want to achieve in life and at work, and then think about how to reach these goals. Start with small steps and then move on to bigger ones. Don't put yourself in situations where you don't have enough time to finish a task. This adds unnecessary stress and eventually leads to burnout. Remember to always focus on what you have going for you in hard times.

  • Understand your limits

Burnout occurs when people push themselves beyond their limits and try to do more than they are capable of. Avoid the trap of comparing your teaching effectiveness to that of other teachers. Say you discover that so-and-so holds 100 classes per week, but you can only manage 50. Don't force it. Be okay with holding those 50 classes and doing them well. Understand that everyone has varying levels of ability and that some can do more than others. Recognize what you're capable of, and know what works for you.

  • Remember to rest

Giving yourself time to rest and making good use of it is the simplest way to achieve balance and avoid burnout. It's important to remember that there should be a daily, weekly, and yearly rhythm to rest. Each person may need a slightly different amount of time to get their physical, mental, and emotional state back to 100. Always remember to take a break for a few hours during the day, a few days during the week, and a few weeks during the year. The kinds of things we do during that time are also important for rest to work. For rest to be effective, you should be completely free of all responsibilities at work and home. Avoid anything that will cause you to become physically exhausted.

  • Weekends should be off limits

Take weekends off whenever possible. Because most tutors work online, they are always tempted to take their work to the weekends even though that's when they should be resting. You need to make a deliberate choice to take the weekends for yourself!

  • It's okay to say no

Tutors may have a hard time turning down requests from students, parents,  coworkers, friends, and family for a variety of reasons: Fear of disappointing others, fear that you could be missing out on an opportunity to earn more, fear that there may be repercussions, or maybe you simply don't know how to say no. 

  • Seek support from other tutors

Support is an effective factor in helping to cope with burnout and stress. Sometimes, being around coworkers going through the same problems as you can help you talk about them and find solutions. Part of the healing process would be to get out of your professional environment together, make and deepen relationships, and find and pursue new interests.

  • Be involved, but know how much is too much

Being sensitive to your student's needs is great, but it's easy to cross that thin line where we think that someone else's problem is ours and makes us feel like the only one who can solve it is us. Sometimes it's best to take a step back and try to look at the situation objectively from a distance and suggest people who can help. Remember that you cannot solve every problem.

  • Switch things up a little

Routine can get boring and draining. Trying to shake things up now and then will do you great. You will be amazed how the right amount of change can affect everything, including how you work and teach, your interests, and your overall outlook on life.

Thank you, Kasie, for sharing your insights with us and supporting Workee!

Find more interesting tips on Kasie's Youtube.

Learn more about Kasie on her blog.

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