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Paulette Chaffee Gives Advice on Avoiding Teacher Burnout

man and woman sitting on chairsChoosing to become a teacher is as gratifying as it is demanding- just ask educator and Ambassador for Orange County 4th District Paulette Chaffee, who has taught many students ranging from special education to preschool, elementary, and middle school. As an educator and advocate for public education, Chaffee understands how quickly the job can lead to burnout. Here, Ms. Chaffee uses her experience in the classroom to offer the following tips to help avoid teacher burnout:

Find Ways to Cope with Stress

Burnout’s best fuel is stress, so one of the most effective ways to avoid burnout is to address the stress before it starts to build. There are many different proactive ways to manage stress, and it all starts with keeping the basics in mind. Maintaining a healthy diet, daily exercise, and proper sleep are three beginning steps to dealing with everyday stress. Other methods of defusing stress include practicing meditation, yoga, or breathing exercises.

Establish Idea of Ideal Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is essential to staying grounded and setting boundaries on work stress. The wonderful thing about work-life balance is that it’s not one-size-fits-all; it looks different for everyone. For example, some teachers consider spending time with their children or spouse as work-life balance. In contrast, others see work-life balance as incorporating certain hobbies like personal interests or sports. Once you define a unique image for work-life balance, determine what steps it takes to get there.

Always Infuse Fun into Teaching

When educators are exhausted and drained, they can find themselves at their wit’s end when managing their many responsibilities in the classroom. Infusing fun into daily lesson plans allows both the teacher and students to look forward to a particular aspect of learning. Teachers can incorporate different forms of classroom fun into everyday learning, including a word-of-the-day, educational jokes or puns, quotes, puzzles, TED Talks, crafts, games, or hands-on experiments.

Another approach to actively engage students and have a bit of fun is to allow for days where students teach students. For example, once a week, teachers can enable students to choose a topic or vocabulary word they want to teach the class while the educator observes.

Practice Growth Mindset with Students

An excellent way to stay in the right headspace and dodge burnout is to practice having a growth mindset when approaching learning in the classroom and understanding how to exercise the brain like a muscle. Educators can also teach students about the benefits of having a growth mindset alongside a positive attitude and developing their own growth mindset. Doing so can help foster a sense of togetherness in the classroom environment and embrace challenges as a group while learning how to find joy in educational development.

Try and Stay Ahead of Schedule

Many teachers can relate to starting the school year off on the right note, only to find themselves scrambling to keep up with setting lesson plans, carpool duty, and after-school commitments in a few months. Educators who want to avoid stress and feelings of falling behind should develop a strategy to set their ongoing schedules up for success. Commit to one day of the week, maybe Sundays, to catching up and planning. As the saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail.

About Paulette Chaffee

Paulette Chaffee is an educator and Ambassador for Orange County 4th District. She received her Bachelor of Science degree and Master of Science degree in Communicative Disorders from the University of Redlands in California. She also has earned a Lifetime Teaching Credential in the State of California a Juris Doctor degree from California’s Western State University.

Chaffee currently serves as a Board Member on All the Arts for All the Kids Foundation in Fullerton School District. In 2017, Chaffee was awarded Woman of the Year by OC YWCA. Other awards Chaffee has received include Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva’s Woman of Distinction and Fullerton School District’s Above and Beyond Award.