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'Tis the Season for Teacher Burnout

There is no question that even the strongest, most seasoned teacher finds themselves in burn out during the school year. It's February- your child's teacher has been designing and implementing lessons, conquering challenging behaviors, navigating paperwork demands, attending meetings and collaborating with colleagues and administrators since August. All the while they have been raising their children, tending to their home lives, and doing their best to dodge the flu.

In two months, public school students will be asked to take the knowledge they acquired this school year and use it to perform to the best of their ability on a test lasting approximately two hours per day, sometimes more, over several days. Their teacher is currently tasked with preparing them for that next whilst likely abandoning the sinking feeling that some just aren't ready; some need more instruction or a type of instruction they are unable to provide. Your teachers are stressed- they want the same success for your child as you do, and they have likely attended one, if not many, staff meetings to advocate for your child to get them the supports they need.

It's this time of year that teachers must pull it all together and prepare to have their methodologies and skills tested, not through themselves, but through their students. This time, more than any other, is when they need an encouraging, "thank you." A story from home where you have seen growth- big or small. This is that time of year to remind your teachers that they matter.

As reported by NPR in a July 2014 issue citing statistical findings from the Alliance for Excellent Education, an advocacy group:

Roughly half a million U.S. teachers either move or leave the profession each year. This kind of turnover comes at a steep cost, not only to students but to districts: up to $2.2 billion a year. There were more than 3 million full-time teachers in 2013, according to the Department of Education, meaning nearly 15 percent of the workforce is moving or leaving every year. And, the study says, at-risk students suffer the most.

I had the pleasure of attending the Courage to Risk education conference in January, where I was fortunate enough to meet Christian Moore, author of The Resiliency Break Through and developer of the WhyTry resilience education program. Below are some helpful tips he send to teachers to avoid burn out- I encourage you pass them on to your child's teacher:

1. Learn a new strategy: Encourage teachers to gain new tools. One to two days of participating in a staff development or training in an area of interest, while this means time away from your child, it is also the most effective way to allow teachers to expand their skill base and increase the variety of tools in their toolbox. Trainings Also help teachers feel excitement again and connects them with other educators, building an invaluable support system.

2. Focus on strengths, not weaknesses. Teachers may be feeling defeated, whether they are not hitting metrics or their students don’t seem to be responding to lessons as expected. At the end of the day, they are great educators because they care, so focus on the key things they've done, not what is discouraging you.

3. Encourage them to get to know your child on a greater level. Connecting with students increases an important relationship aspect that pushes students to put their best foot forward. Students are more likely to respond to their teachers when they have a relationship, and in turn, teachers will better know how to reach their students individually.

4. Keep in mind that teaching is an emotional profession. Teachers face pressures from officials and administrators that they likely feel don’t understand what it’s like to actually teach. It is perfectly normal for teachers to feel frustrated, exhausted, defeated. It is important for teachers to use these emotions to push forward and do their absolute best for their students.

5. Finally, a lesson for us all from Christian Moore: Flip the Switch. In every situation where you want to react negatively, flip the switch. Use your anger and frustration to propel you forward. Try to be greater instead of giving up, knowing you can and do make a difference!

We all make the biggest difference when we come together, encourage each other, and work collaboratively to problem solve. We must all work to foster resilience in ourselves, and in others.

Want to know more about the WhyTry program and learn why Owl Education Group will be implementing the program in the 2017 - 2018 school year? https://www.whytry.org

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