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Helping time-poor teachers avoid burnout with Jess Mason

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Helping time-poor teachers avoid burnout with Jess Mason

Teacher Spotlight is a new series by Firefly Education that will share insights from a variety of education influencers who inspire fellow teachers with their unique classroom knowledge and helpful resources.

Teacher burnout is a pressing issue in the education industry. A recent study found that 60% of Aussie teachers believe their workload is unmanageable. So how can teachers turn this around?

Firefly Education caught up with former teacher, mental health advocate, podcaster and our very own education consultant Jess Mason.

Jess shared some tips to help teachers manage their time and avoid burnout.

Discovering balance

As a teacher, finding balance in your working life can be a long but worthwhile journey. Jess shared the moment she realised it was time for change.

‘I was well into my first few years of teaching when I experienced quite intense anxiety which stemmed from the ever increasing workload as well as self-imposed pressure to be the best teacher I could be.’

From there, Jess began incorporating self-care and mindfulness into her daily routine. After realising the positive impact this was having on her wellbeing in and outside the classroom, she had to share it.

‘I was compelled to do what I could to support my fellow teachers. This began by way of creating a weekly wellbeing club for my colleagues, which then led to gaining my coaching qualification so I could start my own business supporting teachers across Australia.’

Telltale signs of burnout

Burnout is a term used frequently within the teaching community – but how can you tell if you could be experiencing burnout firsthand? According to Jess, telltale signs include:

  • over-identifying with your role as a teacher and experiencing a loss of personal identity
  • prioritising your job over your physical and mental health
  • feeling immense guilt when you choose to do anything for yourself
  • letting your students’ results dictate your worth
  • feeling dread relating to your job.

As Jess explained, the good news is that once you’re able to recognise the symptoms of burnout in your life, then you can take steps towards change.

The first step is self-awareness.

Begin with your beliefs

Jess shared that in the midst of a busy school year, showing up for your students begins with showing up for yourself.

Her number one tip for self-care is both simple and brilliant – begin with your beliefs.

‘I suggest starting off by doing an inner inventory of your beliefs,’ she explained.

Jess gave some examples.

Old belief: Being a good teacher means giving my all to my students.
New belief: When I show up for myself and my wellbeing, I show my students what’s possible for them too.

Old belief: It’s impossible to thrive as a teacher.
New belief: The system might not change, but I’m changing within it.

Small changes make a big difference

Implementing big changes in the middle of a busy term can feel impossible, so that’s why Jess suggests starting with the small ones.

‘List some of the activities you automatically do every day and ask yourself how you can turn each one into a more nourishing and supportive experience.

‘For example, transform your morning shower into a lush self-care practice by adding some tea light candles and soft music, or turn your playground duty into a mindful moment by grounding your feet and taking some deep belly breaths.’

It is no myth that a teacher’s to-do list never ends. Rather than adding to the list, Jess suggests considering what you’re already doing and modifying those actions instead.

‘You set yourself up for success when you look at what can be tweaked rather than what can be added,’ Jess explained. 

With studies indicating that teachers are now experiencing stress and anxiety more than ever before, the time to prioritise mental health is now.

Firefly Education is grateful to have such an insightful and knowledgable education consultant on our team.