Getting out of teacher burnout is no small task. Ever since the pandemic, teacher burnout has been on the rise. And you might be feeling like:
- You’re not just burned out professionally but you feel burned out in your personal life too
- You feel like you have a lack of boundaries and like you have lost your identity outside of teaching and even motherhood
- You’re constantly tired and fatigue and may feel like you have a short fuse
- Maybe you are tired of putting on the mask and want to find out who you are again
If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. This week I spoke to Brittany Blackwell, the CEO of Teaching Mind Body and Soul and we discussed her journey on getting out of teacher burnout.
So if you are ready to get out of teacher burnout once and for all, grab a coffee and let’s make it become reality!
Listen to the podcast:
[su_spoiler title=”The Secret to Getting out of Teacher Burnout with Founder of Teaching Mind Body and Soul Brittany Blackwell, M.Ed” style=”fancy”]Helena (00:02): Hey, there teacher besties. I have an amazing guest with me. Her name is Brittany, and I am so excited to get started. So, Brittany, welcome to the Present Teacher podcast. Go ahead and tell us a little bit about yourself. Brittany Blackwell (00:14): Well, I just wanna say thank you, Helena, for having me on the podcast, but my name is Brittany Blackwell. I am a classroom teacher. I am a special educator, and I have been in education for 11 years. Um, I am a previous special education coordinator, which I loved. But, um, I actually returned back to the classroom after my first daughter was born because I was working way too much and I needed to focus on my family. Um, a little bit about me, my husband and I have five kids together, so I am all about simplification, reducing overwhelm in any aspect, because if I didn’t I’d probably go crazy . (00:57): Um, but I, um, I dealt with a lot of heavy burnout, like personally, professionally. Um, I did extensive research about self-care, personal and professional growth, all of that stress management. Um, and I actually began teaching teachers how to reduce that overwhelm. Um, and as we entered the pandemic, um, I started sharing tips, tricks, all those sorts of things on, um, TikTok. And what I found was there were a lot of teachers that were leaving the profession, and it really kind of struck a nerve with me because they were a lot of really, really good teachers, like really passionate educators. And I could think I’ve been, I’ve been through that. I have totally lost myself to teaching before. And so I really started shifting my focus and started teaching educators everything that I researched from, um, stress, burnout, simplification boundaries, all that fun stuff that really isn’t discussed in teacher prep programs with my agency, teaching mind, body, and soul. And then I began my podcast, um, the Resilient Teacher Podcast in the summer of 2022 to reach and support more educators. So now that’s what I do. I am a teacher resilience and retention strategist, and I help encourage and inspire overwhelmed teachers, leaders, schools, districts to prioritize mental health and individualized resilience in burnout, recovery. Helena (02:29): All of that is so amazing. A little backstory. Brittany actually invited me to be in one of my first conferences. It was summer self-care conference. And you guys, the energy she has and the passion for creating or preventing burnout for other teachers is just so inspiring. I just had to have her on here. So thank you so much, Brittany, for being a part of this because yes, honestly, you’re one of the big reasons why the present teacher is here. So honored to have you. Oh, Brittany Blackwell (02:55): That’s so cool. . Helena (02:57): Um, so here on the present teacher, we like to talk about specifically our first years of teaching. I’ve kind of talked about my first year of teaching, but what was your experience like when you first walked into the classroom? Brittany Blackwell (03:09): When I first walked into the classroom, I actually started out as a kindergarten teacher. I quickly found out really fast that that was not my jam. Um, I was made for middle school and high school . That’s just what I was made for. And so that first year was really difficult for me. Um, it would probably be on a scale of one to 10, like 10 being the best, one being the worst, it was probably a three. Um, I felt very unprepared. I didn’t really know what I was in for. I actually subbed before I took my position, and I actually took my position mid-year. Um, so they added another class. I became the new kindergarten teacher and I was super overwhelmed. Um, I thought that I had to have everything in like a big binder. Like I thought I had to document everything. And then I was like, what do I do with these kids? (04:04): There’s kids with snot and, and poop and I don’t know what to do, . So I was just, I was really overwhelmed. Um, but that year was the year that I was like, Hmm, I don’t, I don’t think this age is right for me. Um, and so I actually went back and got my master’s degree in special education and I really wanted to just be able to reach all of the learners in my classroom. Like what I found was I only knew, you know, I only knew how to teach midway. I didn’t know how to teach my lower learners and I didn’t know how to, to reach those high achievers. And so I went back and got endorsed in gifted and talented and, um, got my special education certification and then I ended up doing something completely different, which was coordinating. Um, so that was more my speed. But yeah, that first year I was a doozy . Helena (05:02): It’s funny, I actually taught kinder my first year too. I think it’s a right of passage. . Yeah, Brittany Blackwell (05:07): , I think it might be. Helena (05:10): Um, so I noticed you said that you would rate the overall experience at three. What was the hardest thing you would say about that first year that made you feel overwhelmed? Brittany Blackwell (05:18): I think just not being prepared. I feel like teacher prep programs don’t, they, they give you this kind of like, very standardized way of this is how you’ve gotta run a classroom. These are the classroom management strategies, all of these different things that make sense in general, but may not work or make sense to you as an individual. And so for me, it was not being prepared to be authentically myself in the classroom. I felt like I was having to be another person in order to show up in my classroom and do what good teachers do. Um, so that was probably why the experience was not so great for me because I didn’t feel like I was prepared to be myself. Helena (06:10): Yeah. How would you say you overcame that? Like, at what point did you realize that you could be authentically yourself as a teacher? Brittany Blackwell (06:18): Um, I think that that happened probably, I would say about five years ago, . Um, I taught for about six years before I even started to realize that I didn’t even know who I was as a person anymore. Um, because I had gotten sucked into this idea of, well, good teachers, they look like this, they sound like this, they act like this. And so I didn’t wear my nose ring. I hid my tattoos. I used this very, I know this sounds weird, but I used this really cookie cutter voice that wasn’t me. Like, it just, it wasn’t me. And the kids knew that because I was not having those relationships with the kids that I have now, like it now that they know me and how I am, and I know me, um, I’m way, it’s way easier to make those connections, make those relationships. Not only with my students, but my colleagues. Um, really everybody in the school now knows. Okay. Like, that’s Brittany. But before that, it was just like this idea that I had to be a certain way and that just really didn’t work for me. Helena (07:36): Yeah. What do you feel like was a pressure or what caused you to feel like you couldn’t be authentically you in the classroom? Brittany Blackwell (07:44): I think just the outside pressure of, I just realized I didn’t answer your question before . No, Helena (07:54): You’re fine. I like where this is going. Keep going. No. Brittany Blackwell (07:57): Uh, like, I think that, what was your question? Sorry. Because I got stuck that I didn’t answer that one. Helena (08:03): , what makes you feel like you couldn’t be authentically you? Like what was the outside pressure causing you to feel like you couldn’t be authentically yourself in the classroom? Brittany Blackwell (08:13): I think it was just the outside pressure of people in general. Pe the way that people see teachers. Um, the way that even in my teacher prep program, um, they would say things like, well, you’ve gotta take your nose ring out. Like, I had my nose ring for since I was 16 years old. You know, it was just me. Um, and I, you have to dress a certain way. The things that they told me in the teacher prep program set me up to believe, oh, this is the way that it is. Even going through my student teaching, like what I think about it, I’m like, huh. All of the teachers that I worked with in my student teaching were a very particular type of teacher. Um, not to say that that’s bad, that’s them, you know, but I put on myself this belief from hearing it from my professors or hearing it from other people outside. (09:03): You know, teachers don’t do that. Teachers don’t do that. So when I saw this type of teacher, I thought, oh, that’s what I have to be, to be a good teacher. And the fact of the matter is that really did not, that wasn’t for me. But it’s also not for everyone else either. Like, you don’t have to be a specific type of teacher in order to be effective, in order to make growth in your classroom, in order to, you know, grow as an educator. You have to be yourself. You have to be who you are authentically. And I did that personally by just learning about myself, taking that time to really, okay, what do I like? I went to a therapist, um, when I was in like severe burnout. I went to a therapist and she was like, tell me about yourself. And I was like, okay, I’m a teacher and a mom. (09:57): Like, I literally had no other thing to say about myself because I didn’t know. I had no idea. I’m, she’s like, well, what hobbies do you have? Hobbies? Hmm. Um, , momming and teaching. Like, I don’t know. And I feel like that’s again, another piece that teachers and teacher prep programs, they don’t really focus on that they don’t focus on. Well figure out what you like, what do you like about teaching? What do you think you’re gonna like about teaching? What do you want to enjoy about teaching? What is your favorite thing to do when it comes to these classes where we have to do classroom management and making these lesson plans? Which one’s your favorite? Oh, you like making creative lesson plans? Well, that’s gonna be like what you wanna focus on. You wanna focus on getting your energy from that because you have to have something that’s going to energize you and such a very difficult, um, teaching profession, you know? Helena (10:58): Yes, absolutely. I a hundred percent agree with you about the authenticity. For example, I had my nose ring and I had bright red hair mm-hmm. . And as soon as I got my teaching, um, job, my first one, I dyed it to Brown because that’s what everyone does. And yeah, I agree that it feels like we can’t be authentically us when we first walk in mm-hmm. . It’s definitely a journey. Yeah. Why did you start teaching? I like asking this question and seeing if I am similar as to why you started teaching in the first place. Brittany Blackwell (11:28): That’s a really good question, , because what I started doing was I, for, from the time I was little until I got to college, I said I was gonna be a lawyer. I was gonna be an attorney. That’s what I was gonna do. I was gonna be a politician. I’m gonna do this. I’m gonna go to Harvard Law School. That is what I’m doing. I watched way too much legally, blonde and . Then I got to college and I realized, this is really boring, and this is really, I at the time was like, this is not me, you know? And what I did was I started working in a, um, an afterschool program, and I started working with kids, and I was like, wow. Like I really enjoy hanging out with kids and actually getting to help them, like to watch that little spark that they have. (12:20): Like when they get something, when they finally get something, it like lights me up. And really to this day, that still happens that way. Like, but it happens even more like than before because now I’m teaching teachers and I can see that happen with teachers too. You know, like, I can see that light bulb moment go off where they’re like, ding, ding, ding. Like, this is, this is what I’m supposed to be doing, or this is how you do it. And that feeling to me that I helped somebody to reach that point is amazing to me. Like, I, I love that feeling. Helena (12:58): Yeah. The teacher, that spark is everything that light in their eyes. Mm-hmm. , I feel the same way. Brittany Blackwell (13:03): Mm-hmm. . Helena (13:04): So can you name a time that you first felt burnout? Or do you remember, recall the first time that you realized, okay, Mamie, when I’m facing is burnout? Brittany Blackwell (13:15): Oh, well, probably about the time, see what happened with me was that I wasn’t just burned out professionally. I was, but I was also burned out personally. And I think that sometimes they can either be like comorbid where they’re happening together or one causes the other. And I can’t really tell you which one it was. Um, because I had lost my la I had a lack of boundaries. I didn’t, I had lost my identity. I was constantly tired, exhausted, fatigued, and anybody could have told me, you know, oh, well you feel that way because you’re a new mom. Like, I had my first daughter and then second daughter, my second daughter, that’s when it happened, um, where I was just at the end of my rope. Um, I was also going through a divorce. Um, and that year, as luck would have it, like I had the most challenging class that I’ve ever had. (14:16): They were amazing kids, but I, they were so challenging and I felt like I didn’t have the energy to give them, like, I could not come up with anything. I, I couldn’t, my fuse was short. Um, I wasn’t acting like myself. Like, I couldn’t put on that face. That was when I realized like, hey, I need to be a little bit more authentic because I couldn’t put on that face, I couldn’t put on that mask where I was like that teacher. And it was like this realization in that therapy appointment that I had that it was like, I really need to get to know who I am. Like what do I stand for? What do I like? What do I, what am I good at? What am I not really good at? And how can I use my strengths to kind of overcome that? And really just the knowledge or the self-awareness that I was dealing with all of these things all at one time. It was like, th something’s gotta change and it’s gotta be me because it can’t be everything else. Like everything else is going to crap. No, no, no, no . Something’s going on internally that I need to fix. Helena (15:31): Yeah, absolutely. So in the moment when you’re looking and realizing that it’s myself and I need to start falling in love with myself again, what were some of the boundaries, I heard you say boundaries, some of the boundaries that you felt like you weren’t honoring, and what did that feel like for you? Brittany Blackwell (15:48): So the boundaries that I didn’t have were, I felt like I, because I like that spark, I guess. Um, and that’s just a new realization that I just had right now. But I was very codependent on if I can’t fix this person’s problem. So for instance, I’m special ed teacher, so if my student is really struggling with something and I can’t help them, then I felt terrible about it. I felt like I was worthless. I wasn’t doing what I was put here to do. And so one of the boundaries that I had to put up was that all of these things about this is, this is an emotional boundary, but like all of these things about somebody else have nothing to do with me. And so if their feelings about themself or their struggles are starting to impact me, then I need to step away and come back when I’m cleared out. (16:47): Um, that’s just an emotional boundary that I had to set. Um, and that, that really, honestly, that also impacted my previous marriage. Like, I thought that I had to fix the problems when it wasn’t my problems to fix. Um, I could totally be a supporter in that moment, but I couldn’t fix those problems. Um, another boundary that I had to set was I was constantly, like, as a new mom, I was after school all the time. I had left my position as a, um, special education coordinator because I wanted more time with my family, yet I was still staying after school, coming in early, um, just to get the things done that I needed to get done, or I thought that I needed to get done. And so I had to set it up where, no, now it’s four o’clock every day I leave, whatever doesn’t get done, just doesn’t get done. (17:39): And later I actually came up with ways to automate and, and simplify what I was doing in the classroom so that they didn’t take up that much, much time that I did have the time that I needed to take in order to get some of those things done that I felt like I needed to. But just that time boundary was another one. Um, and then the other boundary that I set during that time period was, um, not letting people’s opinions of me get the best of me. Um, because I, again, like I’ve said it probably a hundred times during this podcast, but I, I lost myself. Like I didn’t know who I was because I was trying to be what everybody else wanted me to be or how I thought everybody wanted me to be. And so I had to put boundaries on what people’s opinions were and what I allowed them to say to me about me. Like, if you’re not going to say something positive or like a positive criticism, like I need to do A, B, or C, what do you think about that kind of thing, that’s okay, I’m okay with that, but when you’re telling me I need to do this, it’s like, hmm, no, I need to, I need to tell you. No, that’s just not for me. Thank you though. You know, like just not necessarily a negative or mean way of saying it. Just no , no. Helena (19:05): That’s such a hard skill to learn too, saying no. Mm-hmm. , I don’t know about you, but that one takes the longest. I feel that confidence. Brittany Blackwell (19:12): Yeah. Um, Helena (19:13): A lot of gold things here and I mean, oh, we could talk for hours. Um, I heard you say about a time boundary as far as leaving work on time. You had some tips. If I was a first year teacher or I was just walking into the classroom and I’m starting to realize like, look, I have my identity as a mom or a family member and I have my identity as a teacher, but I need to start creating this time boundary. What’s like the first step you would take if you were to go back? Brittany Blackwell (19:43): If I were to go back, the first step that I would take is I would figure out what I would time block first. I would see in my day what times I have. And so some people have, you know, like only one short little planning period, that sort of thing. And really cramming all of that really doesn’t make a lot of sense, but creating a system for that. So what works for me is I have specific days of the week that I do specific tasks. And that makes sense to me because that, the way that my day is set up now, it may not be set up like that for everybody, but for me it is. And I have two planning periods, which is like golden fabulous, amazing. And I’m so thankful for that. Um, but one of those is a lunch. And I typically don’t take a whole 45 minutes to eat lunch. (20:36): So 15 minutes, eat lunch, 30 minutes here, here’s what I’m doing right now. Um, and over time that every Monday I am, you know, checking for any out of date IEPs or when new IEP is due, um, or on Fridays, I lesson plan just makes sense to me because then I don’t have any time to sit there and Pinterest for hours. Um, cuz I would do that and . So really just time blocking and then figuring out a system that works best for trying to get all those things done. But realizing that you’re the to-do list is never going to end. It’s always gonna be there. There’s never going to be a moment where you’re like, I am completely done. No, that’s not gonna happen. , Helena (21:24): I agree with the Pinterest thing. I used to do the same thing. Brittany Blackwell (21:27): Yes. Hours, hours on Pinterest. Helena (21:29): Yes. And I think I, you know, I completely agree with you setting an intentional schedule. Mm-hmm. , it can be the difference between staying hours and being productive or maximizing your time a little more. Brittany Blackwell (21:41): Yeah. So Helena (21:42): In that moment when you realized that you didn’t know yourself and you wanted to start taking action, what was the first thing you started doing? What was the first step you took towards that journey? Brittany Blackwell (21:53): Going to therapy. Um, having somebody who was a non-biased person. I, I feel like sometimes people think that therapy is such a, like, it’s so, it’s so taboo in some, in some places and sometimes, and so it feels like a weakness that you’re going to a therapist. But in all reality it was like in those sessions that I would have with her, she wasn’t really doing anything. She was asking me questions and I was becoming aware. I was realizing these things about myself or about the situation and it was like little light bulb moment. She would just ask me questions. She was never telling me anything to do. , um, which I have now. I’ve had a therapist that’s told me what to do, but at that point in time she was just asking me questions and then I started journaling and really kind of getting to the root of why I felt the way that I did, like what was working and what wasn’t for me personally. (22:58): And just taking that journey and self-discovery for me really allowed me to see a lot of the strengths that I had, um, that I wasn’t really using. Um, which I think is another big part of why I was burned out too. Um, not just overextending myself or trying to people please and all of that, but not allowing myself to flow naturally what my gifts were, what my, what my strengths were. Um, and really recognizing those was pretty powerful for me. Um, but journaling for me was just a, a big thing that I did and it evolved over time. So originally it was like me asking myself questions about myself or writing things that were not working or were working and then it kind of like transformed into this, what’s my game plan? Like, what do I want this to look like? And then I started like vision casting or vision planning, um, which I talk a lot about like on my podcast and um, I have a whole freebie for it. But that was like one of the things, it was like, wow, what do I want this to look like? What, what am I doing this for? And really connecting with those pieces of myself changed the whole trajectory of me teaching. Helena (24:21): Wow. That’s powerful. So, um, make sure to give me that freebie and I will put it in the show notes. Brittany Blackwell (24:27): Yeah, absolutely. Helena (24:29): For those of us that don’t know in general what vision planning and vision casting is, could you give like a quick summary of what it is? Brittany Blackwell (24:38): Yeah. So vision planning is basically, so I don’t like the idea so much of setting goals. Um, I like to reframe them because our brain typically, um, sees them as a threat. Um, if, if we’ve said, oh, we’re gonna set this goal or we’re gonna set this New Year’s resolution, right? Our brain sees it as a threat and it sends off a stress response at our bodies and I don’t want that. So and, and kind of taking it a different direction. Vision planning is where you’re looking at what you want it to look like. What do you want out of a situation? What do you want your life to look like? Um, and really becoming hyper-focused and hyper aware of what it is that you are going for without making it sound so much like a goal, but more as a vision. So that when you, like I have my vision board on my phone, I also have a different vision board on my laptop and they’re like cues to my brain that really remind me why I’m doing the things that I’m doing on my phone. Like it’s my kids, my family. It also has like, don’t wait for an opportunity. Create it like different things like that that really remind me every time I pick it up or every time I open a laptop, these are the things that you’re working for. This is what you want to do or this is how you want to feel. Because feeling is a huge piece of actually getting out and doing that action. Right. Helena (26:11): Wow, that’s powerful. So what’s some results that you’ve seen? Has this changed your life in teaching or in your personal life? What are some of the transformations you’ve seen? Brittany Blackwell (26:20): Yeah, so in my personal life, this is a really weird story, but I’m gonna tell it anyways. Um, so when I began journaling and vision planning, I didn’t know my husband at the time. This is gonna sound really weird, um, but it’s also really true. So I, in July of 2020, I wrote a journal entry and it was basically saying everything that I wanted in a relationship. Um, I, I was divorced, I had two kids and I knew it didn’t work right, , I know exactly what didn’t work, but I didn’t wanna focus on all of the negative things. If you focus on all of the negative things, you’re just gonna stay stuck in a pattern of negativity. So I wrote it as if I’d already, I was already with the love of my life, I wrote down everything, literally everything that I could think of that I would want as it, as it if, as if it had already happened. (27:18): So my husband was going to be loving, caring, funny. Um, he was like, I’ve showed it to my husband now cuz now I have this husband and it’s that person. Um, but I did that in like all different aspects. It wasn’t just in relationships. I did it with like starting a business, um, changing my business. Cause actually I had a business, but I changed it into being more actionable content for teachers. Um, and, and with my teaching, like I now have like on my school laptop, I have a vision board that has all of the things that I’m working towards with teaching. What it’s reminding me of is I know I, everybody hates this phrase right now, but my why, why am I doing this? Why am I waking up every morning and going to school and teaching these kids? Why am I doing that? And so it’s different pictures, different quotes, different things like that that really remind me of why I’m doing what I’m doing. So even in those really tough moments, I have that to look at. Helena (28:25): That’s powerful. I’m really glad you shared that story about your husband. I actually did something similar. I shared a story or really with my dad what I wanted my future husband to be like. And I married Kyle, so here we are. Brittany Blackwell (28:38): . Yes. I love that. That just gave me go Helena (28:41): . Yep. So not weird at all. I’m right there with you. Um, so a lot of good things here. If I were a teacher who’s like, you know what, I think I’m right there with you, or how you used to feel, I’m feeling burned out. What would you recommend the first steps or some actionable tips they could do? Brittany Blackwell (29:01): Yeah, so one of the first things that I would recommend is I would say that I don’t believe that, you know, burnout prevention or burnout recovery is a one size fits all thing. Um, what works for one person may not really work for another person. And to be honest, that’s why I created my signature framework for burnout, recovery and resilience. And I call it the individualized ed care framework. Um, because I believe that every teacher is unique. We all have different strengths, different weaknesses, different preferences. So giving these one size fits all strategies and things like that really aren’t going to help support educators. So inside the framework, um, there’s six stages and steps that we go over to really help and find what works for us as individuals so that we’re not overextending ourselves so that we are not getting completely stressed out. So the first step, um, is really evaluation. (29:56): And I’m not gonna go into every step here, but the first thing I would recommend is discover our why or the triggers for our current stress or our unique burnout cycle. Um, so this means taking like 15 minutes, making a list of all the things this year, the semester, or even like just the last month or week that really stressed us out and really getting clear about that, thinking about the things that you’re really stressed considering for the upcoming year. Even don’t limit these things though to like school situations because as you heard from my story, , like oftentimes our out of work experiences can impact our burnout at work as well. Um, so you can add any specific emotions to the list, you can categorize them into similar situations, but really the purpose of this exercise is just to make yourself aware of all the things that may have previously or you anticipate caused you to not in your stress cycle or perpetuate that stress cycle. (31:01): And once we kind of have those root causes, which I’m gonna be honest, like there can be a whole lot, um, we can then begin to kind of look deeper and take action that can mitigate that stress from those specific causes. The second thing that I would recommend is to develop healthy coping mechanisms. And I go way more in depth like in my actual framework, but to kind of give something actionable you can do today, the most important development that you can make is just to develop a healthy coping mechanism to manage that stress and prevent that burnout. Um, this can include exercise, meditation, deep breathing, other exercises that really help you to relax, activate that parasympathetic nervous system and really reduce your stress levels. So all of those things that set us, set our bodies up for appropriately processing that stress that is negatively impacting us. (31:57): Um, and then the third thing is to look back from that evaluation, that recognition of your stressors and start setting those boundaries. Boundaries are super important for preventing burnout and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. And this can include just setting those limits on work hours, delegating tasks, saying no to unnecessary commitments. Um, all of those types of things. I can tell you this though, the absolute number one thing that is not going to get somebody outta burnout is telling themselves that it’s just gonna be okay. That’s really not gonna cut it. And I’ve always hated it when people would say, well, just don’t think think that or just remind yourself it’s gonna be okay. You know, there’s a reason that that doesn’t work. The fact is that really completing the stress cycle is not a, it’s not an intellectual decision. Um, it’s really a physiological shift. Like we don’t have to tell our lungs to keep breathing. We don’t have to tell our stomach to digest food. You know, our body’s gonna do what it wants to do. So you can’t really get out of burnout or complete the stress cycle through deliberate choice. You have to give your body what it needs to complete it in order to do what it’s designed to do. Helena (33:16): Yeah. That I feel like when you just tell yourself everything’s gonna be okay, it’s almost like invalidating how you’re feeling. Yes. Not honoring it. And then you wonder why later it comes back up for you. Yes. But he is charged of this actually. So Brittany Blackwell (33:30): Yes. Helena (33:31): Going back to the awareness phase, what, what are some questions we can ask ourselves to kind of, you know, get ourselves thinking what’s causing us stress? So if I were to like journal, what are some prompts I could think about or start journaling on? Brittany Blackwell (33:46): So there’s three main prompts that I recommend everybody to do first starting out. Um, the first one is to think about what exactly your stressors are. Like what is stressing you out? Like label all of them. Is it your family? That’s okay. I mean, honestly, things like that can stress you out. Um, really just making a list of everything that’s stressing you out and then what you’re doing about it. Like what are you doing about it right now? Are you just hoping that it’ll go away? Are you Netflix and chilling because you’re like, oh this is, this is gonna just all go away on its own. That’s called disassociating and that’s not gonna work. Um, and then the third thing is to like, ask yourself what you could do to help with your family situation. Like for me lately, um, I’m just being honest, my family is kind of stressing me out. (34:40): We have a lot of kids and a lot of kids doing a whole bunch of different things and it’s the holidays. And so even yesterday I took out my notebook. I’m like, okay, what is not working right now? What is not working well, it’s not working is these kids . These kids are constantly pulling out toys and they’re never putting them away. So what can I do? Like, what am I doing right now? Well, I’m just hoping that they’ll figure it out that all these toys are all over the floor, right? And that’s not working. So what can I do going forward? Well, I’m actually gonna create a system in my, like how I do with teaching now in my house. And every day at a certain time, my kids are gonna know this is the time that we’re cleaning up our toys. We’re getting all of these things up so that they have that they have that routine ready for them, right? (35:32): We do this in our classrooms all the time, but it’s hard to do at home. Um, and then they’ll know that, I’ll know that I’ll feel better about it. There won’t be minute toys on the floor and eventually it may be difficult at first, but eventually it’ll just become part of the routine and then that won’t be a problem anymore. You could do the same thing with like journaling. If you’re not really a journaler and you’re like, okay, well she’s talking about journaling, she’s talking about doing these things. What can you, what can I do differently? Well create just a 10 minute time every day. Block it out in your calendar, 10 minutes today, this is what I’m doing, and try it for two weeks. It may not do anything, but then again it might change everything. You know, Helena (36:17): I love that it may not do anything, but it may change everything. Mm-hmm. , I feel like there’s this, I don’t wanna say stigma, but people feel like self-care and wellness is all like a, you try something and it works, but I feel like a lot of people don’t talk about how it’s kind of just one big experiment. Brittany Blackwell (36:37): It is, it is one big experiment. Like, and you know, there’s this negative connotation around self-care lately. Like somebody I, I’ve even said it too, like you can’t self-care your way outta burnout. No you can’t. But you can regulate your nervous system and regulating your nervous system is half the battle and actually making progress towards burnout recovery. Um, and like for me, I tried 512 different things and different things worked at different times for me. But when I created a system that actually would allow me to evaluate, okay, what’s gonna work for me right now? Like that, this kind of, the whole purpose of my, my framework was I was like, you know what, nobody knows what they’re supposed to do. You get this self-care menu at a, at a professional development and they’re like, yeah, go do some self-care. You know, and you do ’em and you don’t feel any better. (37:32): You know, cuz you’re adding more to your plate. You’re not really taking things off of your plate in order to make room for yourself. Um, number two, you don’t really know until you know, your personality type, your values, your vision, all of those different things. You don’t really know what’s gonna work for you in that moment. And so what worked for you 10 years ago or five years ago or one year ago, may not be what you need in this current moment. And that’s okay. It’s okay to change things up. It’s okay to, you know, try something new even if it sounds kind of kooky or weird, you know, just to see, you know, over two weeks, over a month, does this work for me? Oh crap, it does. Look at that. You know? Helena (38:15): Yeah. I feel like it’s definitely a journey, not a destination. It’s not like one day your life is magically fixed and everything’s rainbows and butterflies. It’s very Brittany Blackwell (38:22): Absolutely Helena (38:23): Like a journey of falling in love with yourself again. At least that’s how Brittany Blackwell (38:26): I see it. Yeah, I agree. Like that you can’t, it’s not a destination. It’s like that. Um, it’s like that Buddhist quote about happiness. Like happiness is not like a de it’s not what you will have. You won’t have this special moment where everything from that point on is happy. You’re gonna have these s and flows and you kind of have to just recognize, hey, this is, this is the season that we’re in. Next season will be better or I’m gonna change things up and this is how I’m gonna change for next season to be Helena (39:00): Better. Yeah. So if I was a teacher who is contemplating going to therapy, what would you tell me if I was on the fence about it? Maybe I’m a little nervous about therapy and how the whole process is. Brittany Blackwell (39:14): Well, nowadays it is super easy to get therapy, um, because now they have online therapists. And while that seems weird, it’s let, especially for us in our generation or new teachers coming in, they’ve done this. They, they did classes on Zoom. They’ve, they are, they’re aware of technology and how it works. Um, there’s this website called Headspace, and I actually have like a, a code for that that I can send to you that you can give to your, um, your subscribers. But it’s amazing because you don’t ever have to worry about when it’s gonna fit into your schedule. You don’t have to worry about, you know, well there’s gonna be this commute time to and from my therapist office. Or even if you have therapists near you nowadays, it is kind of difficult to get in to a therapist, like in person. And so sometimes it’s just easier to have that person that’s online. (40:10): Um, but going to a therapist is not as scary as it sounds. It, it’s not a, it’s not somebody judging you about what you’re doing or what you’re not doing. Like the whole idea of that profession. Think about it. Like if that teacher, or if that therapist is a teacher, like they got into that profession because they wanted to help people. They wanted to help people change their mental health, fix their issues, or, you know, really come up with a plan that’s gonna work for them. And when you change your mindset about what a therapist is to like, how you see yourself as a teacher, a teacher may have gotten a teaching because they wanted to help kids, right? Like, I don’t know any teacher that would’ve gotten into teaching for any other reason. Uh, but really changing your mindset about going and seeing a therapist is kind of crucial in doing that. But nowadays it’s so easy to get into a therapist because there ha they, there are online therapists. Helena (41:14): Yeah, I agree with you. And I know when I first started going to therapy too, there was, like you said, the stigma or it’s taboo and it’s this bad thing. It’s not, it’s so eye-opening. Yes. And a lot of the times it’s just them saying exactly what, you know, it’s just bringing it to that surface. Mm-hmm. . So I agree, if you are thinking of it, definitely highly recommend. Um, and if you have had bad experiences, I don’t know if you’ve had a bad experience, but there may have been, you know, people you didn’t click with, try to find someone else because yeah, there’s definitely someone out there for you that’s gonna help you change your life. Yes. So, um, if I were a first year teacher, um, or I, yeah. If I were a first year teacher, what would you recommend I focus on in 2023? Brittany Blackwell (42:02): Um, the number one thing that I would recommend focusing on in 2023 is getting clear about your boundaries. Like really, like, just going hard on the boundaries. Like really just being aware of your energy boundaries, your time boundaries, all of these different things so that you can kind of boundary work not only kind of helps you get out of burnout, but it also prevents burnout. You know, like if you’re really focused on okay, this one section of your life and you set a boundary there, it’s like it can’t get past it, right? And really learning to just say no when somebody asks you to do something or to say, Hmm, let me think about that and I’ll get back with you if you’re really not sure. Give it that, um, that 24 hour period where you’re allowing yourself to kind of assess are you available for that? Do you have the capacity for that? Do you, you know, if somebody’s asking you to do something, you don’t wanna just immediately say, yes, yes, I can do that. Sure, I can do that. Um, you wanna give yourself that time to be like, Hmm, do I have the time? Do I have the energy? And then kind of respond accordingly. You know what I mean? Helena (43:19): Yeah, absolutely. If I wanted to learn more about your six step framework, where would I go? Brittany Blackwell (43:26): So, um, you can find me. I love connecting with other educators, especially those who are like overwhelmed looking for ways to kind of break the cycle of burnout, really reignite their passion for teaching. So if the listeners wanna learn more from me, you can find me on Instagram. I am at Teaching Mind, body and Soul or TikTok at Miss Princess Teach. Um, but I also have my podcast, the Resilient Teacher Podcast. And, um, my individualized educa program, if you catch it, it’s i e p, like how we do for our students . But that is also on my website, the te um, at teaching Mind body and soul.com. Um, my podcast, the Resilient Teacher Podcast, I really wanted to change the narrative around resiliency because I felt like that was getting like a really bad rap. Um, and it was using, it was being used to like gaslight teachers into not recognizing what’s kind of wrong with our system. (44:18): So I, you know, I can’t tell you how many times I heard, well, you need to be more resilient in some like, really crappy situations. So the goal of my podcast is really to remind teachers that they are already resilient and lead them into making the change that we need to see in the system of education because it’s kind of broken. And the podcast is also for overwhelmed educators who wanna get the support, the tools, the mindset to reduce teacher burnout and keep teaching sustainable. Um, and I have a new episode go live every Tuesday, and I go in between with like how-to types and burnout, recovery expert interviews. I talk all about the six step framework all on there. Um, so yeah, if there’s any teachers out there who are struggling with stress burnout, just overall sustaining their career, um, DM me, come hang out with me seriously. Like, I like to chat with other teachers about burnout, their journey, all that good stuff Helena (45:15): We do here too. Awesome. Well I’ll get all those links from you and I will put ’em in the show notes as well. So go ahead and look down below with you, our listener, and you wanna connect with Brittany. Brittany, thank you so much for joining us. It was a pleasure to have you and I definitely learned a lot. Yes. And I know the listeners did too. Brittany Blackwell (45:32): Yes. Thank you so much for having me. Helena (45:35): Of course.[/su_spoiler]
Connect with Brittany Blackwell:
- Website: http://www.teachingmindbodyandsoul.com
- Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/teachingmindbodyandsoul
- TikTok: http://www.tiktok.com/@msprincessteach
- Website: http://www.teachingmindbodyandsoul.com
- Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/teachingmindbodyandsoul
- TikTok: http://www.tiktok.com/@msprincessteach
- Vision Planning Freebie: http://www.teachingmindbodyandsoul.com/vision
Recognize that Getting Out of Teacher Burnout Isn’t a One Size Fits All
One of the first things we might be tempted to do, is google strategies on how to get out of teacher burnout. While yes, you can find helpful strategies on the internet, not all strategies work for each person.
That’s why it’s so important to find a framework that’s unique to you. All teachers are just as unique as our students. That’s why following a framework and implementing the strategies that works for you is a sure way of getting out of teacher burnout.
Evaluating Your Situation
After you recognize that getting out of burnout isn’t going to be a cookie cutter process, you will want to evaluate your specific situation. Brittany Blackwell recommends discovering your “why” in order to keep your priorities in line. One way you can accomplish this is through vision planning (grab Brittany’s free guide by clicking here!).
Another strategy she recommends is uncovering your current triggers that are leading you to feel stressed. You can uncover this through journaling or speaking to a counselor. Another important thing to point out is you want to pinpoint your specific teacher burnout cycle.
How does burnout come up for you and what phase of that cycle are you in. All of these are important aspects to building that awareness phase of getting out of teacher burnout.
Develop Healthy Coping Mechanisms
Now that you have identified different triggers, it’s important to take action so that getting out of teacher burnout becomes that much easier. One way to do this is to develop healthy coping mechanisms.
Brittany recommends coming up with a habit that will help minimize stress. This could be exercise, deep breathing, journaling, meditating. All of these are great coping mechanisms that are a huge asset to getting out of teacher burnout.
Look Back at Your Stressors and Create Boundaries
In order to stay out of burnout, you need to put systems in place to prevent it from happening again. One way to accomplish this is to incorporate boundaries. Some examples of these boundaries include setting work hours, delegating or saying “no” to doing certain tasks, or agreeing to unnecessary commitments.
Overall, it is vital to take intentional steps to completing the stress cycle if you are looking at getting out of teacher burnout.
As Brittany says:
“The absolute number one thing that is NOT going to get somebody out of burnout is telling themselves ‘it will all just be okay.’”Brittany Blackwell
She continues to say that the Stress Cycle isn’t a psychological choice but a physiological one. And if you are looking at getting out of teacher burnout once and for all, recognizing your pattern, and creating boundaries to support you is going to be your best chance.
So, I want to ask you, what steps are you going to take to get out of burnout?