Burnout is a very real problem in both face-to-face and online educational settings. But for the latter, burnout is undoubtedly more common because of the many challenges that distance learning presents. Nevertheless, educators have a lot of options to prevent burnout from affecting their students, as well as themselves.
Here are some of the best ones:
1. Recognize the challenges of online school
Taking online classes can be just as difficult as, say, taking face-to-face classes for electrician trade qualification. Even though students don’t have to go through the hassle of commuting to and from school and spending hours sitting in a classroom, studying online is not as easy as one may think. Hence, recognizing the challenges of online school is the first step in preventing burnout for your students, particularly the fact that online school can be just as challenging as face-to-face classes.
The common challenges of online school are as follows:
- Technological difficulties (e.g. connectivity problems, unfamiliarity with technology, lack of resources)
- Distractions and time management problems
- Blurred lines between school life and personal life at home
- Low motivation
- Lack of in-person interaction
While some of these problems are unavoidable and difficult to overcome, teachers who are well aware of these challenges can better make accommodations for their students and help them overcome the problems that they may be facing with online learning. In this way, teachers can help prevent burnout as much as possible–as opposed to making the problem worse due to not being on the same page as their students.
2. Assign a reasonable amount of work
Just because students are studying online means they have all the time in the world to dedicate to schoolwork. Many online students have other responsibilities on their shoulders, be it household management, working full-time, or handling a business. Hence, online teachers should be rational and reasonable when assigning course work–yes, even if it’s all being done online.
Students can learn with two well-thought-out assignments just as well as they can with five. Moreover, they would have more time to work on assignments if they don’t have tons of it on their task list, making it easier for them to actually absorb the material instead of just flying through it to finish their work.
3. Establish an open avenue for communication
Let your students know that your communication lines are open for them both for school-related and personal matters. Many students are reluctant to ask for help when they need it and instead go through their problems on their own, which increases their risk for burnout aside from affecting their academic performance.
As an educator, you can help reduce the burden on students’ shoulders by establishing an open avenue for communication. Encourage your students to talk to you when things are getting overwhelming, as well as ask for help when they need it. You may not realize it without standing in their shoes, but doing this goes a long way for students who are having difficulty with the course work. It does not infantilize them–instead, it makes it easier for them to learn and achieve academic success, which is really the point of school whether online or not.
4. Encourage self-care and proper time management
Regular self-care and proper time management are the two most important keys to successful online learning. For this reason, encouraging your students to practice both of these activities can not only help them excel in schoolwork, but it’s also the best way to avoid burnout.
Remember that you don’t have to teach only what’s included in your syllabus–you can teach your students essential life skills such as self-care and time management as well.
How teachers can avoid burnout
Teachers are not immune to burnout, even when teaching online. Here are the best ways to avoid burnout as an educator:
- Eat right and exercise regularly–you can’t be at your best if you don’t take care of yourself physically
- Take regular breaks throughout the day. Don’t confine yourself to the office much less your chair.
- Work on your classroom management skills to avoid getting overwhelmed with work.
- Avoid doing work when it’s your day off. Let yourself get some real rest and much-needed personal time.
- Break the most difficult and time-consuming tasks into bite-sized pieces.
- Take advantage of your work-from-home set-up; work outdoors or go to a cafe.
- Establish work hours and avoid working beyond those hours. Get your work done during those hours to avoid working overtime.
- Engage in your hobbies and personal interests to get your mind off of work-related stuff for a while.
Online students and faculty are not insusceptible to burnout, even if the online school seems easier than face-to-face classes. But with these strategies, you can avoid burnout for both yourself and your students to make for a more productive, stress-free semester.