Mamie Krupczak Allegretti is a regular reader and commenter to the blog. She wrote the following comment, which is good advice from a veteran to new and experienced teachers.

Anytime a person is burned out, demoralized and ready to quit his/her job, something is wrong. It’s not just that something is wrong with the way the institution is run (which there are many), but there can also be something wrong with the way the person is approaching the job.

Many teachers have what I call “Mamma bird syndrome.” They spend they time driving themselves into the ground giving and giving until they are exhausted. People commend them for outstanding work but inside they are tired and resentful.

If you want to be a teacher, it doesn’t seem that the craziness of the institution is going to change anytime soon. So if you really want to teach, you have to find ways to protect yourself, conserve and pace your energy, and lead a balanced life.

There are 3 rules to live by:

1. let go,

2. learn to say “no,” and

3. prioritize what you value.

What I am really getting at here is learning to create boundaries for yourself. Let go of things and situations over which you have no control and are not in your job description. Sure, there are days when you may be able to do more, but monitor yourself and your energy. Learn the boundaries of your energy and then decide what you are willing to give.

Learn to say no to extra duties and requests. Prioritize what you value. If you value excellent lesson plans, put your energy into that. But know that if you try to do it all, something will give and it will most likely be your health – mental and/or physical.

Your school day ends at a certain time. Keep to that time. If you have to work at home, set a boundary of say 45 minutes. You need to remember that this is a job and you need to have a life outside of school.

It sounds hard-nosed to say that, but it is the truth. If they had their way, the school district would want you to work 24/7. So it’s up to you, the teacher, to set boundaries. Teacher duties have increased over time because teachers have accepted them.

But think about it. Would you ask your doctor or lawyer to do things that were outside his or her job? We now want teachers to be parents, friends, therapists, mentors, counselors, mental health experts, financial helpers, etc. to students.

So, I’m not saying that teachers should never go above and beyond at times but when fatigue, resentment and a desire to flee show up, something in yourself needs to change. I think these are the biggest lessons young teachers (and even old) have to learn.