We have probably all heard the term “mom guilt”. Have you heard the term “teacher guilt”? I believe teacher guilt is absolutely a real thing. It is something I have had to address hard within myself in the past year to attempt to live a less stressful and a more balanced life. So, what exactly is teacher stress or guilt and how do we get rid of it?
“Teacher Stress and Guilt” – What it is and how to get rid of it
Teacher stress and guilt happen when you feel like there is always more you want to do for your students, there just simply isn’t enough time. You feel guilty because “if only I could be like that one super teacher I know“… and “maybe I should be bringing more home or staying longer“… as well as, “does this make me a bad teacher if I don’t?”… and so on. This happens for nearly all teachers, trust me!
For me, it was things like this that were happening:
- Feeling guilty about trying to go home before 5 pm (even though that is still past “teacher time” – does that phrase make anyone else laugh?). I knew I could stay probably forever and keep making things even better, but was it at the expense of other areas in my life?
- Hearing from teacher friends and seeing on social media how many teachers spend their weekends in school, and feeling guilty that I stopped doing that a year ago (I used to be an every weekend teacher!) in order to bring some balance to my life.
- Remembering the days when I packed home enough stuff for five classrooms to work on. Then feeling like something is wrong with me because I don’t do that anymore (Or I try not to anyway!). Does that mean I am not caring enough?
- Seeing social media posts that are definitely inspiring and amazing, but then realizing maybe I don’t do all of those things. Wondering if what I am doing is enough – is it?
All these thoughts were swimming in my head causing me to feel guilty in some ways. Feeling like I wasn’t doing enough, even though I feel as though my life is already wrapped around teaching so much.
I needed to deal with these feelings so that I could continue to attempt a balanced life (Which I am finding never gets easier as a teacher!).
How to combat “teacher stress and guilt”
A lot of how I dealt with teacher stress and guilt was to not ignore it (because goals to be a better teacher are GREAT) but to change the way I talk or think to myself. For example:
- If I am tired and burnt out as a result of trying to be super teacher, then who is that helping? No one. This is something that I remind myself of when I feel like I should be coming home like a pack mule for the evening with school stuff.
- I remind myself that I never want to lose my teacher passion. I love teaching, I really do. Possibly more, now that it is a huge part of my life, but not necessarily my entire life. Something I used to think was that if it wasn’t my whole life then maybe I just wasn’t passionate enough. I have learned that when I am not doing teaching things 24/7, I am actually more passionate during the times that I am! (Because who can be super passionate when they are exhausted and burnt out?!)
- I think and laugh about the ways teachers can relate to each other. We’re all in this together.
Your passion for teaching is not conveyed solely through hours logged in your classroom. Repeat that. Repeat it again.
- While there is always more to do, my family has to come first. When I lived at school on the weekends I was missing out on important family time. Now, I am making my family a priority and it is really making me feel better all around.
- I love teaching and that right there is something to be said. I care deeply about my students – enough to also take care of myself. This allows me to give them my best every day.
Take care of yourself. Repeat that. Repeat it again.
- I compare myself only to myself (or I am trying to). I love to learn and I strive to always grow as a teacher, but comparing myself to others only makes me stressed out. No two teachers are the same and no one is perfect. We all bring unique strengths to our classrooms.
Do not compare yourself to other teachers. You are enough. Start with you and grow from there.
Have you ever felt a form of teacher guilt? How did you deal with it?
I am happy that this year I am trying to learn and grow, while still getting some balance. So, friends, teach on and remember – you are making a difference!
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