Teacher Stress and Guilt – What it is and how to get rid of it

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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?

Have you ever felt a form of teacher stress or guilt? Here are some tips for how to grow, while still finding some balance in your life.

“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.

Teach On!

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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  1. I totally understand you Melanie. I am on the same boat. We need to remember to stay grounded and live in the moment. Remind yourself that you are doing your best and that your kids will love you and most of all remember how you made them feel in your classroom. ❤️

  2. Thank you so much for writing this post! Teacher guilt is a very real problem. I love looking for ideas on blogs, TPT, and other sites but always feel like the worst teacher when I’m finished. I wonder how on earth they manage to do everything that they do with all the themes, crafts, and games changing constantly! If I can squeeze in a craft every week or two I feel like I’m in in good shape. I have always been a progressive teacher pushing students to what they are ready for and can achieve, but lately I find that we are being told to shove concepts and skills down 5-year-old throats that aren’t developmentally appropriate. They are sucking the fun out of kindergarten and I have found myself working doubletime to not let that happen. There is so much work to be done after hours that I find myself envious of my husband and everyone I know whose job ends when they walk through their front door at night. I feel like there is always SOMETHING I should be doing for school, for this low child, etc. When I do things for me, I feel like a bad teacher. It needs to stop. When is it good enough? My students are learning, they are having fun, and yet I still feel like it’s never enough. It seems like it’ll never be enough. I have been striving to find more of a balance in my life but I am having such a hard time letting go of the teacher guilt.

  3. Sorry about the typo above. It should say “There is always something else to work on.” I am on my phone and I think it autocorrected and I missed it. I can’t figure out how to delete it and repost on my phone. Ooops!
    Great post regardless!

  4. This is a great post! Teaching is such a demanding profession. It is never done – never! There is shears something else to work on – always! But, we have to learn (me included) that it is OK to take time for yourself and your family.

    1. Thanks so much Suzanne! It is definitely hard to learn that it is ok to take time for ourselves and family – but it is so necessary!

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