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December 1, 2020

From: Denise K. Magner

Subject: The Quick Tip: How to Cope With Teaching Burnout

The stresses of pandemic life have left instructors feeling more burned out than usual.

Good teaching is emotional work, requiring faculty members to have reserves of patience and ingenuity that are all-too-often depleted, even in normal times. But teaching in a pandemic — struggling with new technologies and remote classrooms, not to mention the challenges of working from home 24/7 — means that many academics are feeling even more sapped than usual.

Faculty well-being is a pedagogical issue. Here's some tried-and-true advice that you might need to hear again in this difficult year:

  • Take time off, if only for an evening. From grad school on, academics are trained to feel like you should always be working. The lack of a 9-to-5 workday only contributes to that mentality. If you are able to work at any time of day, any day of the week, shouldn’t you be? But the negative effects of an always-on mind-set are real.
  • Remember that your job is a job — even if you love it. As an academic you are both blessed and cursed with a profession that aligns with your personal intellectual ambitions. Do your best to cultivate perspective — and outside interests.
  • Choose sleep over extra class-prep time. Sleep deprivation (which usually kicks in when people get fewer than seven hours of sleep a night) can lead to high levels of anxiety, poor decision-making, lack of energy, and lack of concentration. What is going to be more valuable to your students — that you went over the readings one more time, or that you are rested enough to be fully present and responsive in the classroom?

Continue reading: "4 Ideas for Avoiding Faculty Burnout," by David Gooblar

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Denise K. Magner is senior editor of The Chronicle’s advice section, which features articles written by academics for academics on faculty and administrative career issues.