Published 19th February 2016
Teaching English as a Foreign Language is not like any other job. It can be challenging, exhilarating and frustrating, but it is always exhausting. Teaching even a couple of hours every day can be mentally and physically tiring for teachers, and considering that teachers are what holds lessons together, it is important that we are able to bring energy and passion into the classroom on a daily basis. Easier said than done, though, when you’ve spent ages prepping for lessons, marking tests and doing paperwork outside the classroom and your students are being needy and difficult inside the classroom.
In fact, burnout is a very real problem for TEFL teachers. Long days and lots of after-hours work mean that we lose out on valuable rest and relaxation time. Sometimes being a TEFL teacher intrudes into your life outside the classroom as well, meaning that you are constantly thinking about your next lesson or how best you can help you students. Looking after yourself physically and mentally is important not only for us and our sanity but also for the benefit of our learners.
So here are few a tips to maintain your motivation and keep yourself sane in the TEFL world.
1. Take a break
As hard as it may be, sometimes it’s better to do less. If you find you’re spending hours planning lessons, maybe you just need to put it all away and take a break. Go to the gym, watch a movie, have a cup of tea with a friend – do whatever you need to do as long as it doesn’t relate to TEFL.
There are loads of fantastic books relating to TEFL. Perhaps you would enjoy reading about other teachers’ experiences in other countries or maybe you like reading up on the latest research on EFL. It doesn’t matter. Find a book (or a blog) that interests you and spend a few hours reading. You will find that you will gain valuable tips, ideas and motivation for the classroom.
3. Change it up
If you feel like you’re in a bit of a rut, you probably are. Pick a day and decide to do lessons completely differently to how you normally would. Try a new approach or a new activity and you and your students will benefit from this breath of fresh air.
Looking after yourself is a necessary part of your job. If you are tired, unhappy or stressed you cannot be the amazing TEFL teacher you normally are. As teachers, it is especially important that we look after ourselves and our health in order for us to be effective teachers, so make sure you maintain balance in your life and avoid burnout, in order for you to keep up your motivation levels.