Posted by: Emily | April 15, 2010

Managing burnout

I teach my last class of the academic year in a few hours, a group of students in a biology and gender class. I’ve taught the class before, really enjoy the content, the professor’s terrific, etc. It’s an ideal class for me.

And I don’t wanna. I can’t wait for it to be over, can’t wait for the semester and the year to be over, if I never see another smartboard or malformed database query again in my life it will be too soon.

Slight exaggeration, but also kind of true. I want to be a good, critical, reflective instructor. But I really struggle with burnout, too. There’s a great chapter in Critical Library Instruction by Troy Swanson that tackles the question How do we employ critical teaching methods when students would rather be banking? Banking education can be easy for students and teachers, especially for those of us who know how to do it and do it well. Reflective engagement, willingness to fail and learn from failure, critical attention to the praxis moment in the classroom, all these things sometimes feel pleasurable, but also feel exhausting, particularly at this point in the semester.

So, how do y’all stay inspired and engaged? How do we recharge and refresh? How do we keep instruction, especially in courses that we’ve taught again and again, from getting old and stale? Who has tricks?

(I teach in three hours, so anything you can suggest between now and then would be helpful!)

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Responses

  1. No tricks from me, I’m afraid, and sorry that I missed the 3 hr window. But I’m feeling similar these days. I’ve had some really good, really un-banking classes recently, but I am also just beat from this semester (and we still have 3 wks of one-shots to go).

    On the bright side, I’ve been kind of down before all of the classes I’ve taught this week only to have them all go pretty well. Which is satisfying on the other side.

    It also sometimes helps me to remember that after I do a banking class I am much more exhausted than after a class in which the students were active and engaged and we all went with the inquiry flow. I don’t know what it is, maybe all that talking, or feeling like I need to cram millions of details into their heads, something like that. After a reflective class I may crash later, but for a while at least I usually feel enthusiastic and happy.

    Hope today’s class went well!

  2. Three more weeks of one shots! Aie Maura! And I thought this session was late!

    I experienced your bright side–the session went well. People learned things. We had an interesting conversation about a) truncation and b) when to use an encyclopedia and when not to. The student energy helped a lot. I think it’s good to remember that we’re not bringing the only energy into the room. Students are there too, thank god.

  3. Not sure if I have simple tricks for this, but to me, it seems the focus on your students is always “critical.” even in one-shot sessions, the more we learn about students, the more energy we gain. We may have taught the content millions of times but we have never taught them. They have unique needs. We need breaks to re-energize, but while we push forward to the break, we should not focus on content (which can be repetitive). Don’t lose them.


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