If you are reading this, you must be a preschool teacher teetering on burnout! You have come to the right place. These unrealistic goals for a preschool teacher are common goals we have given ourselves over the years, not thinking twice about the fact that they may lead to teacher stress and burnout. Read on to see how many of these unrealistic goals for a preschool teacher you have had and how they can lead to burnout.
What are the signs of burnout in early childhood teachers?
Do I really need to list this? If you are reading this, you know something isn’t right. You are feeling overwhelmed all the time. Like you can’t seem to get ahead. There’s little joy in your day. You might even have bursts of anger or tears. You experience the ‘Sunday Scaries’ on a regular basis. Some of you might even be dreaming of an exit plan.
Before you reach that point of burnout, take a moment to look at these unrealistic goals for a preschool teacher and consider how these goals may impact your life as an educator. I know they have at one point or another been part of my teacher goals.
7 Absolutely Unrealistic Goals for a Preschool Teacher Teetering on Burnout
1. Put your student’s needs first.
We are preschool teachers, we are not saints. Of course our students need us to make them a priority; but we all know ‘some of us’ (no I’m not looking at you), take that a little too far and put our student’s needs above all else, including our own physical and mental health. I speak from experience so no judgement there.
I remember being 36 weeks pregnant, sick with a sinus infection and still going into work because my preschoolers needed me!
Stop doing that … pleassssssssse! You are no good to anyone burnt out!
2. Make all your own amazingly beautiful resources.
I don’t know what it is about us preschool teachers having to make everything ourselves. Is it pride? Vanity? There’s so much admiration that comes from others when we make our own resources (and they must look amazing, of course!).
Let’s be honest here … We CAN’T make every single resource for our classroom. We physically can’t and that’s the truth! So stop killing yourself trying to do it all.
What’s wrong with buying a great resource you’ve seen on TpT? So what if you didn’t make it.
Why do we get that little bitty sense of shame when we click on that buy button on TpT or some other awesome teacher’s website shop? I mean I’m a seller on TpT and love sharing my own creations with my fellow teachers but I too still need to swipe away that twinge of guilt or shame every time I hit that buy button.
That’s gotta stop! We are sharing the load of teaching here and that’s a beautiful thing.
Now that we’re on to sharing resources, how about sharing resources with the teachers we work with? We all have cupboards filled with resources we have made over the years that we could share. I know, I too have been known to be a little precious with my resources in the past, but now I find joy in being able to help other teachers out and share the workload.
Set up a system where you can share your resources in a respectful way with the teachers in your year group.
One last thing about resources … How about using what’s provided for you?
Perhaps it doesn’t serve you anymore in its current format, but you could use it in a different way. Get creative.
3. Your classroom needs to look Instagram worthy.
I love Instagram classrooms just as much as you do. But if you are feeling overwhelmed, decorating your classroom doesn’t need to be on your to do list right now. It really doesn’t. What’s more important is the energy you bring into the classroom.
How does your classroom feel when people enter it? What people feel is the energy you bring into the space. Creating that sense of warmth can be achieved with a rug, some cute pillows, warm lighting and your smile! Remember that teacher friend!
4. Do it for the children; not the money.
Seriously? Why do we preschool teachers buy into this? I constantly hear this and wonder why this has to be an acceptable part of the job. Why can’t we be fairly compensated for the work we do? Why can’t we be upset about the fact that the pay DOES reflect how much we are valued by society? Why should we be ashamed or chastised for wanting more money? Yes, we do it for the children; but can’t we also lament the fact that we aren’t being fairly compensated?
Making money is important to me AND teaching children is also important to me. Why must they be mutually exclusive?
5. Work outside of your paid hours. It’s part of the job.
Put your hand up if you spend hours upon hours after a full day teaching prepping for the next day? We’ve all been there, especially the first few years of teaching. Spending wayyyyyy too much time outside of school hours consumed by my job was my slippery slope to burnout. Being passionate about your job is one thing but having it take over your life is an unhealthy thing and will lead to burnout!
I’m not saying never work past your contract hours. All I’m saying is don’t let the job take over your life.
Spend time with your friends and family. Go to the gym. Listen to that podcast. Play that guitar. Try and cook that delicious meal you saw on Instagram.
Be disciplined about how much time you will spend working outside of school hours.Set a time limit and stick to it!
6. Spend hours on Pinterest looking for the latest ideas.
If you are teetering on burnout, spending hours going down the rabbithole of Pinterest looking for the latest classroom trends is the last thing you need! There are a million Pinterest ideas you COULD try, but girrrrlllll, it isn’t that important right now!
Use that time to figure out how you are going to do this job while drawing those thick boundaries around yourself. You are the one who will have to hold up those boundaries, no one else is going to do it for you!
7. Do everything perfectly.
Put your hand up if you are a perfectionist. Teachers are perfectionists. That’s a fact. Don’t ask me why, but it’s true. I’ve got a whole other blog post about the lessons I learnt from being a perfectionist.
The problem with being a perfectionist in this teaching job is there is so much to do and if you choose to do everything perfectly and to your best ability every single time, you won’t be able to cope. It’s not possible.
What I figured out was that everything doesn’t have to be perfect. If you make a list of all the things that need to be done, think about to what degree each of these tasks need to be done.
Some things need to be done well, like a weekly email to families. Some things just need to be done, like a fire drill checklist that no one is going to see. Some things do need to be perfect, like an IEP report.
Everything does not have to be done with the same degree of effort and time and that’s okay. Give yourself grace.
Goals for a Preschool Teacher
Research shows that half the early childhood educators surveyed struggled with mental health and burnout. Not a surprise I’m sure. We see it around us all the time.
Setting unrealistic goals for yourself contributes to the stress you feel everyday. Being aware that these goals are unrealistic is the first step.
The next step is putting systems in place around you to buffer against those stressors that are inevitable.
Your students are so lucky to have you. A teacher who cares so deeply and passionately. If you are teetering on burnout, know you are not alone. Let go of these unrealistic goals you have as a preschool teacher and focus in on what really matters.
If you are a preschool teacher struggling with integrating social emotional learning into your preschool day, and need a little help streamlining the process, download my free guide to help you get intentional! 👇🏼
Strategies for Preventing Teacher Burnout in Early Childhood Education
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