Did you know during the school year, the average teacher in the U.S. spends over 1000 hours in the classroom? That is a lot of time spent in just one space. It’s no wonder teachers feel burnt out!
It made me start to wonder how much my classroom environment played a role in my teaching practice and in my students’ art class experience. My curiosity really peaked when I learned about the Reggio philosophy in AOE’s Choice-Based Art Education course. In the Reggio philosophy, the environment is viewed as a third teacher.
Could changing how my classroom looks and feels help spark my students’ learning, I wondered? What’s more, could it change how I felt about going to work each day?
If the thought of going back to your classroom is causing extra stress, or you just feel like you need a change, there are a lot of simple things you can do to switch things up!
Here are 3 Simple Ways to Fight Burnout This School Year
Bring the Outdoors In
Spending the whole day surrounded by fluorescent lights and industrial furniture can take a toll on you and your students. While setting up your classroom for this school year, take some time to think about ways you can incorporate natural elements into your classroom space and/or your lessons.
Here are three things to try:
Plants can really liven up a space. If your room has enough natural light, invest in some easy-to-care-for foliage that will lift your spirits and improve your air quality. Plants also make great additions to still life pieces!
Collect Other Natural Materials
Dried flowers, rocks, shells, and driftwood are a few examples of items that don’t need natural light to give your space a touch of nature. Use natural objects for creative play and building activities with younger students or incorporate them into nature-based lessons for older students.
Display some Nature Art or Photographs
Photographs and artwork showing the beauty of the natural world can transport your students outside your classroom even on the coldest winter days. When inspiration is low, sometimes even a bit of faux nature can feed your soul. Think Big! Purchase an art or nature tapestry or have your students paint one!
Experiment with Aromatherapy
Although they’re still being researched, many people find that using essential oils can help with focus or relax anxious minds. If this describes you, consider bringing a diffuser and your favorite scent to school to use after students leave for the day. Or, keep a little bottle of calming oil in your desk to dab on when you feel yourself getting stressed or tired as an easy pick me up.
Note: it’s important to remember schools often have fragrance policies due to allergies. Only use aromatherapy when there aren’t students present and check with your principal or nurse before using scents in your classroom.
Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude
According to a publication by Harvard Medical School, “Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” Practicing gratitude on a regular basis is a great way to cultivate a positive classroom environment.