Preventing the Sunday Scaries

Preventing the Sunday Scaries

Maybe this is true for all 9-5 Monday-Friday jobs, but I definitely know it’s true for educators; Sundays, traditionally, have been for preparation, and if you’re not careful, you can spend your entire Sunday dreading the next day. I can speak to that feeling of existential dread. Like the sand is running out of the hour glass, and every action I take is just prolonging the inevitable: heading into work the next day. Recently, I found out that this feeling of impending doom has a name: Sunday Scaries.

Though it does still happen, I am happy to report that my instances of Sunday Scaries have decreased over the years, and now it rarely happens. I want to help others by sharing some techniques that helped me stay in the moment instead of worrying my Sunday away.

Because “Sunday Scaries” is not necessarily an academic term ( Though I found many news articles about it, I could not find peer reviewed academic studies) I decided to go with researching teacher burnout to see what science may be behind why I felt a decrease of stress and foreboding on Sundays. I believe that the source of Sunday Scaries is burnout. 

I thought that I was going to fill this blog post with practical solutions to how to get your work done before Sunday, but upon researching the topic, I realized that that wasn’t the real source behind my mitigation of burnout, and thus the cure to the Sunday Scaries. Here is what I found out.

What Causes Burnout?

Essentially, burnout occurs when your job demand is higher than your perceived resources to deal with the demand which leads to emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a lack of feeling personal accomplishment  (Camacho et al. 2020). When you feel like what you need to do is greater than your resources to do it, whether that is physical resources or emotional resources, burnout occurs. Though there needs to be more research on the predictors of burnout, it is known that many factors can play into the severity and occurrence of burnout. A teacher’s age, years of experience, coping self efficacy, and internal locus of control are all factors that can affect burnout. However, according to a 2020 study, the “most robust” of these factors are professional and emotional support (Camacho et al. 2020).

Now this study had some limitations. The teachers involved in the study were 90% white and 96% female which means that there is little in this study to speak to how race and gender affect burnout, but I do believe that there is value to be gained from these findings. If you couple these findings with the results of another study, you can see what may be at play. According to Pedditzi et al., “the most predictive variables of burnout … are interpersonal conflicts and the personal image teachers have of themselves. (2020)” So in my eyes, through strengthening relationships and prioritizing oneself, one can positively affect burnout by raising their physical and emotional resources to meet their demands thus getting our Sundays back.

How can we fix it?

  1. A note to school districts and school administrators

First, it is not completely up to the teacher to mitigate factors that lead to burnout. As I mentioned above, professional support is among one of the biggest predictors of teacher burnout, so providing resources for your teachers is imperative. Set up the master schedule where teachers have common planning time to network and make connections. Make sure that they have access to supplies such as paper and toner (if you’re a teacher, you know how important toner is), and make sure you coach teachers with love. Yes, our goal is continual growth, but if you are adding to their demands and not their resources, your efforts are counter intuitive. 

  1. Improving your personal image

In addition to professional support, it was also cited that a teachers’ self-image and interpersonal conflict are major factors in burnout (Pedditzi et al 2020). I believe this is the biggest factor that helped me to get rid of my Sunday Scaries.

Have a life outside of teaching

As I mentioned in my last blog post (linked bellow), things really turned for the better when I began to do things that were not related to my work. By expanding my identity beyond just teaching, I am able to cope with the stress of my job more because it is not the end all be all of Stephanie. Because I had a bad day doesn’t mean I have a bad life. Or even just because work was not ideal, doesn’t mean my entire day was bad, just a part, because I am way more than my job. Ironically, by not focusing on my job so much, I was able to be better at my job! See my blog post “How to Find True Rest” for resources on how to cultivate an image beyond teaching.

Positive Self Routine

I am going to preach this until I am blue in the face, but it has helped me so much, I cannot help it; my morning routine saved my life. The first thing I do in the morning is meditation or prayer, then I journal, then I start with work. This has been instrumental in getting my mind ready to take on the day and affirm that I am not a machine that jumps out of bed and starts pumping out work products. Yes, I know this is probably the 1000th time you have heard about meditation and affirmations, but it’s what has made a difference for me over the years.

I also know that many teachers need to be at work at the crack of dawn, so a morning routine might not be feasible. It doesn’t have to be in the morning, it can be at a later time, the important part is that you make time to connect with yourself and begin to orient your brain towards a positive self image

Professional Assistance

Though there are many ways for you to help yourself, sometimes we aren’t equipped to handle it on our own. Seeking help from a professional therapist can be instrumental to gaining tools to improve your life, and it is more accessible than ever with online options available. I would also check with your benefits department because sessions may be covered by your insurance. 

Give it Time

Though it is not cited in my research as a major factor, years of experience is still a factor. If you are a new teacher, and you feel like you’re drowning, you are not alone. I will say from my own experience, working as a mentor to first year teachers, and seeing growth throughout the years, that it does get better. Teaching is incredibly complex, and it may feel like you are ruining student’s lives but you’re not. You are learning and growing and that grace can be what gets you through.

  1. Improving your environment

Sometimes you just need to leave. Though there are many things we can do to change our self-image and improve our resources to meet our demands, sometimes the environment possesses too many demands for us to cultivate enough resources to cope with it. If a school is toxic beyond your mental and physical capacity, you do not have to feel guilty to find a better place. It is okay to seek another campus or even profession. Though my goal is to support as many teachers as possible to stay within the profession, I care about people first. When you have exhausted all of your resources, sometimes you need to change the demands.

Conclusion

So, in the end, Sunday Scaries is deeper than just deciding not to work on Sunday, or getting all your work done before you go home. That dread of going to work may mean that you are burned out. By focusing on improving your physical and emotional resources, you can begin to make steps to take not only your Sunday back, but also your life. 

THANK YOU!

I am so grateful for you! You are needed and loved. I hope you have a beautiful day and remember Mind, Body, and THEN and only then Classroom. 

Sources

Camacho, D. A., Hoover, S. A., & Rosete, H. S. (2021). Burnout in urban teachers: The predictive role of supports and situational responses. Psychology in the Schools, 58(9), 1816–1831. https://doi.org/10.1002/pits.22561

Pedditzi, M. L., Nicotra, E. F., Nonnis, M., Grassi, P., & Cotrese, C. G. (2020). Teacher Stress and burnout: a study using MIMIC modelling. Electronic Journal of Applied Statistical Analysis, 13(03), 739–757. https://doi.org/10.1285/i20705948v13n3p739

Procedures: Different routines to think through BEFORE the beginning of the year.

Procedures: Different routines to think through BEFORE the beginning of the year.

Many of us are stepping into new roles this year. Whether it is our first year teaching at all, or our first year at a new school, or our first at a new grade level, being intentional at the beginning of the year, before you ever see a student, can save you so much time, and mental sanity throughout the entire year. The best piece of advice I got when starting my teaching career was to think out my procedures and make sure they are clear and intentional. After 7 years of secondary teaching, I have a list of student facing procedures that I revisit, and adjust each year to fit my context. I also revisit this list before the start of the second semester when students come back from winter break. I am sharing in hopes that it will act as a resource for you when you are starting your next school year!

  • Entering  the classroom
    • What noise level do you want them to be at? 
    • What do they do when they first walk in? 
    • Should they borrow their supplies before class? 
    • Where can they find the warmup? Where are you while all of this is happening?
  • Exiting the Classroom
    • What noise level do you want them to be at?
    • What needs to be done before the bell to make sure the room is ready for your next group of students? Ie: trash picked up from the floor, materials turned in etc.
    • Are there daily deliveries that students need to return before they leave?
  • Bathroom Passes
    • In a perfect world, how often would you want to allow students to use the restroom?
    • How will you track restroom usage for documentation to identify patterns if need be?
    • Will a student helper be useful?
  • Borrowing supplies
    • Where in the room will the supplies be located?
    • How will students be held accountable for returning your supplies?
    • What time of the class period will you allow students to borrow the supplies?
    • Who will be in charge of making sure supplies are returned (maybe student helper?)
  • Late Work Policy
    • First, what is your district/campus policy on late work?
    • How will you go back and check late work? Will it be turned in in a different location?
    • How will students communicate special circumstances to you?
  • Turning in assignments
    • If you have paper assignments, where in the room will students turn in these assignments?
    • What time of the class period will students turn in assignments due? (before the bell ringer? Part of your exiting procedure?
  • Phones and technology
    • First, what is your school’s policy on cell phones?
    • Where will students store their devices durning you class. (I find that it is helpful for students to have options when it comes to their phones. I let students put it in their backpack, face DOWN on the top right hand corner of their desk, or in the lock box charging station)
    • What are the consequences for unauthorized use?
    • What are the rewards for responsible use?
  • Incentive System
    • What opportunities are you going to provide for students to gain positive feedback?
    • How are you going to track it?
    • Who is going to be in charge of tracking it?
  • Student Jobs
    • What opportunities are you going to have for students to share responsibility over their learning space?
    • How are you going to rotate the jobs for everyone to get an opportunity?
    • How are you going to hold students accountable for doing their job well?
    • Where in the room are you going to track who has what job for that week?

Thank you!

I hope that this is helpful, and I wish you the best for the upcoming school year. Remember mind, body, and then classroom. In that order 🙂

Journaling: What are the Benefits? What to Journal About? and How We Can Make it a Habit?

What do you do when you feel as if you cannot hold your emotions within you? When you are a cup, ill equipped to hold the volume of your feelings, and at any moment, it can all come spilling out creating a mess that would be more than a little inconvenient to clean? For me, the answer is I write it down. Since I was a child, I have loved to write, and very early on I realized that when I put my ideas into words, even if I was unclear when I started, by the time I finished, I would have more clarity than when I began. As an adult, I can add personal color to the widely accepted and research backed consensus that journaling can be life changing. When I post on my instagram story about my journal, I’ve had several people ask me how I journal and what I journal about. I am here to offer research, ideas, and resources for those who wish to know more and begin to journal. 

Preventing the Sunday Scaries

Sunday Scaries is deeper than just deciding not to work on Sunday, or getting all your work done before you go home. That dread of going to work may mean that you are burned out. By focusing on improving your physical and emotional resources, you can begin to make steps to take not only your Sunday back, but also your life.

How to Find True Rest

Thank you for reading, and I really hope this helps. I mean it when I say that being intentional about rest and fun has changed my perspective and outlook on life. I am hoping the same for you. You deserve to have joy and peace in your life. Until next time remember, mind, body, and then classroom. In that order.