Want to Prevent Teacher Burnout? Try This...
Updated: Jul 29, 2020
RAISE YOUR HAND IF YOU THOUGHT I'D SAY SOPs. (HAHA! I know...no one). But stick with me here.
SOP stands for: Standard Operating Procedure. Really it’s just a fancy term for ‘system’. Having systems and procedures in place are vital for every teacher. Without SOPs we would be making every decision like it was unique, and with the amount of decisions teachers make in a day (or even an hour) that would lead to burnout in a WEEK! You might already have systems and procedures in place for things and not even know it. So the first step is to identify the things you do have a system in place for, and write it out. For example, do you have a system or procedure for late work? For when a student is absent? For a visitor in your classroom? Chances are you do, but you might not have it written down or truly figured out.
So let’s dive in and see WHY SOPs are so important to preventing burnout.
1. SOPs allow for an objective decision maker
When you have an SOP, you can point back to that procedure or rule or agreement rather than feeling like it’s all your opinion or decision every single time. For instance, if a student wants to retake a test, you might have a retake procedure. Students need to correct their mistakes then complete the additional learning question set before scheduling a retake with you. Then when students request a retake, you don’t have to decide if they ‘deserve it’ or ‘need it’, or whatever. The only thing you are figuring out is if they completed the retake procedure.
2. SOPs reduce decision fatigue
Decision fatigue as teachers is so so real. The number of small tiny decisions we make on a daily basis is staggering, from if someone can go to the bathroom, sharpen a pencil, go to the office, sit over there, do this, do that, etc. SOPs cut down on the number of decisions teachers make in a day because there is a system already laid out.
3. SOPs highlight repetitive tasks
The rule of thumb is if you do something more than twice, make an SOP for it. It doesn’t matter if it happens frequently or infrequently. In fact, SOPs are really useful for those infrequent tasks. For example, as a special education teacher, I sometimes have students transfer in from other school districts or private schools. This process is slightly different than some other paperwork and meetings that I usually run, and it doesn’t happen that often. I found I was asking the same questions to the same people about 2x/year. Now, that doesn’t sound like much, but when you factor in the time spent emailing, waiting for responses, refreshing your memory on next steps, etc. It takes up more time than needed. By creating an SOP around transfers, I was able to do things much more efficiently, without having to wait for others to get back to me.
In general, SOPs give you back time. Time better spent connecting with your students.
Where could you save time with an SOP? Drop a note below and let me know where you're going to implement some systems!
P.S. If you are looking for others ways to save your time (and sanity) download my free teacher toolkit that includes a checklist to see where you are rocking it and where you could improve.