Burnout happens when we do the same thing repeatedly for years. When our jobs are new, everything is an exciting challenge! But over years of doing it, tasks that were once challenging become mundane.
To me, this burnout-from-boredom is best solved by learning or doing something new at work. Something you’ve never done before. Maybe you take on a new project, or possibly you take a course to learn something new. You could train for a different position in your school, or learn to do something else entirely.
A course doesn’t have to be library- or education-related. You could learn Spanish to communicate with that new student from Guatemala. You could take some courses in student crisis intervention to help students you are concerned about.
You may not even need a course. What skills do you already have that you could share at school? Maybe you work with your student library aides on job interview skills. If you are interested in sports, volunteer to help the coaches run drills or work with individual students on skills. If you are into theater, volunteer to help with the upcoming production. If you love knitting, start a knitting club. Fight the boredom by doing something different.
DOES YOUR JOB HAVE MEANING?
Burnout also happens when we do not see real results from our hard work. Part of what makes education so awesome is that we can see positive results in our relationships with our students and in the growth of our library programs.
But this year especially, with so many schools going to online learning, those results may not be apparent to us. Librarians may find themselves teaching classes they have never taught before, or they may find themselves seen more as “warm bodies” than trained professionals. They may end up assigned to testing or be the go-to “fill in person” for teachers who are out sick. Maybe your job has changed so much that you don’t even feel like a librarian anymore.
If you are feeling burned out, could it be because you are not seeing the results of your work? If so, how can you ensure this happens? For example, if you are filling in for a teacher, call and check on them. What can you do to help out? If you miss student interaction due to online learning, see if you can be a “special guest” for a class or start an online book club for students. Try to find ways to see how your hard work positively affects others.