MTNA Conference; Monday, March 23, 2015: Fueling the Flame- Strategies for Preventing Teacher Burnout


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Martha Fischer was a hoot to listen to. Poor lady, she started off with tech issues but all ended up well and she made what could have been a very stressful situation for a presenter (I totally empathized as I have had first hand experience with this) and turned it into humor. The thing I liked most about this session is how engaging she was. She wanted to hear what worked in other teachers studios and many teachers were more than willing to share!IMG_4791

Preventing burnout is always a hot topic because most of us at one time or another will experience this on varying levels and degrees. The

Martha begins by saying, when in a helping profession, burnout happens often. Your vital flame and energies are distinguished because of lack of fuel.

Are you burning more fuel than receiving?

Are you stuck in a routine? Not feeling valued? Feeling powerless to change? Creative energy is drying up? Work no longer feeds you?

There are many symptom’s to burnout varying from physical and psychological symptoms (depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, digestive…)

Moslac burnout inventory (see handout for website)

3 dimensions of burnout:

  • Emotional exhaustion
  • Depersonalization
  • Negative personal accomplishment

Excerpt online tool to help access where you are… (link on handout)

(personal not scientific)

Prevention and Cure for Burnout

  • Self care- move, (exercise…), eat well, stay hydrated, get together with friends, pamper yourself once in a while, (be intentional- do it as an act of self care), attend to your emotional health.
  • Address emotional problems, learn the power of “No”, embrace the power of “yes”, enjoy doing nothing once in a while, participate in the JOY of the music.
  • Don’t be afraid of getting professional help.
  • You have choices even when it may feel like you don’t.
  • When your instincts call you to do something, then do it.
  • When we are constantly doing, we don’t have time for reflecting, dreaming, creative thinking… Make the time!
  • Elevated playtime. (her husband measures a lesson if he and a student had a good laugh)
  • “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way on purpose in the present moment and nonjudgmentally”. Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • Point- so many things we go through in our daily life that is mindless, the more we can be mindful, the more richness we are enjoying in our lives.
  • Interesting statistic: The average person takes in as much as 5 times as we did in 1996.
  • Task positive- engaged in task; Task negative- mind wondering. These cannot work at the same time.

Organize the Mind-

  • Partition our day into project periods (certain times of day)
  • Avoid multi-tasking and immerse in a task for sustained periods of time 30-50min.)
  • Allow time for daydreaming
  • Take a nap (even 10 min. does wonders) (I can personally vouch for this one!)
  • “Daydreaming leads to creativity, creative activity teach us agency…” Daniel….(missed the last name)

Professional development and validation

  • Ongoing reflection is a philosophy of teaching.
  • Join organizations
  • Professional business practices- studio policy
  • Promote achievements of your students and others
  • Fees should reflect your experience (under charging devalues your worth which is a sure way to burnout)

Ways to keep the flame burning bright

  • Remain a student (don’t pretend you know everything)
  • Nurture your own musical growth
  • Be an Arts advocate
  • Brainstorm with Peers


By the way I found this burnout self-test if you are curious where your burn out level is at right now. Click here.

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1 Comment

  1. merriammusicinc

    I’m sure all of us teachers can relate to feeling a little bit burnt out. There are some great tips and tricks to keeping a clean fresh approach to teaching to keep you and your students happy! Great read, thanks!


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