Learning to Thrive As A Faculty Member

Darin Kapanjie shares some info on how to thrive and avoid burnout as an online educator.

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From the outside, a lot of people think that online educators (or their professors or teachers) have the dream job and have it altogether. It’s a common misconception to think the person “above” you has it made; surely they don’t have the same stresses or day-to-day worries that the people “on the ground” do. And while it’s true that certain stresses are unique to certain job roles, everybody has something they could worry about, and often more responsibility (or even a higher paycheck) comes with more stress and more things to worry about.

The onslaught of information in our digital age and the multitude of responsibilities that befalls educators is certainly true when it comes to online educators. Sitting in a home office after a full day or work and still offering substantive and educational responses to student questions, grading papers and exams, and giving the student a meaningful experience when you can’t interact with the face to face can be tough. More than that, it can be stressful and even lead to burnout.

With this in mind, below are some ways to help us all think a bit deeper and better about avoiding burnout for online faculty:

  • Take Breaks: Yes, it’s the same information you often give your students, but it’s just as important for you. If you’re feeling cloudy, get up and get outside. It’s unhealthy to sit down for three hours straight — and your focus will probably be better when you learn to focus on something else for 5-10 minutes.
  • Call Students: If a student has a pressing request, don’t be afraid to schedule some office hours where you can jump on a phone call and help them through it. Honestly, these sorts of conversations are often just as good for the educator as they are for the student.
  • Camaraderie: Don’t be afraid to talk with a fellow online educator. Sure, articles like this are great for some quick tips, but nothing beats the real, face-to-face interaction of someone who knows what you’re going through.

With these simple steps in mind, I encourage you to try to implement them next time you run into some frustration. Remember, taking steps in advance to avoid burnout is much better than revisiting your thoughts and feelings when it actually hits.

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