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Recognizing Burnout, Strategies to Rest and Recover This Summer

Lesley Schultz • June 2022String Section • June 15, 2022

One of the many talking points in education currently is how, even though it is summer, and we aren’t in the building, our work never truly stops. This is true for a lot of music colleagues, especially our band colleagues, but many of us run some sort of summer festival, or summer camp, or just take time to do the things that cannot be done while we are teaching 5-7 classes a day. These camps and/or festivals are great for building our programs, and keeping our students engaged in playing over the summer but for some of the other tasks, it is important to save some time for yourselves. It is important to take time for ourselves and our families this summer, as a lot of us are showing signs of burnout and general wear and tear.

You may be suffering from burnout if you have some (or all) of the following symptoms: forgetfulness, difficulty finishing tasks, lack of concentration, lack of energy or passion, and emotional irritability. Now, looking at that list, we often feel that at the end of a year, particularly one which is increasingly difficult, fighting for resources for our programs, dealing with students and parents, and the ever-changing goalposts in education, some burnout is normal. However, we are still not in normal times, so our burnout at the end of this year may be a bit more than we are used to dealing with. 

Rest and recovery from burnout look a little different for everyone. Here are a few strategies that can help. First, put on a vacation responder on your email, and don’t check your email every day. Email can wait. I know of colleagues who never check their email in the summer. I prefer to go in at least every week or so to keep the inbox tidy. Second, plan your summer so you have set schedules. If you need to plan your fall concerts, set aside a couple of days to do that, and stick to that plan. Third, do things that you love to do. If that is music-related playing with a local group or orchestra, do that. If it is getting out in nature via camping or hiking, do that. If it is sitting on the beach or at the pool, do that. Summer is your time, your time to be paid for the hard work you have done this year. Make sure you take some time for yourself and your family this summer. School will always be there. In short, it can wait, and it will be fine.

Lesley Schultz currently teaches secondary general music and orchestra at Princeton City Schools (Cincinnati, OH). She earned degrees from West Virginia University and Ohio University. Lesley is a Level 2 Google Certified Educator. Lesley keeps an active performing schedule around the state of Ohio, performing with several regional symphonies on viola. She is a member of TI:ME (Technology In Music Education) and serves as the Ohio Chapter president and on the National Conference Committee. Lesley is a columnist for SBO Magazine. Currently she is relearning how to walk! In her copious amounts of spare time, she enjoys knitting, watching West Virginia Mountaineer sports and spending time with her family, and making TikToks about her cats.

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