We have worked through a variety of challenges this year. Some were unprecedented, and others simply exacerbated issues that have been around for some time. Faculty burnout is among the perennial problems receiving a good deal of attention. Even a cursory glance at sites addressing teaching and learning indicates the understandably heightened concern around faculty members’ stresses. Fortunately, several resources offer advice and practices that can lessen the impact of the many demands and challenges faculty face.
For a rundown of some strategies to reduce stress in your courses, see the recent Chronicle article that emphasizes the need to keep things simple and “be as candid as you can with students” as part of a more extensive set of practices to make your work more manageable. Also, collaborate with colleagues and check out other strategies outlined in Regroup and Refocus: Strategies to Avoid Professor Burn Out from Faculty Focus.
One thing to keep in mind as you navigate these challenges is that you are not alone in the broadest sense. While other faculty and staff are experiencing the same stressful situations, they are also a great source of strength and inspiration. Likewise, it is vital to recognize how attending to students’ well-being is also an act of self-care. As a faculty member at Temple University pointed out in the Philadelphia Inquirer, “when our students are stressed from other things like social isolation… that interfere with their learning, we are stressed.”
Those in leadership positions also feel the impact. A 2020 survey conducted by the American Council on Education found that “The top two most pressing issues for presidents at public four-year institutions were ‘mental health of students’ (61 percent) and ‘mental health of faculty and staff’ (42 percent).” Recognizing how we are all impacted will hopefully go a long way toward creating less stressful situations for the entire campus community.