Avoiding the Top Three Newbie Mistakes that Lead to Burnout

Editors Features May 19 / May 17, 2019

–Aimee Shackleton–

Beginning any new teaching technique can be daunting at any time of your career. Flipped Learning seems to be one of those teaching decisions that can make or break you. The internet is littered with the advice of those who say “I tried Flipped Learning and it doesn’t work,” or “It’s too hard!” I present to you below, three ways to move yourself closer to burnout.

Forgetting to plan it out

Of course, your next lesson is the best place to start – tomorrow! Strike while the iron is hot and you are enthusiastic about your new teaching approach. The realization then sets in that you will need to plan for both Individual and Group Space activities. You then need to make sure it is all accessible to students before class tomorrow. A close cousin of this approach, and just as flawed, is to plan ahead to make each of your videos the night before you will use them in class. These approaches will lead towards burnout as you try to keep up with all the other things in your life.

Another great way to get yourself to burnout in a hurry is to plan to create your first videos in your free period, in your shared office. You’ll spend the whole period setting up before you get distracted or don’t get it done in your free time. This process leads to more stress about when you actually will get it done!

Many of you have heard me explain that when I started, I chose to flip all my classes at the same time! This decision is not something I recommend to others as it caused a huge strain on my life. I intentionally chose to do this as I wanted to create a method of video production that was sustainable for me. I am a perfectionist and knew that if I had 5 hours to make each video, it would take me 5 hours for each video. I knew this was unsustainable for me. If I started with one class, I would spend too long on each video. I would never be able to create all five classes worth of content without redefining the way I worked. I forced myself only to spend a short amount of time on each video. My focus was on getting them out on time, rather than perfect. But this approach might not work for everyone. Tailor your planning to your own strengths (and to your weaknesses).

When I work with those new to Flipped Learning, I recommend they start with one class ONLY. You can plan for the content you are teaching next semester. You then have as much time as you need this semester to plan it out. Everything is ready before you place the instructional materials in front of students.

Some teachers try to film 20-30 minute long lectures for their students. This practice is not fun for anyone. Plan it out first and use best practice as described in GEEFL in putting your videos together. This will ensure you don’t fall down this path to teacher burnout. View the Individual Space Mastery section (Lower Blooms, Learn Tech Tools, Appropriate Media, Short Media, Intuitive, Meaningful Tasks, Mix of Elements, Chunk Media, Connect Prior Knowledge) of GEEFL for more ideas.

Purchasing tons of new technology to help your teaching

Not only will this make a huge dent in your bank account, but you’ll also end up with thousands of dollars of flashy technology that you don’t know how to use! You will spend even more time trying to understand how to turn it on or use the software basics than you’ll spend on the pedagogy, leading you on the path to burnout.

A recommendation is to use technology that you already own to the best effect. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. I recommend those starting out to note how your teaching materials are currently sorted (paper notes, PowerPoints, typed up notes, live demonstrations [eg., Science]). Then, work within that framework for how you design videos. No need to type up all your notes if they are already handwritten – there are ways you can use the materials you currently have to maximize your time. Check out the IT Infrastructure section (Formative Tools, Simple IT workflow) of GEEFL for more information.

The opposite of this is teachers who fail to use technology to help them in the classroom. Many repetitive tasks in the classroom can improve with technology. For example, checking which students have watched a video, formative assessment multiple choice tests and checking for understanding. We all know the importance of gaining formative feedback from students. One way to push yourself towards burnout is to set yourself up for hours of marking student tests. Technology can help provide insights to your students’ understanding in a fraction of the time it takes you to correct all those tests. This leaves you free to work on your relationships within the classroom. Check out the Student Feedback section (Pre-class and Group Space Feedback, Adapt as Necessary and Regular Feedback) of GEEFL for more information.

Working alone in a silo

Trying to do everything on your own and refusing help from others is a sure way to burn out. So is failing to seek support for things that others have tried (and at times, failed) before you throw another log on the fire. Don’t read anyone’s advice and don’t learn from their mistakes – and you’ll find yourself well on that path to teacher burnout.

We live in an age where technology can link us across the globe with others who share similar interests. The fact that you are reading this article, written by an Australian, for a magazine based in the United States, demonstrates how far that reach goes. When I started Flipped Learning, few people, even in my whole country, were flipping. I found my tribe and continue to network with those across borders as they challenge my thinking.

Find a network that works for you–whether it is a trusted colleague face-to-face or attending a conference in your state. Online, you can interact through social media and forums, Facebook groups, Twitter, or our very own Flipped Learning Global Initiative online community. There are so many people out there happy to help you and give advice – search for them! Check out the Professional Development section (Continual Development, Aware of Innovations, Global Community, Local Community) of GEEFL for more details.

Implementing FL does not HAVE to contribute to burnout. On the contrary, once you have begun flipping, the only thing being ignited will be your passion for teaching.” Hopefully, you have found some ideas of what not to do so that you stay fresh and happy for your friends and family at the end of the day.


Aimee Shackleton
Aimee Shackleton
Aimee is eLearning and Innovation Leader and a secondary teacher of Mathematics and STEM at Loreto Mandeville Hall Toorak, Australia. She has successfully flipped her Mathematics classes for a number of years and is currently flipping all her classes. A Digital Author for Pearson’s innovative Lightbook Digital Mathematics textbook series for Senior Years students (years 11-12) and peer reviewer for the Australian Senior Mathematics Journal, Aimee is always looking for new ways to engage her students. Aimee is a passionate advocate for Flipped Learning, leading the charge at her school, as well as presenting at numerous conferences on Flipped Learning, STEM and Makerspaces and technology around Australia and overseas. Following her presentations from the first FlipConAus in 2015 – 2017, Aimee also presented at FlipCon New Zealand in 2017 and is looking forward to attending FlipConAus and FlipCon NZ in 2018.

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