Let’s talk about fluff! You are likely asking yourself, “What is fluff?” Well, an image search of “fluff” gives us a picture of marshmallow cream and a super cute, puffy puppy! While delicious and adorable (in that order), neither are necessary to make gains with students. As an educator, I would define “fluff” as the stuff you truly don’t need to be doing. It doesn’t meet a standard. It doesn’t equate to student learning. It creates work for you with no benefit to stakeholders, and it adds to your stress level!
Author Jenny Grant Rankin, who wrote First Aid for Teacher Burnout: How You Can Find Peace and Success, discusses the importance of eliminating fluff for teachers.
Truth be told, stress and work overload are the leading causes of educator burnout. We are less effective and less able to regulate our thoughts and emotions when we are overwhelmed at work. We also have more difficulty bouncing back from challenging situations or troubleshooting solutions to problems. Fluff is a major contributing factor here!
So, guess what?! You should STOP doing it. Eradicate your fluff! Let me tell you how to start.
First, identify what you think might be fluff. You may need to challenge your view of grading and feedback for students. Do they read your feedback? Is there a better system? Rethinking homework might be beneficial as well. Much of a teacher’s time spent grading is homework related. Do you create projects for yourself that might be unnecessary? Make a list of your possible fluff.
Then, use this great flowchart adapted from Rankin’s book to decide what to keep and what to eliminate!
Take back the time it takes to do that work project and invest it into something much more useful. Develop a great new, engaging lesson plan. Commit to your own self-care and decrease the likelihood of burnout. Participate in a professional development opportunity. Mentor a new teacher! These things can help you feel better about your workload and the difference you are making as an educator!
While each of us needs a little fluff in our life, workplace fluff must be eradicated. Take the first step today!
Learn some additional tips on how to decrease teacher burnout with our free, on-demand webinar, and help your teachers, (and yourself), reignite their passion for teaching.