I'm Stressed, Fatigued, and Burned Out: Self-Care for Pandemic-Induced Online Instructors

Concurrent Session 1
Streamed Session Blended Community College/TAACCCT

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Brief Abstract

For some instructors, the jolt and sudden switch to online teaching has created an imbalance in routines, priorities, and habits of self-care.  Instructors may find themselves buried under grading and content creation, all while managing multiple other personal and professional priorities.  Join us to discuss self-care strategies for the pandemic-induced online instructor.

Sponsored By


Tina Rettler-Pagel is a Faculty member and Chief Online Learning Officer at Madison College, in Madison, Wisconsin. Tina holds a B.S in Education with an emphasis on Emotional Disabilities from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an M.S. in Administrative Leadership from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She has an Ed.D. in Student Affairs Administration from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Tina has completed an Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Online Teaching Certificate, as well as participated in OLC's Institute for Engaged Leadership in Online Learning (IELOL) in 2017. Her research interests include retention and persistence in the online classroom, the success of women of color in online learning spaces, women in higher education leadership and governance, digital equity, and community college approaches to teaching and learning. Tina's hashtags? #Mom #Partner #CommunityCollegeProud #OnWisconsin #A11yAdvocate #OnlineTeaching #Includer #Kindness #Connector #OnlineLearning #TechNerd #Resilience #StrongGirlsStrongWomen #Hockey #Fishing #AnythingSummer #JamMaker #Perseverance #SayYesToNewAdventures #ComeAsYouAre #StartWhereYouAre #ImpostorPhenomemon #Access

Extended Abstract

"Do you know that feeling of being underwater a bit too long and you start to feel the pressure on your lungs wanting to gasp quickly for air? Then the panic sets in as you try to reach the surface and it feels like it is taking forever to get there.  You feel like you are going to drown. Luckily, you finally reach the surface, relieved to get that air.  You take your first few breaths, feeling exhilarated and alive!  Then you look around and see you are in the middle of the ocean, with 20-foot waves around you.  That's what online teaching feels like for me right now."

Am I the only one who feels this way?

Dear Colleague,

You are not alone. 

We hear you. We know you are working harder than you have ever worked before.  We know you are sitting at your computer for long hours. We know you are giving incredible amounts of time and energy to your students. 

You might be behind on your grading.  You may be planning one day ahead of your next class session.  You might be scrambling to find a good internet connection. 

All of this "balancing and managing" is happening while you are negotiating and navigating through the priorities of families, partners, friends, pets, elders, coworkers, and your own self-care. 

You are not alone. We hear you.  We are here for you. Join us for this critical conversation to take a moment to pause, to take a breath.  During this breath, let us find ways to build self-care into our daily routines to give pause, extend grace, and more importantly, step out of the stress and fatigue towards a more healthy and balanced self-care strategy.

The purpose of this session is to start a conversation about the burnout, fatigue, and stress online instructors may be experiencing, especially during the pandemic-induced push to move classes online.  In this honest, personal, informative, and engaged conversation session, participants will explore their self-care routines and strategies (or lack thereof) and how they might find new ways to build self-care practices and strategies into their daily practices moving forward. 

Join us as we explore self-care strategies for pandemic-induced online instructors through the following guiding questions:

  • How do you describe your current situation to someone who may not understand your pandemic online teaching reality?
  • What is the biggest change or adaptation you have had to make to account for the demands of teaching online during the pandemic?
  • What is something you currently practice or want to practice to establish healthy "work" boundaries at home?
  • What are some examples of instances, experiences, or actions (such as connecting to a group of colleagues) that has helped diminish fatigue, burnout, and stress?  How has this been beneficial to your personal and professional life?
  • How have people supported you while working from home? For example, maybe your kiddos drew you a picture, your partner lent a listening ear, or a colleague shared a useful resource?
  • What is one tip or strategy you would offer to an online teaching colleague who is struggling with their own self-care during this pandemic?
  • What is a teaching-related change you have made to address stress, fatigue, or burnout?

By participating in this session, you will...

  1. Identify at least one strategy you use to infuse self-care into your daily routine.
  2. Identify at least one person you will actively build a network with and together further support and mentor one another to address burnout, fatigue, and self-care.
  3. Discuss strategies for rewriting one's fatigue, burnout, and stress dialogue.
  4. Identify possible teaching-focused strategies that could reduce stress, fatigue, and burnout.