Regardless of what level you teach, you understand that managing students and parents can feel like an impossible task. In some cases, you can add going to war with school administration to this list. The constant bombardment of requirements from all sides will eventually lead to teacher burnout.
What is Teacher Burnout?
Teacher burnout is a more specific form of job burnout. The Mayo Clinic tells us that it is “a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.” While job burnout isn’t a concept unique to teachers, they are arguably those affected by it the most.
Teacher Burnout Statistics
According to the Alliance For Excellent Education, about 500 thousand teachers leave the profession each year. A portion of this comes from new teachers who hit burnout quickly. The high turnover rate is appalling for teachers in high poverty areas, who have to do more with less regularly.
Even in “regular schools,” teachers have to spend ample personal time grading assignments. It doesn’t even include teachers who plan for extra-curricular activities, which typically aren’t paid for their time unless it brings in money. Some states are better overall for teachers, but even those teachers hit the burnout wall.
Symptoms of Teacher Burnout
You may be suffering from job burnout if you have the following symptoms:
- Physical (and emotional) exhaustion
- Anxiety & depression
- Feeling detached from work and life
- Loss of joy
- Feeling ineffective at your job
- Inability to concentrate
- Unable to sleep
If any of these sounds like you or a fellow teacher, you may be suffering from burnout.
How Do I Prevent Teacher Burnout?
While a vacation to Costa Rica provides a short-term solution, that doesn’t help teachers much in the long run. They will still have to go back and put up with all of the same headaches when they go. Although a vacation is a great start, here are some other thoughts when it comes to preventing Teacher Burnout:
It is far easier to deal with work issues if you talk about them. Find a friend or a loved one you trust not to be judgemental and tell them about your struggles. If they are understanding, they will most likely know the feeling.
When you feel comfortable, your eventual goal should be to bring these issues up with your administration. Hopefully, you have a supportive administration that is understanding of your situation. Talking is not seeking advice; this is a way for you to release frustration. Be sure that the other party doesn’t dominate the conversation with comparable woes.
Take Care of Yourself
Self-care is one of the essential parts of your daily routine. Always being hooked to your job is not healthy, regardless of how much you enjoy teaching. If you have a family, you will want to set boundaries with your spouse and kids. However, if you feel like playing a board game with your family may help your soul, bring it up to them.
Don’t make this a one-time rest. Find a daily piece of relaxation so you can take some time for yourself. Even 20 minutes a day to read a chapter of your favorite book is enough to turn some days around.
As a teacher, it can be easy to be overwhelmed by everything you have on your to-do list. Even the thought of it may make you sick, which is why you need to take a moment to realize where you are.
Mindfulness is best done during meditation, allowing you to focus on where you are. Follow these steps if you wish to practice:
- Find a quiet space without interruptions.
- Close your eyes and start to take deep breaths.
- Focus on your breath, and do not linger on thoughts. Note them, but do not pass judgment.
- Do this for (at least) ten minutes.
Find a Hobby
There are two reasons that you should find a new hobby. First, it allows you to build a community of fellow hobbyists who enjoy the same things. Second, it gives you something else to focus on without having the achievement requirement.
The thing about jobs is that they may come from hobbies, but if you make everything about being the best, you won’t enjoy it. Instead, find a hobby where you don’t feel any judgment. Join a book club, take up quilting, a job, or anything that gets you out of being a teacher for a few minutes.
How Do You Avoid Teacher Burnout?
There is no way to avoid the problem altogether, but there are a couple of ways that you can reduce your chance of running into it.
Do Your Research
As a teacher, you know the importance of your students producing accurate information. To do so, they need to develop research skills that you, or other teachers, are responsible for providing them. It is time to apply the same expectations to yourself.
Check out the best states and locations. For example, find states with higher overall salaries with a history of teacher respect. Talk to people who work at prospective schools.
Small Class Sizes
Teachers are far more effective when they aren’t outnumbered 30 to one. Try and find a school that appreciates and focuses on small class sizes. If you are a parent running into this problem, make your voices heard. It is up to members of our society to speak if we want changes to occur.
Remind Yourself Why You Started
For some of us, we work in poor communities that aren’t known to have the best available resources. While not all students will appreciate your efforts, some students will remind you otherwise. Remind yourself regularly with some affirmations why you are getting into this in the first place.
Teacher burnout is something that can happen to the best teachers. Regardless of how a teacher gets there, judgment is no way to deal with this issue. Instead, focus on compassion, understanding, and care when it comes to solving teacher burnout.
If you know or are someone who is currently suffering, take some me time and try and make it regular. You can also participate in mindfulness exercises to remind you what you have control over.