I’m going to be honest with you, teaching is a crazy-hard job! Up to 50% of teachers leave the profession in their first five years of teaching, and most of these do so because of teacher burnout.
Wait, What is Teacher Burnout?
Teacher burnout is that feeling of total overwhelm towards your job. There are some very real, physical symptoms. For example, irritability, exhaustion, insomnia, appetite changes, headaches, brain fog, forgetfulness, and more. Other signs such as complaining about work more, or loss of interest in work-related social gatherings may also be present. All of these might be signs that you’re feeling burnt out, and it might therefore be time for a break. Don’t worry, it’s totally normal for teachers to feel these in the days before school breaks!
So What Causes Teacher Burnout?
- Increased responsibilities (alllll that paperwork that needs to be finished)
- Lack of support (for example, from other teachers, administration, leadership, etc)
- Standardized testing (administering the test, prepping students to take the test, pressure from administration or parents)
- Teacher evaluations (use of standardized testing results to evaluate teacher performance)
- Student behavior (those delightful little cherubs really can be challenging at times)
- Staffing problems (due to improper staffing, sickness, or personality clashes)
- Teaching outside their area of expertise (please don’t ask me to teach sport…or music…)
- Inadequate planning/prep time (how long does it take you to plan your lessons each week?)
- Lack of respect for the profession (from students, parents, or the community)
- Availability of resources (you can’t teach a book that you don’t have)
- Training (let’s be innovative and forward-thinking while we sit here waiting for the IT support person to get the projector working)
How Can I Avoid Teacher Burnout?
Well, the good news is that you can avoid teacher burnout. By being proactive, and focusing on the things you can control, you can totally avoid teacher burnout. Here are 10 strategies that you can use to avoid teacher burnout:
- Plan a vacation – you don’t need to take it yet, but start planning
- Change the classroom routine – a change is as good as a holiday, right?
- Be prepared for your lessons – careful planning, organization, and preparation
- Be purposeful with your time – avoid procrastinating when you should be planning!
- Set some goals for yourself – what are your goals for the day/week/month, what steps can you take now to achieve these goals?
- Be positive – for every negative comment you make, add three positive comments
- Reach out to your colleagues – chances are, they’re feeling the same way (or have in the past!)
- Reward yourself – for each goal you achieve, give yourself a reward
- Reclaim your weekends – leave work at work and spend your weekends doing the things you love
- Take some ‘me time’ – if you’re really feeling the effects of teacher burn out, allow yourself time to recover
And to that person who says ‘but you only work six-hours a day and get 12 weeks off each year’… Leave a comment below to let me know how you’d love to respond!