Teacher burnout is a real thing. Many teachers face motivation challenges on a daily basis, and after prolonged exposure to poorly managed emotional and interpersonal job stress they can sink into depression. Preventing teacher burnout is essential to ensuring teachers can effectively manage their classrooms and provide students with the best education.
In this article we will explore the most common causes of teacher burnout and tips for dealing with them.
Burnout: Main Symptoms and Signs
Everyone struggles with work-related stress at one point or another. For teachers this is especially common, as they are constantly under pressure to meet their students’ individualized needs. When this stress is not managed properly, it can lead to burnout.
Burnout is a form of exhaustion caused by chronic stress. When a person experiences burnout, they feel overwhelmed, hopeless, and unable to cope. If left unchecked burnout can result in serious mental and physical health issues.
There are three main dimensions to burnout:
- Exhaustion is physical and emotional fatigue caused by chronic stress. When a person is exhausted, they feel drained, rundown, and unable to respond to job demands.
- Cynicism is a negative attitude toward one’s job caused by feelings of unfairness and lack of control. A cynical person also feels tired, resentful, and hopeless.
- Detachment involves emotional and mental withdrawal from work-related activities. When a person is detached, they feel disconnected, disengaged, and uninterested in their job.
Burnout doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a gradual process that can take months or even years to develop. The first step is to identify the signs and symptoms of burnout. The combination of all three dimensions may result in a lack of confidence in one’s ability to meet demands, decreased job satisfaction, and eventually breakdown.
Why is Preventing Teaching Burnout Important?
According to Fortune, teachers are the most burned-out among full-time workers in the US. Studies show over 44% of K-12 teachers feel burned out “always” or “very often.” These numbers are hardly surprising, given the challenges they face.
Not everyone can withstand the heavy burden placed on educators. In addition to often being underpaid and overworked, teachers also have to deal with shifting education policies, rising class sizes, and ever-changing curriculum standards. They are also expected to be experts in child development, psychology, and behavior management.
Preventing teacher burnout is important because it can have a negative impact on students. Stressed people are more likely to make mistakes, have accidents, and get sick. When teachers are burned out, their ability to effectively manage their classrooms is impaired.
So how do we help our teachers fight burnout and stay healthy? Here are several highly effective strategies for creating a positive environment beneficial for everyone.
Strategies For Preventing Teacher Burnout
Instead of treating the issue as an individual problem, preventing teacher burnout should be a priority for administrators and policy-makers. Use the methods below to create a positive work environment and support our teachers!
Professional Development Opportunities
Provide teachers with regular opportunities for professional development. This can help them stay up-to-date with the latest teaching methods and education technology. It can also give them a chance to network with other professionals who may have fresh perspectives on teaching models.
Getting acquainted with modern educational technology helps teachers be confident about contemporary professional challenges. Tools like digital collaborative whiteboards, video conferencing and online learning platforms make it easier for educators to personalize instruction and meet each student’s learning needs.
Self-Care Isn’t Selfish
Adopt a healthy work-life balance by discouraging excessive work hours and promoting self-care. Teachers with balanced working schedules are less likely to experience depression, fatigue and burnout.
Self-care is not selfish. It’s a necessary part of maintaining one’s well-being. When teachers make time for themselves, they can return to work refreshed and ready to take on the day.
Some teachers fail to establish healthy emotional boundaries with their students. As a result, they may become too involved in their students’ lives and feel responsible for their academic and personal success. It’s important for teachers to remember not to get involved in the life of every student. They can only provide students with the tools and support they need for the subject they are teaching.
Flexible Work Arrangements
Schools should offer flexible work arrangements to teachers whenever possible. This can include telecommuting, flexible scheduling, and job-sharing. Reduced hours may also be an option for teachers who need to take care of personal or family responsibilities.
When teachers have more control over their professional lives, they can better manage their time and energy.
Schoolwork Doesn’t Leave the School
Taking your professional duties home is not always the best idea. Boundaries apply here too. Teachers should always have time away from work to relax and recharge.
This is easier said than done, of course. Some teachers feel guilty about not working on weekends, in the evenings and in the summer. They may even take work home with them without realizing it. If you find yourself taking work home, try to set aside specific days and times for it. That way, you can still enjoy your time without feeling guilty.
There are more strategies that teachers can use to prevent burnout, but the strategies mentioned above are the best place to start. Implementing some of these changes can create a more positive and supportive environment for teachers. With the right support, they can continue to make a difference for their and their students’ well-being.