What is Teacher Burnout?
Teaching is a good profession but a demanding career at the same time. With long working hours, teachers bear the risk of suffering from teacher burnout. That is why teachers need to find a way of how they can deal with their physical and mental health needs before it’s too late.
According to Psychology Today, burnout is the state in which an individual undergoes chronic stress that causes emotional and physical exhaustion. This post will walk you through the warning signs, cause of teacher burnout, and how you can avoid them.
What Are the Teacher Burnout Signs & Symptoms?
If you want to be a teacher or you already are, you should know some of the signs of teacher burnout to help you take the necessary action when you notice them. Below are some signs of teacher burnout you may likely experience as a teacher:
1. Feeling Irritable and Easily Gets Angered
Most teachers are undoubtedly friendly, and that’s because they will have to interact with parents and students daily. That said, a change in your naturally friendly personality is a red sign that you are suffering from teacher burnout. Some of the changes can include continually feeling irritable, getting angry frequently, among other negative personality changes.
These kinds of changes happen because teachers are given minimal time for self-care. For example, when you are not given the time to have enough sleep, eat healthily, the chances are that you are going to have bad emotions or low moods. This is what will result in teacher burnout in the long run. So make sure that you take the appropriate action when you notice these signs.
2. No Desire to Attend Social Gatherings
Another sign that you are suffering from teacher burnout is when you have no desire to attend social gatherings. For example, you don’t feel like going out with your colleagues, or you continuously reject invitations to attend social events.
The reason why teachers suffering from teacher burnout don’t feel like joining others in social events is that they want to have more time to handle the many things they have in mind. In some cases, teachers suffering from teacher burnout may even decide to take mental health days to allow them to prepare for the return of school activities.
3. Chronic Fatigue or Exhaustion
Sure, teachers have a lot to handle, and the chances are that they will feel exhausted. However, when it reaches a point when you can’t wake up daily to go to work, then that is a red sign that you are suffering from teacher burnout.
Normal fatigue or exhaustion is acceptable and common, but when it gets to a point where it becomes chronic, then you need to take action immediately to save yourself.
4. Increased Complaints
Complaints are acceptable, primarily when you work in an organizational setup. However, you need to check your emotional health if you notice that you are always raising complaints. Teachers will occasionally have complaints to raise.
However, when you start feeling that there is nothing that can fix the problem you have, then chances are that you are suffering from teacher burnout and, therefore, need to check your emotional health.
5. Chronic Insomnia
Chronic insomnia can also be a sign that you are suffering from teacher burnout. If you find it difficult to sleep at night or you are always awake when other people are asleep, then you have insomnia that resulted from burnout. Usually, insomnia and burnout are closely related.
For example, you may be feeling exhausted but find it quite hard to fall asleep when you get back to the house. It is, therefore, essential to take action when you start experiencing fatigue and insomnia at the same time because they are signs of burnout.
What Causes Teacher Burnout?
1. Extreme Amounts of Paperwork
Let’s face it – teachers are often overworked as disciplinarians, counselors, paperwork processors, administrators, lesson planners, nurses, role models, among other few roles. Such demands combined with low payouts is unbearable that most teachers start to feel burned out.
2. Lack of Respect For Career
Many people who opt for the teaching profession see themselves as perfectionists, and tend to overlook the career itself.
As such, teachers will start comparing themselves to others whom they feel they don’t fit the standard. Such personality traits lead to undue pressure that contributes to burnout.
3. No Administrative Support
One of the common causes of teacher burnout is a lack of support, especially from the administration. Many times, the administration receives pressure from the higher authority, after which they start posing unreasonable demands and expectations to the staff members.
As such, teachers begin to feel unappreciated or even worse discouraged due to the high demands put in place.
4. Challenging Interactions With Parents
Not only do teachers lack support from administration but parents as well. Some parents lack respect and support for teachers through their frequent demands for one-on-one meetups or phone calls.
Even worse, going behind the teacher’s back to address an issue that should have been solved initially by the class teacher. Additionally, teachers would also feel burned out from unprofessional teachers who are fond of gossiping and don’t collaborate.
5. Increasingly Difficult Student Behavior With Increases in Frequency and Severity
Dealing with students with behavioral issues can be downright frustrating, especially when you have to deal with your kids when you get back home. Often, highly populated classrooms will discourage even the most dedicated teachers.
Not to mention, students with special needs or behavioral problems can lead to emotional stress which contributes to teacher burnout.
How To Avoid Teacher Burnout?
1. Celebrate Teacher Accomplishments
The first way to avoid teacher burnouts is by celebrating your achievements. Sure, students are given more credit when they excel in their studies, but it is through teachers that they can achieve those results.
If you have contributed to your students excelling, you need to celebrate the achievement with friends by going out for a drink. Likewise, employers should also appreciate or celebrate teachers who excel with rewards or anything that will make them feel more appreciated.
2. Lighten the Load
Teacher burnouts are a result of overworking teachers, such that they can no longer do the work. Employers should devise a way of reducing the workload given to teachers.
Reducing the teaching hours and the number of students a teacher will handle goes a long way to avoiding teacher burnouts. Also, creating flexible teaching hours can help minimize the chances of teacher burnout.
3. Plan Community Activities
It is important to make teachers feel included, and this can be done by planning community activities. Teachers are mostly with students nearly all the time, and this is why the teaching profession is considered a lonely career.
By organizing community activities where teachers can meet and talk about the challenges they face, they get relieved and realize that it is not only them trying to work tooth and nail to help students excel. Community activities are always common for the faculties, but you can also organize one for the whole school.
4. Create a Positive Environment
Administrators should build a culture where it is easy to approach the administrators and air out a few grievances without any problems. That said, Principles or Chancellors should create a conducive atmosphere where every teacher feels included and valued.
When teachers feel included and valued, they will have more desire to work hard and achieve the results desired by the schools in which they teach.
5. Improve Professional Development
Teacher preparation programs will often improve with time, but if that doesn’t happen, it might be time for the administration to implement reasonable professional development opportunities.
While every teacher desires to feel valued, it can be quite frustrating to employ primary roles that could be better spent on grading students and planning their classrooms. Administrators should always intervene and seek guidance from higher-ups on professional development.
6. Take a Mental Health Day
Maybe it’s time you realized that mental health days are way more critical than normal sick days. Sometimes teachers need to take a break, loosen up and let the goofy side of you out for some time before you can resume.
Usually, teachers who take mental health day breaks come back more productive. When taking a mental health day leave, don’t worry about how much work you’ll have to do when you get back to work; loosen up and wait to get back before you can start worrying about them.
7. Learn to Say No
There are times when saying NO helps. You should know that you can’t do everything by yourself. The more you’re letting these demands to take control of yourself, the less productive you’re likely to be.
When schools are short of personnel, teachers are always ready to pick up a new responsibility, and that’s okay. However, if you feel that you have too much to handle, feel free to reject any new responsibility.
8. Take Time for Yourself
As mentioned before, the teaching profession is the most demanding career, which is why most teachers are burnout victims.
Whatever this career means to you, don’t lose yourself. Instead, have some “me time” meditating, exercising, going to the movie cinemas, or even spend quality time with your loved ones.
Teacher burnout can be severe and sometimes lead to depression. As a teacher, don’t hold yourself up too much. Loosen up a little bit and take mental health days when need be. The signs discussed above should help you know what action you should take. The ways to avoid teacher burnout should also help you stay clear away from teacher burnout cases.