Teacher Burnout - How Real Is It and What Can You Do About It?
Teachers are usually seen as welcoming, empathic, and, more often than not - enthusiastic creatures. Ready to change lives with the power of education. Students and parents often idolize them, leading exemplary lives that show they have it "together." They radiate positivity, and for some people, teachers are picture-perfect, the epitome of a human being. Understatement of the year!
Although teachers may be seen as the superhumans of modern civilization, they are not superheroes. They are emotional beings who also experience various mixed emotions every day for a significant portion of my life. I witnessed fellow teachers navigating through negative emotions they experience almost daily. For some of them, the struggle was and is still real.
These conflicting emotions may vary between feelings of frustration and irritability towards colleagues and students. Some teachers even feel emotionally uninvolved in daily school activities. Others start to create a cynical outlook on life and lose their spark to teach.
Can these feelings be warning signs of teacher burnout? According to statistics, 5 - 30% of teachers struggle with teacher burnout. Sadly 9.5% of teachers leave before their first year of teaching is over. Approximately 50% of teachers give up teaching within five years of their career.
Yes, teacher burnout is real and not a figment of one's imagination, and so are the consequences. But, what does teacher burnout mean? Where does it come from? Moreover, in this post, I will also explain the different stages of teacher burnout and how to overcome this stumbling block efficiently and effectively.
Clarifying - Teacher Burnout
Teacher burnout does not happen overnight. It is a gradual process of continued excessive stress on an individual, both mentally and emotionally, which in return leads to exhaustion. A feeling of overall tiredness of life. This can have a serious impact physically and mentally on the body or cause certain medical disorders.
The root of teacher burnout
Some say the love of money is the root of all evil; in this instance, it is not exactly true for teachers. One of the most critical but often overlooked roots of teacher burnout originates from teachers' lack of belief in themselves to accomplish their goals. Furthermore, various contributing factors exist that results in teacher burnout, such as:
- Lack of school administrative support.
- Teachers experience the feeling of isolation because colleagues do not offer a support system.
- Negative teacher-student relationship or student behavioral problems.
- Teachers feel overwhelmed by their workload.
- A lack of resources.
- Inadequate prep time for lessons.
- Disagreeable parents of students.
- Teachers teaching outside of their field of expertise.
Setting the Stage for Teacher Burnout
Since teacher burnout is a gradual process, it can be broken up into different stages. These stages can be likened to the five plot elements of a narrative.
- The opening scene consists of teachers who experience high job satisfaction, free-flowing creativity, and out-of-this-world high energy levels.
- In the balancing act, tension builds, where teachers start experiencing irritability and become quick-tempered.
- Tension keeps on rising to where paranoia and chronic symptoms of anger and depression set in and reach a climax.
- After the emotional turning point in a teacher, emotional weakness and career failure become an unresolved conflict for some.
- Tragically, attrition and burnout are the denouements for teachers due to mental and emotional exhaustion. Many are then labeled with a significant emotional disorder.
Everything in life is a choice. We have the power to overcome stumbling blocks and turn them into steppingstones; for some, the road is harder than for others. Hence a few powerful tips to overcome or avoid teacher burnout:
- Publicize the nature and warning signs of burnout.
- Create a road map for addressing symptoms of burnout.
- Keep track of your mental and physical health and overall wellbeing
- Proactively take up self-care practices - following a healthy diet and exercise regime.
- Build your mental resilience.
- Know your limits - avoid more responsibility than you can handle.
- Ask for help, especially when you know you need it.
Although teacher burnout is real, it is not a death sentence. We are the author of our destiny, and we can rewrite our story by becoming an improved, renewed, and healthy version of ourselves if we are willing to recognize and accept the truth of our reality. 'You have the power to say, "this is not how my story ends."
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