Teacher burnout: How to recognize it and what school leaders can do about it

Learn about the signs of teacher burnout and find out what you can do to address it before it becomes a problem.

Here we are on the verge of school holidays, an important time for teachers to rejunvenate. Unfortunately, teacher burnout is a growing problem in recent years as we come to terms with the COVID-19 pandemic, shortage of teachers and growing scrutiny over global league tables and student performance. It can cause talented teachers to leave the profession, and it can be very difficult to recover from.

Teachers face a lot of difficulties. They must modify programs to meet the needs of a large number of learners, keep track of changing education regulations, deal with students with special needs, and fulfill administrative obligations. Many experience teacher burnout, hitting their limit in dealing with their work’s daily challenges. It occurs after prolonged exposure to poorly managed emotional and interpersonal job stress.

Teacher burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that can be caused by a variety of factors, including excessive workloads, lack of support, and unrealistic expectations.

Teacher burnout is a very real phenomenon that can have serious consequences for both educators and their students. It is typically characterized by feelings of cynicism, exhaustion, and a lack of enthusiasm for the job. Burnout can lead to absenteeism, Increase turnover, and adversely affect job performance. In extreme cases, it can even result in physical or mental illness. Burnout is often caused by unrealistic job expectations, insufficient resources, and a lack of support from school leaders or colleagues. However, it can also be sparked by a deep commitment to one’s students and a desire to see them succeed. Regardless of its cause, burnout can have a profound impact on those who experience it.

While it is not always possible to completely eliminate stress from a teacher’s life, there are steps that can be taken to prevent or reduce burnout. As a school leader, you play an important role in supporting your teachers and preventing teacher burnout. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Remember that your teachers are people with their own lives outside of the classroom. They need time to recharge, so don’t expect them to be available 24/7. Encourage them to take breaks, use their paid time off, and disconnect from work when they can.
  • Create a positive and supportive working environment. Make sure your teachers feel appreciated and valued, and that they have the resources they need to do their jobs effectively.
  • Foster a culture of feedback and collaboration. Encourage teachers to give and receive feedback openly, and make sure they feel supported by their colleagues. Help them to see challenges as opportunities for growth, not as personal failures.
  • Provide resources and support to help teachers deal with stress and burnout. This might include access to counseling services, opportunities for peer support, and educational materials on self-care.

    By taking these steps, you can create a school environment that is conducive to helping prevent teacher burnout. When teachers feel supported and valued, they are more likely to be engaged in their work and committed to their students’ success.

    What are your thoughts on this issue? Have you experienced teacher burnout yourself? How did you cope with it? Share your stories and advice in the comments below.

Author: Dr Jake Madden

Jake Madden (Dip Teach; B.Ed; Grad Dip: Leadership; M. Ed: Leadership; EdD; FACEL; MACE) Dr. Jake Madden is currently the Principal, St Edward’s Primary School, Tamworth. He has enjoyed a successful teaching and principal leadership career over the last thirty years building teacher capacity through the development of learning in the contemporary world, the promotion of flexible learning spaces to meet the needs of the 21st century learner and curriculum for global mindedness. Jake is a leader in the notion of teacher-as-researcher and is widely published in this area, authoring and co-authoring books and a number of journal articles showcasing his experiences and research into leading educational change.

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