One in three teachers burns out within five years. In order to prevent teacher turnout, we must prevent teacher burnout.
When I took over as head teacher at an international school in Japan, a friend told me about “black jobs”. She said that black jobs are jobs that are never-ending. Teaching is a black job. Teacher burnout is a problem in Japan, but it’s different than here. Of course I occasionally felt stress, but I never felt like I didn’t have enough time to prioritize and get my tasks done.
It’s different in America. According to a study conducted by the National Education Association, 50% of all new teachers leave the profession within the first five years of teaching due to stress and burnout.
In California, the problem is particularly acute, with nearly one in three teachers leaving the profession within five years. In this article, we will explore the causes of teacher burnout, ways we can prevent teacher burnout, and things parents and schools can do to help.
What Causes Teacher Burnout?
There are several factors that contribute to teacher burnout. The most common causes are high workload, lack of support, and lack of autonomy.
Teachers often work long hours, grading papers, preparing lesson plans, and dealing with disciplinary issues. They also face pressure to meet standards and improve student test scores.
Additionally, teachers may feel unsupported by their administration, colleagues, and parents. They may also feel that they have little control over their curriculum or classroom management. I think this is one of the main reasons for teacher burnout.
I know there are times that I feel both micromanaged and unsupported. It’s an odd conundrum.
How Can Teachers Avoid Burnout?
Teachers can take several steps to prevent burnout. It’s so easy to fall into the never-ending trap of work.
1. Prioritize Self-Care
Teachers MUST prioritize self-care, such as getting enough sleep, exercise, and healthy food. I cannot stress this enough.
New teachers want to do everything perfectly. I understand that desire, but teachers are people. We must have balance or we will burn out.
2. Set Clear Boundaries
They should also set boundaries between their work and personal life, such as taking time off during weekends and vacations.
Don’t answer work emails or texts outside of work hours. Set a task list for yourself. Keep it reasonable.
3. Seek Support
Teachers should seek support from their colleagues, mentors, and mental health professionals.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. If you are struggling with something, ask another teacher, colleague, or mentor. Someone will likely have an idea or support available for you! Teachers KEEP EVERYTHING. Ha!
4. Professional Development
Teachers can also benefit from professional development opportunities and coaching programs that help them improve their skills and reduce their workload.
Personally, I LOATHE PDs, but they’re so good for learning something new. Take advantage of them, especially to learn something new. YouTube also has a wealth of information.
What Can Parents and Teachers Do to Help Teachers With Burnout?
Parents and schools play a crucial role in preventing teacher burnout.
Parents should communicate with their children’s teachers and offer their support. They should also encourage their children to be respectful and engaged in class.
Teachers are people. We aren’t perfect and there are some bad apples in every profession. However, we need to foster a culture of respect in schools. It’s the only way we will be able to teach.
Schools should provide resources and support to help teachers cope with stress and burnout. For instance, schools can offer wellness programs, coaching programs, and mental health services to teachers.
Often times school provide many resources, so many they make us dizzy. Unfortunately, those resources do not always include the ones teachers need the most: wellness programs & mental health support.
3. Culture of Collaboration
Schools can also foster a culture of collaboration and teamwork that empowers teachers to share ideas and support each other.
This sounds so simple, but it’s often overlooked. No subject exists in a bubble. Our content areas work in tandem to provide a well rounded education for our students. There’s no reason for us to work alone.
In addition, teams need to foster inclusivity. We need to embrace new ideas from new teachers. Education is dynamic and we need to adapt to changes, just like every other profession.
There’s nothing like starting a new career and getting shot down all the time. Don’t do that to new teachers.
5. Administrative Support
The administration of the school sets the tone for teachers. “Please” and “thank you” go a long way. All our jobs are stressful, but without a positive vibe from the admin team, the rest of the school will feel down.
I’ve seen this happen in so many schools. It’s really unfortunate.
Conclusion: Burnout Prevention
In a post-Covid era with many states facing severe teacher shortages, we must do our best to ensure teachers do not burn out.
It is essential for teachers, parents, and schools to work together to prevent burnout and create a positive and supportive learning environment.
By prioritizing self-care, seeking support, and fostering collaboration, we can help teachers avoid burnout and stay engaged in their profession.
- The National Education Association (NEA): The NEA provides teaching support and resources for educators.
- California Teachers Association (CTA): The CTA also is a great resources for educators.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline: NAMI offers free, confidential support to people experiencing mental health issues. Their helpline is available Monday-Friday, 10am-6pm EST at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. They also have local affiliates that provide support groups and education programs.
- Crisis Text Line: This is a free, 24/7 text line for people experiencing a crisis. Teachers can text HOME to 741741 to be connected with a trained crisis counselor.
- American Psychological Association Help Center: This website offers resources on mental health, stress management, and self-care. Teachers can access articles, videos, and interactive tools to help them cope with stress and improve their mental health.
- Education Support (UK): This organization provides support and resources to teachers in the United Kingdom. They offer a free helpline at 08000 562 561 and an online chat service. They also provide counseling and coaching services.