The Real Epidemic: Teacher Burnout

Image of woman with face in her hands and stressed with words slaying teacher burnout

As a parent to elementary-age children, I witness first hand the demand on K-12 teachers and school staff these days. It is a hell of a lot different environment than when I was going to school in the 90’s and 2000’s. Like, most days, I am absolutely astonished at what kinds of crazy have become normal. It started with curriculum mandates and test score goals. Things got really scary when we added school shootings. Throw in a world-wide pandemic, budget cuts, and staff shortages, well it has been a recipe for disaster or in other words, massive-scale teacher burnout. With recent polls showing 55%(!) of teachers saying they were considering leaving the profession.

The outside factors leading to teacher burnout are obvious and well-reported. I want to take a different approach and look at it from a smaller scale. As with everything I seem to do, I want to bring it a little closer to home. When the problem is “out there”, there is a lot that seems out of our control. When we bring it back to ourselves, guess what, there is something we can actually do about it. I’m not claiming to be able to solve test score stress, school shootings, school budget issues, or world-wide pandemics. Absolutely not. What I am claiming to do is give teachers a fighting chance to taking back their careers, maintaining their health, and feeling damn good about both.

Common Characteristics of Teachers

Most of the teachers that I know are simply saints. A good teacher has a lot of special qualities.

  • Patient
  • Adaptable
  • Creative
  • Good communicators and great listeners
  • Leaders
  • Love learning
  • Respectful
  • Motivated and enthusiastic

These are well-known characteristics that good teachers have in common. But what about other personality or aspects of character that may be putting them in a position of burnout? Let’s take a look at those, because they give us clues as to where to start solving this teacher burnout problem.

Characteristics Leading To Burnout

Just as there are common characteristics that make a great teacher, there are also characteristics and behaviors that lead to burnout. These are also very common characteristics and behaviors among teachers. It becomes obvious why so many teachers are not only suffering from burnout, but are choosing to leave the profession behind.

  • Lack of adequate social support
  • Taking on more than one can handle at work
  • Taking on more than one can handle with family and friends
  • Poor self-care

My mission is to help teachers see that while we cannot change what we cannot change, there are a few things we can. These simple but often really hard things will help them to get their career, health, and life back.

What Next? Slaying Teacher Burnout

I have just explained teacher burnout in very broad terms and painted the big picture. The truth, though, is that each and every individual teacher are also having a unique experience and will require an individualized approach. That is what I will be working on this school year with teachers. Creating an individualized plan for fighting burnout and finding that passion for life and teaching again. Here is how we do it.

  1. We start with values. Knowing them, becoming aware of their influence on our life, and making them a priority.
  2. Simplifying everything. Cocoon mode. Learning to say no.
  3. We assess the nervous system and the physical body. Is it stuck in fight? flight? or fawn? Does it need rest or does it need to get moving and take action?
  4. Habit and routine analysis. Is your life in alignment? Where are things off course?
  5. Put on your own oxygen mask first. Self-care as a habit and ritual.
  6. Pattern analysis. Finding all the spots behavior is based on old coping skills or defense mechanisms.
  7. Relationship inventory and boundary workshop.
  8. Finding or creating the tribe.

Are You Ready?

Are you a teacher or school support worker ready to take back your life? Simply fill out the form below, and we will be in touch to schedule a free 60 minute coaching call. If you care about a teacher that is in a tough position, send this article along to them.

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