The Impact of Teacher Burnout and What We Can Do About It
Teachers are life-changing characters in the story of everyone’s life. They create an impact that is immeasurable. They’ve done a lot of good things that it’s difficult for you to single out a few. If you’ve become a caring, nicer, and kinder person, take the time to thank your teachers.
Even if you’ve hated Math a lot, teachers could make you love it. They have the power to make you realize the importance of numbers in your life. The things you may have despised yesterday might already be your favorite stuff today.
The thing, though, is that many teachers take a leave of absence due to stress-related problems — basically, getting burned out. As a matter of fact, roughly 15.7% of teachers don’t hesitate to leave their post annually. What do you think is the topmost reason? Reasons vary from one teacher to another, but there’s no denying the fact that it can significantly impact everyone in society.
How does burnout affect the teacher, the students, the school community, and the educational system? How can we restructure it?
Teachers have a strong dedication to their work, and we all know that. Most of them see this profession as a ‘calling,’ and they always have that passion when teaching. But because of a variety of reasons, teacher burnout occurs. These range from classroom management challenges to parliamentary mandates. Then there is also the anxiety of filling in report cards, the feeling of seclusion, the misconduct of students, a lack of autonomy, and other additional challenges.
Understanding Teacher Burnout
Unmotivated educators and stress are continuously becoming a common issue these days — work overload, low sense of worth, emotional fatigue, and troubles in handling uninterested, disruptive students among others. Burnout has definitely increased among teachers.
Teacher burnout is an illness that drives passionate, sensitive educators out of the profession. The conditions may be caused by attitudinal, emotional, or physical exhaustion due to the several problems they encounter, which include classroom distractions, oversized classes, too much paper works, domineering parents, insufficient salaries, violence, and assaults or problems with administrators or co-workers. Also, emotional problems may result from financial problems, poor physical health, family relationships, or other personal problems.
This condition can have a tremendous impact not only on the teachers and students, but on the school community and families as well. According to Howard and Johnson, ten to twenty percent of teachers struggle with psychological distress, with an added nine percent of them dealing with severe psychological grief. Indeed, teacher burnout is an upsetting and frustrating experience. This is why about 30% of teachers decide to leave the profession.
Warning Signs of Teacher Burnout
Imagine this — waking up the next day, out of breath, sweaty, and with a thumping head. Though you already took the medicine available, you still feel like crap. Equipped with fortitude to finish out the class period, you continue to teach. You find yourself feeling over devoted with the changing responsibilities of an educator or being underappreciated for the hours and work you put in the classroom. If this is the case, you may be suffering from teacher burnout.
Other symptoms of teacher burnout include:
- Teachers who deal with burnout often hinder themselves from attending social events or even a small lunch with co-teachers. They have no desire or feel plagued to be around others who seem to be doing excellently. In addition, they will no longer participate in email exchanges and stop attending meetings in the school. These educators will likely isolate themselves from other people who surround them until the school year ends.
- Teacher burnout can also remove that “spark”. It is something that you see in the smiles or eyes of the teacher when she greets students, when a graduate revisits to thank her for caring, and others. That spark is said to be the teacher’s driving force in everything he or she does.
- Have you dealt with a teacher who rarely talks, but when she does, all you can hear are complaints about students, staff, parents and other people in the room? This may be one of the common symptoms of teacher burnout. This attitude will continue for the rest of the school year.
- A sense of low personal accomplishment is another symptom of teacher burnout. This is portrayed by a feeling of failure both in their personal life and at the place of work. This is likely to develop in defeat, anxiety symptoms, and feelings of powerlessness.
There are also other behavioral symptoms that trigger stress — increased irritability, sudden mood swings, lack of control, suspiciousness. and paranoia.
The Effects of Teacher Burnout
What does burnout mean for the school, community, teacher, and students in general?
Effects of burnout on teachers
According to a Gallup report released in 2014, about 46% of teachers show high stress on a regular basis throughout the school year. Their performance and interest suffer as soon as they experience burnout symptoms. Also, they could be less capable of dealing with the frequent teaching stressors (e.g. disciplinary issues and classroom management).
Moreover, teachers are not invulnerable to the impacts of chronic stress on their physical health. As cited by numerous studies done by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, there are associations among unconstructive biological indicators and teacher stress like different patterns of cortisol. Approximately 51 percent of teachers suffer from poor sleep quality while 46 percent of them were detected with too much daytime tiredness. Basically, their physical health has a negative effect on their productivity and involvement as educators.
Effects of teacher burnout on students
Less support for learning. This is just one of the common effects of teacher burnout on students. Falling through the cracks is also possible since these adults lack emotional and social support from their teacher. Expect them to have low performance in schools and may keep a distance from the teacher due to fear or coyness.
As a research suggests, teacher stress can make other teachers and students more apprehensive. Children also have the tendency to copy the mood of their teacher, so if a teacher is angry or depressed, the student could show these conducts outside of the school and at home.
Effects of teacher burnout on the school community
The school community is also a victim of teacher burnout. The teachers tend to cut or reduce their social interaction with the community and colleagues. Additionally, chronic teacher burnout can poorly affect class size, scheduling, professional development, collegiality, curriculum planning, and other factors.
A high percentage of teacher burnout can also make it difficult for a particular school to plan and execute new programs, offer support and coordination for school facility, and perform professional development. It will also lead to fragile teamwork and collaboration among staff members. Scoring lower on standardized tests can also be expected by schools with higher rates of teacher burnout.
So as you see, the negative effects of teacher burnout are extensive, affecting not only the teacher herself or himself, but the students and school community as well. Fortunately, there are several ways by which a teacher can manage burnout in order to deliver the result he or she is expected to. This may be controlled or prevented by conferring problems with professional colleagues or by organizing, setting, and allocating time priorities.
What can be done to fight teacher burnout?
The fact is that school management plays a significant role in preventing teacher burnout, which may lead to management issues. With that, they can:
Coach instead of manage
School management must try giving their educational work force the tools, authority, and space they need to complete their tasks — empowering them and staying signed up as they fulfill their jobs. They must be open to, and accessible for, problem solving. Also, school heads must be accessible to personally take a genuine interest in their co-teachers as individuals and as people.
Acknowledge and reward good work
Monetary bonuses are nice at all times; however, recognition of an achievable work goes a long way to establishing loyalty and good will. Management efforts for recognition should be specific. To retain teachers’ interest, especially the high performing ones, in the institution, management should always make them feel worthwhile, respected, and appreciated.
The praise and feedback needs to be sincere. Recent studies show that many businesses are suffering from the loss of teachers because of several factors, but don’t let this happen to your school. Make your co-teachers feel valued and realize their real worth.
Establish a good school climate
The vision and attitude of a principal or school administrator plays a crucial role in setting the tone for the whole staff and in building the goal structure and whether this goal will be performance or mastery-oriented. If you aren’t aware, mastery-goal structures are specifically associated to feelings of depression. On the other hand, performance goal-structures will predict its development.
Create a support group
You may be thinking what sort of group they need to engage in. Well, anything that you think will give them the fun and enjoyment they essentially need. It is proven that being part of a community offers various health benefits and can even extend the life of a person. Teachers can either create a group or find one they are happy with.
Let them share the workload with their co-teachers
If it is possible, let teachers share their workload with their co-teachers. This will help reduce stress on both your parts. They can plan lessons together, give the same homework, troubleshoot particular areas of concern, and others.
Let them have time off
One excellent way for teachers to avoid burnout and maintain productivity and health is by taking time off from school. Schools should let teachers have at least one week of vacation twice a year.
Teacher burnout is indeed a serious problem that can affect many people. But by implementing solutions, they can definitely fight burnout, keep that spark in their profession, and continue to make a difference in their students’ lives.
We need to realize that without teachers, we would not be the person we are today. There were surely nights of depression, days when you despised waking up too early, and moments when you hated your teacher who kept on talking and talking in front of your class. But they never gave up! It’s because they love us and they want us to see the best days of our lives.
Be intelligent enough to realize that everything about them is a good thing — their smiles, greetings, comments, and good scolding. Perhaps you couldn’t repay them enough through any monetary value, but there’s an amazing way you can thank your teachers. Appreciate what you’ve learned from them and put them into good use.
Share with others what you learned from them and apply the values they helped you develop. Be proud of them. These acts are more than enough and would go a long way to repay every single thing that your teachers have done for you. But most importantly, be inspired by them.
The government should do the same thing. They must implement laws that will give more importance and privilege to our hard working teachers so they don’t feel exhausted in educating the future leaders of our world.
Help and support our educators as they make a better future for our students. Visit http://www.borderlesscharity.org for more information.
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