“There are several reasons behind the massive teacher burnout. Many teachers are tired of being treated like students instead of trained professions. We have administrators telling us what to think and how to do every mundane tasks” – GA Teacher (Parker-Pope, 2008)
The profession of teaching is usually chosen by an individual who enjoys children, loves the lifelong pursuit of learning, and desires to help others. Yet, when you work in a helping profession such as teaching, you are subjected to the highest occupational hazard, teacher burnout. Burnout was defined by Freudenberger in 1974 and entails exhaustion accompanied by feelings of failure when an individual is met with excessive demands while being insufficiently rewarded for their effort. Then, in the early 1980’s Maslach and Jackson refined the definition of burnout and included three sub-domains of measurement. The three sub-domains are: depersonalization, reduced personal accomplishment, and emotional exhaustion.
The term teacher burnout was identified by Susanne Carter in 1994. Carter classifies it “as physical, emotional, and attitudinal exhaustion that begins with a feeling of uneasiness and mounts as the joy of teaching begins to gradually slip away.” When it comes to teacher burnout, teachers mostly experience depersonalization. Depersonalization takes place when an individual distances themselves from others and tends to view them impersonally. Due to teachers’ job responsibilities and work load, they are often isolated on a daily basis, which puts them at greater risk to experience this form of burnout.
Teaching can be a rewarding job, but it is also stressful. The field of education consists of a bureaucratic structure, ongoing evaluation of process and outcomes, overcrowded classrooms, limited student resources, lack of administrative and school personnel support, additional outside of classroom demands, and insufficient month salary – all which contribute to stressed and dissatisfied teachers across the country. These factors on any given day can way heavy on a teacher, and ultimately yield itself to teacher burnout becoming a reality.
There is adequate information as to the causes of burnout for teachers, yet there are no specific guidelines as to how to prevent such a matter from taking place. Each individual is different thus causing a need for varying strategies to be utilized. It is a fact that teacher burnout is not something that happens only once; it can occur repeatedly. However, if teachers learn to recognize it, maybe they can prevent themselves from falling into the burnout pattern.
From the teacher’s perspective s/he should:
- Be aware of his/her own personality.
- Participate in relaxing activities to relieve stress.
- Maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
- Discuss problems with colleagues.
On the other hand, schools can assist its teachers in preventing burnout. By schools doing their part, it can result in a healthier teacher both mentally and physically as well as create work longevity. Some steps schools can take are:
- Provide support.
- Mentor its teachers.
- Teaming of colleagues; collaboration.
- Inclusion in decision making that affects teachers directly.
A combination of these actions will be beneficial to both schools and teachers in the long run. Ultimately, happy teachers produce effective lessons and contribute to creating productive citizens who are lifelong learners.