Teacher Burnout – When Teaching Becomes a Burden

Teacher Burnout - When Teaching Becomes a Burden

“A good teacher is like a candle; it consumes itself to light the way for others” is a saying that has been going around for centuries. But the candles seem to be burning out – K-12 workers, including teachers, report the highest burnout rate in the American workforce. According to a Gallup poll, K-12 workers’ chronic exhaustion rate exceeds even those working in healthcare and law enforcement, whose rates are famously high and often discussed.

According to the research results, more than 40% of all teachers report they constantly or very often burn out at work. Of course, that is also negatively mirrored in their job performance. And considering that it directly impacts the quality of education that K-12 students receive, the problem must be tackled. High rates of burnout result in worse job performance, higher levels of sick leave, and the danger of teachers leaving the educational sphere.

Psychology Today reports burnout is a state of chronic stress that leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness. It can be shown as a lack of productivity, pessimism, even chronic fatigue, insomnia, depression, and loss of appetite.

And What Is the Cause of the Disturbing Burnout Data?

The research highlights five root causes for K-12 workers:

  • Unfair treatment at work,
  • Unmanageable workload,
  • Lack of role clarity,
  • Lack of communication and support from managers, and
  • Unreasonable expectations.

In addition, disturbing data about national teacher shortages also emerges. In the US, there are reportedly at least 36,000 vacant teacher positions and 163,000 positions currently being held by underqualified educators. Teaching is a highly rewarding and purposeful job, but it comes with numerous challenges because teachers usually play a handful of roles. They educate, raise, communicate with parents, handle a teen mental health crisis, and navigate countless other tasks. So the frequency of burnouts sadly comes with no surprise.

Teacher Burnout - When Teaching Becomes a Burden

In the process of lessening the long-term issue, even worsened by current pandemics, something must be done to protect the community in raising the next generation of workers, voters, and fully-functioning adults.

How to Tackle the Current Pandemic – Burnout

School management must ensure the teaching environment is stable and that teachers work under optimal conditions. Seeing as they present the person the students see the most, the educators should definitely be a part of the decision-making, considering anything concerning the learning process. Besides creating a safe working climate where teachers feel heard and like an important part of the team, they must be provided with any additional support possible.

Teacher Burnout - When Teaching Becomes a Burden

A good way of taking a part of the workload off their shoulders and averting burnout is by enabling them with proper technological support. Using artificial intelligence, teachers can spend more time preparing for classes and actually devote time to the learning process while being there for the students. Technology acting as a teacher’s assistant can, for example, do repetitive and routine operations such as grading papers and relieve them of tasks that do not require any intellectual work.

Besides being equipped with the hardware that enables them to carry out a technology-supported learning process, teachers’ work can also be noticeably enhanced by software that makes communication easier, allows for a smoother learning process, and simplifies imparting knowledge customized for each student and their needs.

What Can Teachers Do by Themselves?

Heavy workloads and long hours certainly leave a mark on the teaching workforce. It has even gotten to the point where the teaching profession is so demanding that high-stress levels have become socially accepted and are practically a part of the job. But that must simply not be the case. Besides wider school management solutions, teachers must also face burnout on their own – either by preventing it or beating it.

Teacher Burnout - When Teaching Becomes a Burden

Most importantly, maintaining general health, including regular physical activity and nourishing the mind, can be beneficial. That can be done by maintaining a healthy sleeping schedule, which directly benefits all biological procedures in the body. And not to forget maintaining a healthy diet – nurturing the body with all the nutrients needed.

Further, one should be mindful of taking enough time off and ensuring school work does not consume them. Continuing work after working hours only leads to additional stress and no time to unwind. Hence, setting clear boundaries between work and personal life is one of the main ways of not letting work stress overrule someone as a person. 

Additionally, burnout can ironically also be faced at the place where it usually starts – in schools. That is why it’s important to know how immensely important collaboration and coworkers’ support are. Sharing the load and helping each other with advice stimulates interconnectedness and lessens the feeling of isolation, making it easier to defy the crippling effects of being overworked.

It Is Time for a Change

Empowering teachers and making them feel heard and important is the starting point of the high-quality education the children need. A shared effort will surely be required to reform a profession where 40% leave the teaching force within the first five years. Problems, such as attrition, must be faced wisely and systematically. And modern tools, such as classroom monitoring software, are one way of solving problems like these because reducing the prevalence of teacher burnout is certainly one of the most important issues the modern school system is confronting.


[1] Putting Out Teacher Burnout

[2] The Tell Tale Signs of Burnout … Do You Have Them?

[3] Is there a national teacher shortage? A systematic examination of reports of teacher shortages in the United States