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3 Signs of a Burned Out Teacher

Updated on October 19, 2016

Teaching from the Heart

Teaching is a calling for a special group of individuals. It takes someone with a huge heart, an obscene amount of passion, and an even more obscene amount of patience, to dedicate their life to setting the foundation for the future with our children. Teaching is not for the faint of heart.

There are amazing moments when teachers get to sit back and look at the fruit of their labor, thoroughly enjoying the progressive steps their class has taken. Seeing their children smile with pride when they've utilized a lesson taught by their teacher, the warm smiles offered at the start of the day, and new found determination when encouraged are all seemingly small, but truly immeasurable rewards to an educator. Those heart lifting moments when a teacher get's to look back on the journey they've taken with their students and think "well, i've done a pretty great job so far".

Teacher's live for those moments.

They begin their days striving to recreate those moments.

But these moments come at the cost of educators pouring hours of their own time, resources, energy and heart into their teaching. And more often than not, that catches up with them quicker than they imagined.

Teacher Burn Out

When teacher burn out hits, it can hit particularly hard. This is in large part to the fact that most educators had long sense reached a point when they felt burned out well before they acknowledged the fact. Because of the nature of the job, many teachers try to continue to operate on the same high paced level they started off at, even when they feel overwhelmed and exhausted, in an attempt to keep providing their students the best of themselves as an educator. They have been running on empty before they even took a step towards admitting they might need a breather.

The Three Signs

Sometimes, the best way to combat burn out is the ability to identify it when it starts peering it's intrusive head into the classroom. Here are three signs of teacher burn out that can hopefully be prevented before it takes hold.

  1. Pessimism: Generally teachers all seems to share the common trait of seeing the glimmer of hope in children, even with every odd and obstacle stacked against that child. So when a teacher stops seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, it could be a red flag that they might be approaching burn out.
  2. Decline in health: our bodies are constantly sending us clues when something is not going smoothly, and a decline in mental wellness (teacher burn out is not a healthy state of mind) can manifest itself with physical repercussions. A teacher who is suddenly experiencing constant headaches, prone to colds and flu's and just doesn't feel well often could be showing signs of burn out.
  3. Sudden lack of inspiration. The world of possibility is always endless for a teacher and their classroom, so if suddenly a teacher is drawing a blank it's time to dedicate some extra attention to their self-care and burnout prevention/recovery. Suddenly feeling uninspired and bored by everything or not feeling inspired to break out of a repetitious rut is definitely a sign of burn out.

Burn Out Recovery

Once you can identify the signs of teacher burn out, it becomes easier to combat it. If if feels like you've already reached burn out, no worries; luckily it's something you can snap back from. Try these tips:

  • Reset your goals for the classroom. A fresh direction can jump start your motivation in the classroom.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help. Fully utilize the resources available to you to lighten your load, including professional development.
  • Practice Self-Care. Being a teacher doesn't mean you should neglect yourself. Make sure you're using lunch to actually eat and enjoy your free time without worrying about your work.
  • Rearrange and update your classroom. Even something simple like adding fresh flowers and plants can lift your mood
  • Take step back- when a difficult situation occur's, instead of engaging, give yourself permission to withdraw and approach it at a calmer moment, especially it you're feeling overwhelmed.

Teacher burn out is real and difficult, but luckily, it's not forever.


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