Ep 80 Overcoming Teacher Burnout

Dec 06, 2022

Have you ever Googled or looked up on YouTube the words “Why I Quit Teaching”?  Well, for research purposes for this podcast and my recently revamped YouTube channel, I have. And let me tell you, it is astounding the number of videos and posts out there that expound on this topic.

Begging for someone to listen - at social events, teachers find and talk to each other because they can relate. Everyone has had a teacher and been in school, therefore everyone can have an opinion on best teaching practices, yet no one wants to do the job.  Just look up the rates at which college students are getting degrees and certifications in education… it’s jaw dropping.

Keep fighting.  Gone are the days of the old condescending adage, those who can, do, those who can’t teach.  Guess what… it looks like almost no one can teach.  But you can teacher-friend.  You show up, and that’s better than most nowadays.  Take pride in that.

And in this episode we’ll talk about overcoming teacher burnout not in a how-to, step by step process because it’s not linear. So we’re just going to chat, teacher-to-teacher, and get real about the real reasons teachers are quitting and what in the world to do about burning out.

Sustainable Teacher Challenge

We are talking about all things sustainable teaching on this podcast  - whether it’s sustainable grading, systems at home, or classroom strategies - it’s all about helping you feel supported and sustained.  If you’re feeling you want more - more ways to be sustainable, or tips and ideas from me and my team at Teach  On A Mission, I want to challenge you.  Meaning, I want to welcome you to our totally free 7-day Sustainable Teacher Challenge.  Each day I’ll show up in your email with a training video and a workbook of prompts that will help you reflect on and ultimately make more sustainable decisions for your classroom.  You can register when you’re ready by going to teachonamission.com/sustainableteacherchallenge which is linked in the show notes to get started today.

Overcoming Teacher Burnout

Before we get into it, I have to refer you to a previous episode of mine on the same topic, but through a different lens and that is episode 68 working through the Shame of Teacher Burnout.

  1. Get on your high horse for a moment. Know your value.  Like I said in the intro - no one else is lining up to do your job… because they can’t handle it.  Let that empower you.
    1. Slippery slope there - but I’m all for letting the fact that no one else is lining up to do your job empower you in a way that allows you to show up and feel empowered, but not in a way to use it against others.  Not in a way to say you don’t need to do your job as well as when there are people lined up at the door, but I don’t need to say that to you - nope, you’re in it for the right reasons.
  2. Know what is burning you out and take a freaking break from it.
    1. Sounds super stupid-simple, but here’s what I mean
      1. Instagram and pinterest burns me out like nothing I’ve experienced in my life, and yet it’s so addicting - I can’t overcome the scroll.
      2. Emotional fatigue
      3. Decision fatigue
      4. The negative lunchroom or that negative colleague - takes so much self awareness (and kindness) to be able to notice the need for separation here and then actually separate.  But it’s so necessary.  And you can do it.

  1. You can handle more, and therefore have a higher burnout threshold, if your body is fit for the task.
    1. As much as teaching is the field of academia and we picture reading books and working formulas and other tasks that keep you seated and at a desk… it’s just not true.
      1. From changing decor to chasing kids to walk the room and the halls and the cafeteria to working bus duty to sprinting to the bathroom or coke machine and back in a matter of 45 seconds teaching is a physical job.
      2. Likewise, emotion is physical as well.  If our bodies are not fit, it won’t handle all the emotions as well as it could.
      3. Recent poll on instagram stories and the overwhelming response is that I do not have the time of day to even think about my own health.
      4. You have to come first - not just in your minds or mythical priorities - but on your calendar.  Schedule in your walks or your workouts, and if that means you assign and therefore grade less papers, so freaking be it.  It means your quality of life increases a bit and lasts a little longer and that’s good for all of your future students.
  2. REcent levy failure story and how I was thinking so much of teachers - failed levies, what equates to lack of community support is exactly why teachers quit.  Why they burnout and quit.
    1. Reminder - have you ever had a student who didn’t value the activity your were doing or the lesson you were teaching?  But you kept at it. You adapted and remediated and accommodated and changed things up as needed until they got it.
      1. I know it’s hard, but couldn’t we say the same about our communities?
      2. Not saying it’s your or the school’s job to show the community or the world your value (it is someone’s job, and I could expound on that in an entire new episode, maybe I will), but that’s not what I’m saying.
      3. What I am saying is that you having that understanding will serve you - it will allow you to know that you are valuable, even when others don’t see it, and to trust that someday they will see it. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not even in your career, but they will see it, and you’ll keep showing up for their children in spite of them.  We are part of the system of a community, but we are also the exact reason why so many children can beat the system - can rise up and do better for themselves, in spite of the system.


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