Teacher burnout is a phrase you might hear pretty often these days. The thing is I don’t think some people really understand why. You get summers off, you have good hours (some at least), and you also have scheduled breaks. The problem with these thoughts is that they are really only slightly true and they leave out what really happens in the classroom.
Do teachers really get summers off?
In a sense, yes, but in reality you have to get your classroom organized again, start planning what lessons you want to do, and don’t even make me mention the three weeks of professional development I had to endure last summer. Let me add that we our last day is not even until the second week of June, so am I really getting a summer break??
Teacher hours are easy
For some teachers, yes, they get to have their students from 8-2 or 9-3. Unfortunately I made the rookie mistake of accepting a position this school year for school hours of 8am- 4:15pm. That’s 8 hours of kids if you counted. They can also come to school at 7:30am to eat breakfast in their classroom, so really it’s longer than that. For me my hours are longer and it really really stinks. Lesson learned though. As for other teachers even though they may not have students after those hours, there is still endless amounts of grading, planning, and organizing (because let’s be honest kids are so messy).
Oh the behaviors you will get to see in a classroom
For some lucky teachers out there they will have a class with perfect angels who just know what to do and when to do it. A student has thrown a chair at me. I had a pencil thrown at my head because I moved on before the student was ready. The daily surprises are really endless. I was called every name in the book by a 7-year old, had my wrist pulled so hard that it swelled, and can hear children scream now in my sleep. This is really where the burnout begins. The behaviors are really where we are getting dragged down. Along with no help, too little or too much parent interaction, and having to do all the work listed above.
I have had so many crazy behaviors this year. Some of them I can’t even believe they have happened in a first grade class.
Nothing will make your blood boil so much when a kid has just traumatized the class by throwing a chair at their teacher (or even sadder when they are just used to it at that point), and you see them walking back into the classroom. Or when your wrist is swollen and hurts to use and your principal doesn’t even bat an eye. I get not wanted to expel students. Because you don’t know where they will end up, but what are we really teaching them? Certainly not the reality. We are teaching them that they can abuse and hurt people and they will still be there for them to do it again, they their choices have no real consequences, and that they deserve more attention than the other students in their class. They start building excuses.
Are we really helping students by ignoring these behaviors?
I wish I had an answer to this problem though. I just know the behaviors they are showing will get them put in jail and we are not showing them justice by brushing their choices off and stopping them from going down that path. Teacher burnout from these behaviors are increasing.
Teachers are under so much stress
Headaches, psoriasis, acne, and arthritis flair ups are just a few symptoms that I know of teachers around me (and myself) are experiencing coming from stress. With no help for behaviors, pressures of getting good test scores, and less personal time to help relieve stress; teachers are experiencing the side affects.
While these examples are just from my own experiences and feelings, I know many others that feel the same. Teachers are rock stars that do not get the recognition we deserve! So the next time you see a teacher you know or one you’ve just met; buy them a drink because they probably need it.
It is really no surprise to me when I see that the number of teachers changing their careers within their first three years. We don’t get paid enough for all that we go through. The teacher burnout is real, and if we want quality teachers in our schools, then we need to start making changes now.