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  • LaToya Henry

How do teachers know they are suffering from burnout?

Updated: Aug 16, 2019

It is that time of year where teachers are gearing up for the summer holidays, whilst the rest of the working population are slightly green with envy. However, there is a darker side of the profession.

Despite the students being on holiday nearly 3 months of the year (plus INSET days), teachers are increasingly leaving the profession due to work-related stress and burnout.

As work and home life pressures increases, burnout is becoming more prevalent, but how do you know if it is affecting you?

Signs that you are suffering from burnout

This is not exclusive to teachers, but I regularly have to provide reminders to teachers in sessions with me that they are not invincible to wearing themselves to the ground:

  • A lack of interest in things

  • Dreading the thought of going to work the next day

  • Feeling defeated after work

  • Lack of concentration

  • Putting a strain on your relationships with others

  • Negatively impacting your sleep pattern

  • Irritability

  • Frequently being ill

  • Using alcohol, drugs and/or food as a coping mechanism

What is causing teachers' stress and burnout?

There are multiple factors that contribute to this answer and I do not think this short blog post would do it justice:

  • Increasing class sizes

  • Performance Related Pay (PRP)

  • Target driven culture

  • Unrealistic management expectations

  • Long working hours

  • Teacher shortages

  • Managing students' behaviour and emotional well-being

  • Budget cuts

  • OFSTED results

The list could go on and on. I have personally seen in counselling and reflective practice sessions with teachers and school senior leaders the physical and mental toll it takes on them. My aim as a practitioner is to provide them with the space and tools to combat this.

Despite there being many external factors that contribute to teachers' stress levels, I regularly encourage my clients to try and adopt some simple techniques to ensure that they are employing self-care strategies. As a little disclaimer, I appreciate that sometimes this can be easier said than done, especially if the school environment is extremely busy. Also, these techniques are not only for teachers, but anyone working in a highly pressurised environment.

5 ways you can reduce your stress level at work

  • It is important to try and leave your work at work, or if marking and planning is the bane of your life, try to set a designated amount of time that you will fully concentrate on the task. The same way you need to end your lesson on time for the arrival of the next class, the same boundaries are needed when working at home

  • During the school day, try and talk with some of your colleagues and not about how Johnny was disruptive in lesson 2. It is vital to offload, but not at the cost of all conversations being negative. Instead, use the time to talk about non-work related things

  • Get out of the school building, even if it is for 5 minutes. The change of scenery could do you some good

  • Throughout the week create a specific time where you enjoy your hobbies, schedule meet ups or phone conversations with others. With the advancement of technology, we are frequently using only social media to communicate with people, which ironically takes away the real meaning of being 'social'

  • Learning to say no! Or telling people that you will get back to them regarding their request, so you have time to process your thoughts and actions first.

As this is a time when the school academic year is coming to an end and hopefully teachers are taking this time to recharge before the start of the new school year in September 2019, I would like to give a round of applause for all of their hard work as they are nurturing and educating our future generation, whilst managing their own emotional health and life.

If you are interested in scheduling a reflective practice consultation, you are able to book online.


Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash