Combating Teacher Burnout: The Reality of the Teaching Profession

teacher burnout

Teaching can be one of the most rewarding professions, but it is also rife with stress and fatigue. The amount of effort required from teachers — from classroom instruction to professional development to monitoring student progress and performance in extracurricular activities — can lead to burnout and disengagement over time. 

Teacher burnout has fallen into sharper focus as educators face the challenge of addressing students’ mental health needs amidst a universally complicated school year, making it increasingly crucial for our nation’s schools to provide the necessary support to combat this pervasive issue.

In this blog post, we will discuss teacher burnout and how mental health professionals, school leaders, administrators, and teachers themselves can take steps to promote a healthier learning environment for both students and teachers.

What Is Teacher Burnout?

Teacher burnout usually manifests as emotional exhaustion and begins when teachers become overwhelmed with the high workload of grading, creating lesson plans, and classroom management on top of their other daily responsibilities. Recognizing the signs is essential, as burnout can affect your psychological and physical health.

Burnout can also occur due to ideological factors like feeling disconnected from teaching materials and methods, dissatisfaction with policies or procedures, and unrealistic expectations from administration or parents.

classroom management

The Current State of Teacher Burnout in the United States

So many teachers are reportedly feeling overwhelmed and exhausted; it’s no wonder teacher burnout is rising.

A recent American Educational Research Association (AERA) report has revealed that teachers are 40 percent more likely to suffer from anxiety than healthcare workers in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

K-12 workers experience more burnout than any other occupation in the United States. 44 percent of teachers report that they are feeling overwhelmed by their workload and having difficulty managing stress.

While burned-out teachers were already struggling in the classroom before COVID-19 due to a teacher shortage and plummeting teacher preparation programs, the rise of remote and virtual learning and hybrid schooling models has taken a serious toll on the mental health of educators.

Causes of Teacher Burnout

There are various contributing factors to teacher burnout, including:

  • Long hours and excessive workloads: Many teachers are expected to put in extra hours after the regular school day, including planning and grading assignments, helping with extracurricular activities, and attending meetings.
  • Lack of administrative support: Teachers often feel unsupported by their administrators and need more resources to do their job effectively.
  • Unrealistic expectations from parents or school districts: Teachers are often expected to work miracles with limited resources and support. When parents or school districts set unreasonable expectations, this can be incredibly stressful and disheartening.
  • Insufficient pay: Low salaries and insufficient benefits can lead to burnout as teachers struggle to make ends meet while trying to give their students the best education possible.

Other causes, such as a lack of personal and professional resources and development opportunities, can also contribute to burnout.

Effects of Teacher Burnout

Teacher burnout is a serious problem that affects the well-being of those in the profession as well as school outcomes. As teaching is highly demanding and teachers often lack work-life balance, it’s unsurprising that education can easily lead to stress, fatigue, frustration, and burnout.

Burned-out teachers, or those who are fatigued, overwhelmed, or feel powerless in their classroom, can have negative consequences, often impacting students’ lives.

With teachers having to manage student behavior and deliver instructional content, burnout can result in slower reaction times to fix issues and the tendency to be more absent or disengaged. Additionally, many teachers experiencing burnout may need frequent job or position changes and longer breaks between jobs.

Further, when teachers are burned-out, they often don’t have the energy to foster camaraderie with colleagues; employee dissatisfaction may increase due to poor work performance and ineffective teaching standards from the burned-out teacher.

These additional issues only further stress an already taxed individual, making them less effective as a professional and less happy with their life.

Students can also suffer when their teachers are burned out. Teacher burnout can lead to lower student engagement and achievement and decreased motivation to strive for higher educational goals.

How To Address and Prevent Teacher Burnout

When schools combat teacher burnout, they can help create more positive learning environments for students.

Six Tips to Address and Prevent Teacher Burnout:

1. Create a Supportive Working Environment

School leaders can help create a supportive working environment for their teachers by providing mental health resources, such as counseling services. This will ensure that teachers have the support needed to cope with stress and tackle any roadblocks that may appear while educating students. 

Fostering an open dialogue between administrators and teachers is vital to successful collaboration. Offering spaces for meaningful discussion foments trust and understanding, setting the basis for a collaborative and supportive workplace atmosphere. 

Praise also goes a long way to boost teacher morale among administrators and teachers alike. Create monthly or biweekly recognition opportunities in team meetings or emails to build positive interactions and encourage productive environments.

These initiatives will show how much school leadership values its educators’ efforts and demonstrate appreciation to educators who strive daily to provide their best in impacting student lives.

2. Promote Meaningful Professional Development

Schools supporting the professional development of their teachers to equip them with the necessary skills to foster student growth and interests makes great teachers. Accordingly, to avoid burnout provide teachers with opportunities to stay informed about the latest teaching studies and trends.

For example, schools may organize workshops or seminars where educators can gain knowledge on the best approaches for engaging students without losing enthusiasm over time.

Including teachers to join problem-solving teams to design classroom curricula to further each teacher’s practices helps avoid teacher burnout. Encourage educators to participate in designing interactive instructional plans which yield better results, as both students and teachers benefit from the dynamics predetermined by such collaborators.

3. Provide Incentives To Engage in the Task

Giving teachers incentives has been demonstrated to help promote motivation and engagement in teaching tasks. Schools can start looking into offering bonuses such as salary increases or year-end awards to recognize those going above and beyond the call of duty.

Also, granting teachers appropriately paid vacation and additional benefits, like health care coverage and retirement benefits, are a great way to ensure that individuals in teaching positions have the opportunity for a healthy work-life balance. This helps improve job satisfaction and morale among teachers, which can have ripple benefits for the school and its pupils.

4. Give Teachers Mental Health Days

As numerous state legislatures and school districts have pushed to implement mental health days for students, similar initiatives could be considered for teachers to take a break from their classroom duties due to issues related to depression or anxiety.

RAND Corporation found that 78 percent of teachers reported frequent job-related stress, with one in five teachers saying stress harmed their mental health. To ensure that educators have the necessary time and resources to address these issues, schools could consider providing mental health days for their teachers as needed.

Doing so will give educators the space to combat any challenges they may be facing and receive the aid they need to get through that day healthily. As life becomes increasingly more demanding, mental health days will enable them to balance their personal and professional lives to achieve the highest possible results in the classroom.

5. Encourage a Culture of Respect

Teachers pour their hearts and souls into their job, often facing seemingly insurmountable difficulties. They deserve to feel validated for their hard work.

Administrators can demonstrate this simply by exhibiting open-heartedness and appreciation. Permitting teachers some control over how their classrooms run and operate allows them to try approaches that work best for them — priming a sense of independence but understanding that there must be harmony between teacher and school aspirations.

Doing this will also aid in creating an atmosphere of respect and trust between teachers, school administrators, students, and parents. This mutual understanding will translate into better classroom outcomes for all involved.

6. Allow Teachers To Have Fun

Most teachers seek the perfect balance of seriousness and playfulness in teaching. After all, there’s no reason why learning cannot be both fun and informative. Teachers must foster positive interpersonal relationships with their students and take time to join them in participating in educational activities.

To cultivate an encouraging classroom culture, educators should occasionally embrace a more lighthearted attitude and encourage their students to do the same. In doing so, authentic learning can occur without taking things too seriously.

School administrators can also schedule and organize extracurricular activities such as field trips and other events. Such activities establish trust between teachers and their pupils, forming much-needed bonds for successful learning.

How Teachers Can Prevent Burnout and Stay Motivated

The teaching profession requires tremendous energy and commitment, with extended hours and the responsibility to give students an exceptional education.

If you are a teacher, you already know the importance of staying motivated and avoiding burnout. To help keep your morale high and your enthusiasm for teaching alive, here are five tips to prevent burnout and remain motivated.

1. Take Time for Yourself

Teachers find creating space for themselves is important for their physical health and to combat emotional exhaustion. Allowing yourself even a few moments daily can help you maintain balance.

Ideas for how to spend this time could include taking a walk after school or using lunchtime to decompress with a book — that’s not related to teaching!

Better yet, carve out some time in the day to ground yourself through meditation. The significance of this pause should not be underestimated — it’s vital in giving your mind and body a fully deserved reprieve!

2. Make Time for Self-care

Teachers are expected to juggle many responsibilities in and out of the classroom; as a result, self-care tends to take a back seat. However, those who make it a priority to engage in activities to fight chronic stress, fight the causes of teacher burnout . This could be anything from taking a walk during the day, meditating at home, or treating yourself to do something special — it all counts!

When you find time for self-care, even the most seemingly mundane tasks will no longer seem impossible. You will feel refreshed and be able to handle your various administrative duties or confidently tackle academic challenges!

3. Reach Out for Support

Identifying when you’re feeling overwhelmed can be a challenge, and it is worth taking the time to examine how you feel regularly; this will allow you to take action when signs of stress start to appear.

Don’t wait until anxiety skyrockets before reaching out. Building a connected network of mentors, colleagues, and teachers will equip you with powerful tools that can help ward off overwhelming scenarios.

If in doubt, don’t hesitate to seek advice from trusted contacts who can offer invaluable guidance on managing your workload productively and stress-free!

Sometimes, it’s just the simple act of venting or connecting with people that can alleviate feelings of burnout.

4. Use Planning Tools

Making a timetable is one of the best ways to stay organized and make the most of your time. You don’t have to stick to a strict schedule either; planning tools allow you to adjust according to your requirements. 

One example of a planning tool is the Eisenhower Matrix which prioritizes tasks by dividing them into four quadrants. This technique can help you identify which items on your to-do list are urgent and essential and those that aren’t so pressing or important.

Apart from this, apps such as Evernote and Trello can also be used to track your progress, create checklists and to-dos, or set reminders.

5. Reward Yourself

Rewarding yourself is essential in any job — and teaching is no exception! Celebrating wins can be a great motivator, no matter how small the accomplishment might seem. Recognizing even minor successes, such as adopting a new teaching concept or simply getting through the day without needing an extra cup of coffee, is essential.


Putting a stop to teacher burnout is no easy feat. However, with help and effort from administrators, parents, support networks, and colleagues, teachers can be equipped with the necessary resources for success. 

Further, teachers must prioritize their well-being and take proactive steps in caring for themselves and managing their workload. With the combination of collective support and self-care, teachers can face challenges more confidently and continue leading their students to success even in tough times.


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