Teacher Burnout Syndrome

· December 15, 2018

Stress represents one of the most serious problems in today’s society. Almost everyone feels stressed on a regular basis. Although we have come to accept it as a normal thing, it can actually cause many long-term problems. One of the most common ones is teacher burnout syndrome.

This problem is especially serious due to its high incidence and the consequences it has on our children’s education. In this article, we tell you more about this syndrome, its characteristics, and its causes. In addition, we also tell you what you can do to prevent it, whether you’re a teacher or the parent of a school-age child.

What is teacher burnout syndrome?

People who have teacher burnout syndrome have had high stress levels for a prolonged period of time. These people accumulate increasing mental, emotional and even physical exhaustion. Due to this, their work performance suffers. The individual who experiences it can feel really awful.

Teacher burnout syndrome makes teachers feel sad and tired.

Teacher burnout syndrome is nothing more than a specific variation of burnout for professionals in the education field. Due to new educational challenges, such as teachers’ loss of authority or students’ rebellion, many educators are dissatisfied with their work. They may present a large number of stress-related symptoms.

Most of the cases are produced by unmet expectations. Teachers had an idea of what their work would be like, but reality may have turned out different. This can cause cognitive dissonance which may lead to the manifestation of teacher burnout syndrome.

Most common symptoms of teacher burnout syndrome

1. Emotional exhaustion

One of the main indicators that this problem exists is feeling powerless. This feeling is intense and prolongs over a long period of time. As in most stress-related syndromes, the person’s emotions go haywire and they tend to feel sad, tired, and unwilling to do anything.

This can even cause some teachers to develop physiological problems, such as insomnia, headaches, or intestinal problems.

2. Low personal fulfillment

One of the main causes of teacher burnout syndrome is the impossibility of doing the job the way the teacher would like. Therefore, they tend to be very dissatisfied with the work they do. This dissatisfaction translates into a feeling of failure or defeat, as well as the belief that one is powerless in the classroom.

This sense of failure could even extend to other areas of the teacher’s life, generating problems in the teacher’s personal relationships and in other aspects of their daily life.

3. Depersonalization

Teachers who suffer from this syndrome feel helpless and useless. In many cases, they tend to lose all interest in their work. Thus, their passion for what they do disappears. They begin to do their tasks mechanically, which can lead to a vicious circle that makes them feel even worse about their teaching.

Teachers with teacher burnout syndrome perform their jobs mechanically.

How to deal with the problem

Teacher burnout syndrome is a serious problem that can affect both the quality of children’s education and the teachers’ personal lives. But what can we do to solve it?

  • If you’re a teacher and you notice that you have developed some of the symptoms described above, the best thing you can do is learn some stress management techniques. Some of the most effective ones include mindfulness or progressive muscle relaxation. However, if you believe that your problem is out of control, going to a psychologist can be very helpful.
  • If you’re a parent, you can also do your part to help your children’s teachers avoid this problem. Teach your children to put themselves in their teacher’s place. They should also try to facilitate their educational work as much as possible.

While it’s still important to work with teachers who are already suffering from burnout, preventative steps may be even more important. This is where our responsibility as a society comes into play, whether we dedicate our lives to teaching or not.

  • Hakanen, J. J., Bakker, A. B., & Schaufeli, W. B. (2006). Burnout and work engagement among teachers. Journal of School Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsp.2005.11.001
  • Schwarzer, R., & Hallum, S. (2008). Perceived teacher self-efficacy as a predictor of job stress and burnout: Mediation analyses. Applied Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1464-0597.2008.00359.x
  • Flook, L., Goldberg, S. B., Pinger, L., Bonus, K., & Davidson, R. J. (2013). Mindfulness for teachers: A pilot study to assess effects on stress, burnout, and teaching efficacy. Mind, Brain, and Education. https://doi.org/10.1111/mbe.12026