The teaching profession is CRAZY stressful. Teacher burnout is epidemic and is the direct cause of some sad statistics. Fifty-five percent of U.S. teachers report their morale was low and declining (National Union of Teachers, 2013). Forty to fifty percent of new teachers leave the profession in the first five years (Ingersoll, 2012).
I am a huge proponent of solutions based thinking and building resilience in educators. That being said, I am well aware of the need to know and understand the causes of this growing problem. By having this information, we can keep an eye out and develop strategies to decrease or reverse teacher burnout and increase teacher resilience. This information is valuable to teachers (pre-service and veteran) and administrators, but parents and community members need to understand this as well. Teacher burnout is not a problem that can be solved in isolation, so we must raise awareness of the causes outside of the field of education.
After reading and researching and asking fellow educators, I developed the following list of possible causes of teacher burnout:
- An extreme number of responsibilities above and beyond instruction
- A lack of administrative support
- An over-emphasis on standardized testing
- Evaluation of teachers based on standardized testing scores
- Increasingly difficult student behavior with increases in frequency and severity
- Home lives of children that teachers cannot control
- A lack of personnel/proper staffing
- Forcing teachers to teach outside of area of expertise
- Inadequate prep time
- Extreme amounts of paperwork
- A lack of respect for the profession
- Challenging interactions with parents
- A lack of resources
- A lack of training for new initiatives and technology
I’m sure you can add to the list based on your experiences or those of your colleagues. More important than just listing the issues, is sharing the information and raising awareness. Consider writing a letter to the editor of your local paper or asking the superintendent to discuss the issue at an open school board meeting. Maybe, an email to your legislative representative is in order. No matter what you decide, remember the importance of developing possible solutions.
Tell us your ideas for raising awareness about the causes of teacher burnout below.
Read more about how to recognize, avoid & combat teacher burnout by downloading our tip sheet, "How to Keep the Spark in Your Teaching."
Other Teacher Burnout Resources:
- Increase Teacher Resilience & Combat Teacher Burnout Video Blog
- Warning Signs of Teacher Burnout
- Why Did You Become a Teacher? Identify Your Why Video Blog
- Prevent Teacher Burnout: Get Rid of Fluff
- Burns, J. (2013, January 2). Teacher morale 'dangerously low' suggest survey [Web log post]. Retrieved January 12, 2018, from http://www.bbc.com/news/education-20877397
- Ingersoll, R.M. (2012, May 16). Beginning teacher induction: What the data tell us: Induction is an education reform whose time has come. Education Week. Retrieved from https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/05/16/kappan_ingersoll.h31.html
- Seidel, A. (2014). The teacher dropout crisis. NPR. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/blogs/ed/2014/07/18/332343240/the-teacher-dropout-crisis?utm_campaign=storyshare&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=social