Teacher Burnout

Teacher burnout is REAL. Burnout in any profession is real, but the burnout for a teacher is on another level that I believe is unmatched. It is complex and multi-layered and not easy to point out immediately until one just stops and steps away. It actually hurts to be burnt out, the complexity of this is that it is not a pain that someone exerts on you directly, or a pain that is felt instantly like a hot plate. The sad truth is sometimes we exert it on ourselves, due to lack of boundaries and inability to say no, because inherently teachers can be serial people pleasers at times.

I always tell people that I am surrounded by people ALL THE TIME that at the end of the day or even the end of the week I just want to be by myself and that lowkey translates to I just want to sleep all day, binge watch a series or have a lame, unthemed movie marathon. At the end of it I just feel unfulfilled and unproductive.

I attended a workshop titled “Avoiding Burnout” it was meant for teachers given that it was part of this bigger event called Spring School for Teachers. They explained the difference between stress and anxiety:

And then go on to explain how it physically shows itself and affects our bodies

It sucks to admit that I have gone through it all, all of the above. I completely dropped the ball. The past term has been the most challenging and really it is because of the added responsibilities as I stepped into a new role as part of the school middle management team. I’m honoured but I never imagined the extra level of duty. I don’t regret, I just feel that because everything is new to me that is what makes it come across as difficult and time consuming and exhausting.

In this workshop they say that teachers are both “people pleasers” and “perfectionists”. Nothing could be more true. We want to please the boss, the subject advisors, the parents, the learners and then believe by pleasing them only then we please ourselves. Everything we do should have zero mistake, zero flaws and only we can get it right when we do it ourselves (poor delegation). My colleague and I talk about this all the time, as we are both Grade Heads, we should start delegating but also we are both deadline keepers and lowkey get frustrated when things don’t get done. Vicious downward spiral we are in.

Solutions that came up are to set boundaries. Have good, healthy routines included into our daily activities. We tend to think self-care happens only at the end of something – end of a hectic task, end of school term, end of school year, but that is actually what is killing us slowly. Self-care is daily. Another interesting thing I learned is that when approaching burnout and we get to that negative, self-isolation stage, we should do the complete opposite of how we feel. If you feel negative, be positive. If you want to be alone, force yourself to be with people – I thought about this one, I’m with people all day, I am a teacher after all. But I guess I need to be with people outside my workspace.

What really gets me through is, of course, my sense of purpose and personal goals. Then on a daily basis having teacher besties to share burdens with and to laugh where and when we can about everything. Laughter is the best medicine.

Anyways, I don’t want to get to a point where I stop writing. It was heartbreaking but I was physically unable and that has been my wake up call. I’m a working progress and I really need to do better.

Thank you and welcome back to me!

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