Teacher Burnout: When School Takes Its Toll

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As a teacher, I know first hand the immense pressure that comes with the job. From lesson planning to grading papers to managing a classroom full of students, the workload can be overwhelming. It's no surprise that many teachers experience burnout at some point in their career. In fact, a recent study found that nearly half of all teachers in the UK have considered leaving the profession due to stress and workload.

Teacher burnout can have serious consequences for both teachers and their students. When teachers are burnt out, they may become disengaged from their work and less effective in the classroom. This can lead to lower student achievement and a negative impact on the overall school environment. It's important for schools to recognise the signs of burnout and take steps to support their teachers' wellbeing. In this article, we'll explore the causes of teacher burnout and offer tips for preventing and managing it in the school setting.

Understanding Teacher Burnout


As a teacher, I have experienced burnout firsthand. Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged stress. It is a feeling of being overwhelmed and unable to meet the demands of your job. Burnout can cause feelings of cynicism, detachment, and a lack of motivation. It can also lead to mental and physical health issues.


There are many factors that contribute to teacher burnout. One of the main causes is stress. Teachers are often under a lot of pressure to meet deadlines, manage large classes, and deal with difficult students. This can lead to high stress levels and emotional exhaustion.

Another cause of burnout is a lack of control. Teachers may feel like they have little control over their workload, curriculum, or teaching methods. This can lead to feelings of frustration and helplessness.

Overworking is also a major cause of teacher burnout. Teachers often work long hours, take work home, and have little time for self-care. This can lead to physical exhaustion and fatigue.

Finally, trauma and secondary trauma can also contribute to burnout. Teachers may experience trauma from dealing with difficult students or from hearing about traumatic events in their students' lives. This can lead to emotional exhaustion and depersonalization.

It is important for schools to address teacher burnout and provide support for their staff. This can include offering mental health resources, reducing workload and stress levels, and promoting a healthy work-life balance. By addressing teacher burnout, schools can improve the well-being of their staff and create a positive learning environment for their students.

Effects of Teacher Burnout

On Teachers

As someone who has experienced teacher burnout, I can attest to the fact that it can have a significant impact on educators. Here are some of the effects that I have personally experienced:

  • Increased stress levels: When you're burnt out, everything feels like a chore. Even the simplest tasks can feel overwhelming, leading to increased stress levels.

  • Decreased job satisfaction: When you're burnt out, it's hard to find joy in your work. You may start to feel like you're just going through the motions, which can lead to decreased job satisfaction.

  • Physical symptoms: Burnout can manifest itself in physical symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and even stomach problems.

On Students

Unfortunately, teacher burnout doesn't just affect educators; it can also have a negative impact on students. Here are some of the effects that I've seen in my own classroom:

  • Decreased engagement: When teachers are burnt out, they may not have the energy or motivation to engage with their students. This can lead to decreased engagement from students, which can ultimately impact their learning.

  • Poor classroom management: Burnt out teachers may struggle with classroom management, leading to disruptions and a lack of structure in the classroom.

  • Reduced academic performance: When students aren't engaged and there's a lack of structure in the classroom, academic performance can suffer.

It's worth noting that the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated teacher burnout. The added stress of teaching during a pandemic has made it even more challenging for educators to avoid burnout.

Prevention and Management of Teacher Burnout

Work-Life Balance

As a teacher, I have come to understand the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance. This involves setting aside time for activities that I enjoy outside of school, such as hobbies or spending time with family and friends. By doing so, I am able to recharge my batteries and return to work feeling refreshed and energised.

To achieve a healthy work-life balance, I have found it helpful to set clear boundaries between my work and personal life. For example, I try to avoid checking my work emails outside of school hours, and I make sure to take regular breaks throughout the day to rest and recharge.

Time Management

Effective time management is another key factor in preventing teacher burnout. By prioritising my tasks and breaking them down into manageable chunks, I am able to stay on top of my workload and avoid feeling overwhelmed.

To manage my time effectively, I use tools such as to-do lists and calendars to keep track of my tasks and deadlines. I also try to avoid multitasking, as I have found that this can actually be less efficient than focusing on one task at a time.

Support Systems

Having a strong support system in place is essential for preventing and managing teacher burnout. This can include colleagues, mentors, and friends and family outside of school.

I have found it helpful to connect with other teachers in my school and in online communities to share ideas and offer support. I also make sure to seek out help when I need it, whether it be from a mentor or a mental health professional.

Teacher Self-Efficacy

Finally, building and maintaining a strong sense of teacher self-efficacy can help to prevent burnout and increase job satisfaction. This involves developing a belief in one's own ability to make a difference in the lives of students, and taking steps to continually improve one's teaching practice.

To build my own sense of self-efficacy, I set achievable goals for myself and celebrate my successes along the way. I also seek out opportunities for professional development and reflection, as this helps me to continually improve my teaching practice and feel more confident in my abilities.


Well, that's it folks! I've covered a lot of ground in this article about teacher burnout in the school setting. As a teacher myself, I know firsthand how stressful and demanding this job can be. The National Education Association reports that teacher burnout is a real problem, affecting up to 50% of teachers at some point in their careers.

But just because burnout is common doesn't mean it's inevitable. There are things we can do to prevent burnout and take care of ourselves. For example, we can:

  • Set boundaries: It's important to have a work-life balance and not let teaching consume our entire lives.
  • Seek support: Whether it's from colleagues, friends, or a therapist, we need to have people we can turn to for help and support.
  • Take care of our physical health: Eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep are all important for our well-being.
  • Find ways to recharge: Whether it's through hobbies, travel, or just taking time to relax, we need to find ways to recharge our batteries.

As I wrap up this article, I want to remind you that if you're feeling burnt out, you're not alone. It's a common problem, but it's one that can be addressed. Take care of yourself, seek support when you need it, and remember that you're doing important work. Keep fighting the good fight, my fellow teachers!

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