How to Cope with Teacher Burnout

- Accept it, then deal with it...

Teacher Burnout

Teacher burnout is often the result of too much to do, and too little time to do it. Here are some ideas to help you get back on track.

Firstly, burnout can be defined as feeling:

teacher burnout
  • Emotionally exhausted
  • Frustrated
  • Powerless
  • Unappreciated
  • Overworked
  • Worn down
  • Constantly tired
  • Little or no motivation
  • No sense of achievement

When you go through this list, do you suspect you could be experiencing teacher burnout?

Take two minutes to answer these questions to get a better idea…

  • When I get up on a weekday I feel…
  • When I walk into my classroom at the start of the day, I think…
  • My 3 top reasons for going to work each day are…
  • I believe my managers think I…
  • My family think my work is making me…
  • My progress towards my personal goals is…
  • Most days, my students’ achievement and well being is…
  • On Sunday evenings I feel…
  • The pressure I feel most comes from…
  • The recognition I get comes from…
  • The recognition I want should come from…
  • What wears me down most is…

Burnout can seem overwhelming. Whatever you do to fight it can seem just a drop in the ocean. That attitude is understandable, but it leaves you stuck in a situation that, at best, stagnates or, at worst, leads to a breakdown.

What’s the solution?

As with most things, prevention is better than cure. There’s no clear line to cross to define teacher burnout – it happens in degrees. So, whatever stage you feel you’re at, you have three choices:


Leave your position - how would your pride and finances handle downshifting to fewer days or responsibilities?

Change your school - is burnout caused by your current school? If so, are you in a position to move elsewhere?

Leave education – everyone loves the holidays (don’t they?), but do you love teaching enough? More accurately, do you love the minority (the teaching) enough to put up with the majority (everything else)?


Get it off your chest. Complain to people who will listen but won’t do anything. Will this make you feel better or improve the situation? If not…


The hardest, but most effective way to beat burnout. You could say it includes ‘Quit’, but in this context, it assumes you stay in your current role.

  1. Ask someone to be your mentor or, better still, set up a coaching or mentoring service in your school. Is anything more effective than solution focused talking to affect change?
  2. Make an appointment to see whoever you believe will be most likely to raise awareness and actually tackle the issue.
  3. Improve your time management.

A final thought - you create or allow everything you experience...

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