Teachers burn out as they are burning alone

Teacher burnout rate has always been a concern. Teachers burn out as they carry the burden of the education system, policies, national ideologies, global perspectives, parental demands, societal pressures while doing their day-to-day job. Burnout is definite and drastic! Teachers burn out as they are burning alone, all other stakeholders in education are adding fuel to this burnout. How can important stakeholders help prevent teacher burnout?

Role of Society – Teaching is considered a noble profession but at the same time not a highly rewarding (monetarily) job. On top of that everyone has a say into the teaching business of teachers. Teachers groom the next generation of thinkers, doctors, sportsmen, artists hence they need the utmost reverence and respect. The respect in the profession will help in addressing the most important cause of teacher burnout-emotional or affective exhaustion, as teachers will feel valued and needed. A few things to be considered:

  1. Remuneration at par with other industries in terms of experience and qualification,  investing in education by increasing teacher salary will bring in the much-needed esteem and respect to the profession leading to self-actualisation for teachers
  2. Retirement benefits especially for teachers, this will keep teachers in their profession, and act as a retention incentive to prevent turnover or burnout.
  3. The societal value of the profession has to change, a country’s GDP is deeply connected to its literacy rate. Teachers have most of the responsibility for improving the literacy rate, hence society needs to invest in teacher well-being and value. As per World Economic Forum 2021, Finland has the world’s best education system as they invest in teacher training and value the profession (Colagrossi, n.d.); in fact, teachers has the same prestige as a doctor or engineer.

Role of School -The organisation that is responsible for educating the youth has to be responsible for the wellbeing of its teachers. Schools can play the most critical role in preventing teacher burnout. As a business management teacher, I am able to identify one of the main reasons for burnout is the lack of motivation, intrinsic or extrinsic. Here are a few things schools can do to avoid this:

  1. Invest in an experienced and supportive human resources (HR) department. A strong HR can ensure that teachers are supported with their basic needs, they feel safe, motivated and happy to work. The HR should also be responsible to create and maintain teacher professional development framework.
  2. A clear and detailed job description (JD) with an outline of expectations is another big necessity, this is also a requirement for getting an international accreditation. The JD should limit non-teaching duties and focus on the core skill of teaching. 
  3. A support system for teachers should be put together by the school, for example, hiring an adequate number of teacher assistants, meeting all software and hardware requirements, creating a culture of teacher appreciation and of course reviewing the salary scale to be fair to all teachers.

Role of Students – Students can act as a catalyst to break down a teacher. Disruptive, disengaged and disobedient students are a product of multiple failures of the school, society and parents; but the blame is always on the teacher. On top of it, teachers are victims of violence in the hands of students; from verbal abuse to physical abuse to being shot, teachers have experienced it all. Students need to foster a mutual relationship of respect and understanding as this directly impacts their future.

  1. Students should sign and comply with a behaviour agreement to be cognizant of their responsibilities in a classroom.
  2. Students should undergo orientation at the beginning of the year to be more accountable for their academic and non-academic performance in school.
  3. Students should be made to realise that their success is an outcome of a healthy partnership with teachers. 

Role of Staff – Teachers can get the most needed support from peers; #staffforstaff. Teachers understand each other’s challenges hence should offer solutions to common problems:

  1. Form support groups and professional learning communities to provide an open platform for discussing curriculum-related issues. Be a part of existing groups either within the school community or outside like social media groups.
  2. Create a teacher ready toolkit to ease the transition for newbies in the school or into teaching. This should have all necessary resources for effectively managing a classroom for a newbie, for example, a list of all staff with phone numbers or subject guides or past papers/assessments, unit plans etc.
  3. Encourage, motivate each other, a kind word goes a long way and comes back quickly; smile and say something kind to your peers and it will come back to you.

Teacher burnout can be prevented; if you are reading this, you have a part to play. Support the growth of the next generation by strengthening the foundation-the teacher.

Colagrossi, M. W. (n.d.). 10 reasons why Finland’s education system is the best in the world. Retrieved January 28, 2021, from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/09/10-reasons-why-finlands-education-system-is-the-best-in-the-world

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