First, let’s acknowledge that burnout does not happen overnight. Rather, it is an exhausting process in which an individual is gradually drained of energy, progressively develops distant or cynical attitudes, and ceases to feel as if they are making a difference in their work. Wright (2003) would add that “it is a problem born out of good intentions because it happens when individuals try to reach unrealistic goals and end up depleting their energy and losing touch with themselves and others.” (as cited in Espeland, 2006). Teacher burnout is a serious and complex issue with no easy solution. However, there are a lot of things we can do help prevent it from happening, whether you are an at-risk teacher, or a school leader.
The best defense is a good offense; the old sports adage can also illustrate that the best intervention for burnout is indeed burnout prevention. By remaining vigilant and remaining attentive to the warning signs of burnout, it may be possible to alter an individual’s path before things get too complicated. Espeland (2006) cataloged a collection of strategies to help nurses find their way out of burnout. Having experienced burnout myself, I know that I would not have been receptive to these strategies by the time I needed a leave of absence. However, they may have been helpful at the beginning of my downward spiral. With that in mind, here are a few of the strategies suggested by Espeland (2006) (also known as things I would tell my younger self):
to err is human, to forgive, divine. Remember also that forgiveness does not mean approving of a harmful act: you forgive a person not the act.
Principals & School Leaders
In order to prevent job burnout among your staff members, many options are available. By even making the effort to take care of your employees’ mental health, you are taking a step in the right direction. Coates & Howe (2015) determined a few key aspects in the design and development of staff wellbeing initiatives. An integral component of any wellbeing initiative is to involve the staff members in the development process as much as possible, as their needs and issues are the objective.
Coates, D. D., & Howe, D. (2015). The design and development of staff well being initiatives: staff stressors, burnout and emotional exhaustion at children and young people’s mental health in Australia. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research, 42(6), 655-663.
Espeland, K. E. (2006). Overcoming burnout: how to revitalize your career.The journal of continuing education in nursing 37(4), 178-184.
Grandey, A., Foo, S. C., Groth, M., & Goodwin, R. E. (2012). Free to be you and me: a climate of authenticity alleviates burnout from emotional labor.Journal of occupational health psychology, 17(1), 1.
My name is