Every year a high number of educators experience teacher burnout. Teacher burnout not only negatively impacts a teacher’s health and career, but it also can be detrimental to academic excellence at the result of exhaustion, stress, pessimism, and depersonalized relationships. It becomes critical to identify the conversation drivers when it comes to understanding the root of teacher burnout and figuring out how to address it. Here, we look at five core issues at the root of teacher burnout.
- Unsupportive School Leaders
When one or more school leaders is not supportive, it creates high levels of stress and prevents teachers from finding success. When we surveyed over 400 teachers, we discovered that nearly two-thirds of teachers report having one or more school leaders who are unsupportive, making their job difficult and threatening staff morale.
But the problem here isn’t just that teachers encounter unsupportive school leaders. It’s made worse by how its handled. The survey also showed:
- 50% of teachers discuss unsupportive leaders with friends and family
- Over 66% share their concerns with fellow teachers
- Only one in five actually share their concerns with the unsupportive leader
When teachers actually manage to share their concerns with their administration, they become twice as likely to get the support they need and end up significantly more satisfied with their work environment.
- Finding failure in the classroom
It’s easy to tell when a peer is failing in the classroom: visible signs of conflict with students, hearing complaints, or even witnessing poor teaching or classroom management. More than three-quarters of teachers surveyed reported having one or more peers failing in the classroom. These teachers see the impact of failure: poor student learning, more work for other teachers, and all around increased stressed.
But again, studies show most teachers avoid these conversations; only 13 percent reported sharing their full concerns with the failing teacher. Likewise, we discovered that 35 percent of teachers referred the problem to a school leader, asking them to intervene. However, only half of those leaders followed up with the failing teacher.
When teachers step up and have this crucial conversation to resolve the problem with their struggling peers, it brings about satisfaction with the school, commitment to that school, more engaged teachers, and a less cynical environment.
- Teachers letting their peers down
Teachers understand the importance of collaboration, both within a department and schoolwide. While they collaborate on curriculum, team teaching, and issues like discipline, more than two-thirds feel dissatisfied with the performance of one or more of their peers. This kind of poor performance has consequences, like problems for school leaders, peers, and parents. Again, it comes down to conversation: fewer than one in five teachers has had these conversations with their peers, while the few teachers who speak up and share their full concerns are twice as likely to succeed in solving a problem.
- Parents who fail to support learning
While parents play a large role in the educational process by supporting, facilitating, and encouraging their children, seventy percent of teachers are currently struggling with parents who are failing to do their part to support their child’s education. And yet, only one third of these teachers have engaged in conversation with the parent over these issues. Teachers who communicate these concerns with parents are significantly more satisfied with their school and become more confident that they are making a difference.
- Students with behavioral problems
Our study revealed that eighty-six percent of teachers struggle with at least two students who are easily distracted, exhibit behavioral problems, and get in the way of their own learning or the learning of others. This not only makes the teacher’s job more difficult but create stress and tension and makes it difficult for all students to learn in that environment. Fortunately, this is the one area where teachers consistently share their concerns, with two-thirds of teachers sharing full concerns and 71 percent saying that this discussion improves behaviors
Identifying the key factors contributing to teacher burnout is the first step in helping to eliminate it, or at least broach the subject of addressing them to help alleviate stress.