Teaching in a COVID-19 world has certainly brought about new challenges for teachers everywhere. As schools close and learning from home becomes the “new normal,” teachers are faced with a myriad of obstacles including technological difficulties, lack of parental involvement, deteriorating student engagement, and more. To make matters worse, no one is immune to the isolation and economic uncertainties the pandemic has brought. For these reasons and others, teacher burnout continues to be a very relevant topic.
At Walden University, not only are we are proud to educate educators, we’re also devoted to the success of our students and graduates. In light of the current challenges, we would like to share a recent article on the topic of teacher burnout in hopes that it will benefit educators and administrators.
At the 2019 National Teacher Leadership Conference in Orlando, Florida, Jennifer Teasdale, a member of the product management team in The Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership at Walden University, convened educators with decades of combined experience for an insightful and timely discussion about burnout.
Walden, a longtime supporter of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY), which hosts the annual conference, frequently brings together top educators to glean their insights on current issues. With over 40% of teachers leaving the profession within the first five years,1 and many of them citing job stress as the cause,2 teacher burnout is one of education’s urgent concerns.
When Teasdale asked what percentage of teachers might be experiencing burnout, one participant’s comment filled the room with knowing laughter: “We all have it at some point in the year. We think, maybe this isn’t what we want to do. A job in retail sounds so much better.”
A retired teacher from Long Island agreed. “I think that almost everybody has those feelings at some time or another. But what I consider burnout—crashed, burned, done—maybe 5%–10%,” he said.
The educators acknowledged there is a marked difference between navigating an intense period of stress and that state of “crashed, burned, done.” One teacher said, “It’s a bottomless pit when you hit burnout. It’s hard to get out.”
Several of the participants shared this observation: Teacher burnout follows a familiar course.
“I think you can almost chart teacher burnout as a pattern throughout the school year: When state testing is due, when grades are due, when parent conferences are due,” said one longtime teacher. “It’s a given that it happens to everybody. It’s just how resilient you are in getting back up and getting moving and getting energized.”
The educators said teachers experiencing burnout may be:
The causes of burnout vary, but the participants said they may include:
The group consensus was that teacher burnout requires serious study to help promote the health of educators and the teaching profession. A 2017 study shows teachers experience what they consider “poor mental health” 11 or more days each month, a rate twice as high as workers in other professions.3
“We shouldn’t throw the word ‘burnout’ around,” one teacher said. “It’s like having a diagnosis of some sort. That’s how we should treat it. We should respect the word a little more and understand that when a teacher gets to the point of being burned out, there could have been so many steps we could have taken to support them.”
The focus group participants shared examples of the tools and teaching strategies they use to combat burnout:
Walden University uses feedback from top professionals like the NNSTOY focus group participants to help inform its online teaching degree programs. Because of this dedication to excellence and quality, Walden ranks No. 1 in MSEd graduates.4
Its Master of Science in Education (MSEd) degree program can refresh your skills and deepen your knowledge, helping you to become a more effective and resilient teacher. An online master’s in education can help fuel your efforts to lead students to new heights. Or, choose from one of 14 specializations to take your career in a new direction.
As a student in one of Walden’s graduate programs for teachers, you’ll:
An MS in Education can boost your confidence and build resilience, helping you to become the best that you can be. Let your example inspire others. Together, educators can chart a course to healthier careers and a robust future for the teaching profession.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering an MS in Education degree program online with multiple specializations. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.
4Source: Burning Glass Technologies. www.burning-glass.com. Retrieved April 2019, using CIP code 13.0101 (Education, General). Includes 2017 data.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.