Burnout: Emotional and physical exhaustion resulting from a combination of exposure to environmental and internal stressors and inadequate coping and adaptive skills. In addition to signs of exhaustion, the person with burnout exhibits an increasingly negative attitude towards his or her job, low self-esteem, and personal devaluation. [Medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com]
Burnout in education seems to be a common occurrence.
As you can imagine, between session one and session two with the doctor, I had a lot of stress. He gave me my results just before I left and asked me to work through them while I was away. I wasn’t home for the next fourteen days, nearly 200 km away, marking matric (Grade 12) papers. The doctor had prescribed medication based on my blood tests and the results of my analysis. I would only see him again after the New year had started.
My results showed that I had already reached a level of stress that affected my physical health. I hadn’t realised that the constant sinusitis and asthma attacks I had was my bodies’ way of dealing with stress. The main causes of my stress was emotional overloading, family life and role conflict where I often had contradictions in the expectations different groups had of me. Secondary factors included my environment where I worked and management. On the burnout scale I had reached the point of complete collapse. If I didn’t deal with it, I would have to be institutionalised!
While many issues play a role in teacher burnout, common ‘stressors’ include dwindling school resources, low pay, high expectations for test scores, changing assessments of student performance, lack of parental involvement, and pressure from administration for non-teaching tasks such as rubrics, and curriculum assessments. [http://neatoday.org]
Are you an educator? Do you have more than five of the symptoms in the list? Then you are on the verge of burning out. The first step you need to take is to identify the problem. You need to understand at this point that you are not alone. There are thousands of teachers all around the world facing the same situation for similar reasons.
In my next personal development blog I will discuss some of the physical and behavioural effects stress and burnout can have on the body. Have you ever felt like this?