Teacher Burnout Explained in Two Pie Graphs
This is a non-scientific (but probably pretty accurate) graphic I have created using my experience as a teacher. Another title for this chart could be “Teacher Burnout Explained in Two Pie Graphs.” I’m sure you can relate or even add some of your own crazy pie sections.
Healthy Thought Patterns for Teachers
So in the midst of such a challenging work environment, how does anybody retain their sanity and their passion for teaching?!?!?
Looking back over my years in the classroom, I noticed a few areas of growth in my way of thinking that helped me survive. I would describe myself as sensitive and as a people pleaser so maybe some of these thinking patterns are unique to that personality type. I felt like I constantly worked so hard only to be beaten down by the unreasonable expectations of others. I think I’ve developed a little bit tougher skin but I’ve also noticed and learned from coworkers who process the demands of teaching in a manageable way.
Growing as a teacher isn’t just about getting a handle on classroom management and instruction techniques. It’s also about winning the mental battle against all those discouraging things that have very little to do with actually teaching. The left side of this chart shows the mindset a new teacher might have after being preached to in endless trainings and meetings. After many late nights, cry sessions in bathroom stalls, and maybe chats with a good mentor, a teacher will start to get his/her feet under him/herself and develop some of the healthier and more reasonable thinking patterns on the right side of the chart.
My hope is that this graphic can help you toward a mindset where you can keep your passion for teaching and let some of the rest go, or maybe affirm some of the thoughts you’ve been tossing around for a while.
A few more thoughts on testing:
I’ve worked at a variety of schools and test scores have been a big deal at all of them. I’ve been in several meetings where I felt like I was being bashed over the head with them. I definitely believe there is always room for improvement and standardized testing is one way to gauge how you are doing. BUT… a standardized test will never show how you helped a kid build up their confidence in math, how you got special services for a student who had fallen through the cracks, how your lowest reading group is still below level but made more than a year’s worth of growth, how you sparked a love for writing in your class, and how you helped everyone achieve success at their level.
All of these things are incredible, important, the kind of stuff you go into teaching for….but they’re not measured by “the test.” It can be crushing to have your worth as a teacher judged just by test scores. Hopefully you’ll get some thank yous from students and parents, but many times it’s up to you to hold fiercely to your priorities and passions. Find some like-minded company to share successes with.
And in closing:
Major kudos to you in the trenches, from somebody who gets it : )