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25 Causes of Teacher Burnout + Coping Strategies for 2023

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Are you trying to understand the causes of teacher burnout so you can deal with it more effectively?

You’ve come to the right place! The causes of teacher burnout are a growing concern in the education sector that negatively affects teachers’ mental health and well-being.

Here at the Tutor Resource, we have been helping both online tutors as well as brick and mortar teachers find the resources they need to be more productive in their classrooms.

We have compiled a comprehensive list of the causes of teacher burnout as well as some unique ways to cope with it. Read on to find out more!

What is Teacher Burnout?

Teacher burnout is an increasingly common issue among educators that can have a detrimental effect on both their mental health and the quality of education they can provide.

It is characterized by feelings of exhaustion, frustration, and disillusionment with one’s job as a teacher.

Burnout can lead to decreased motivation, increased absenteeism, lower job satisfaction, and poorer student performance.

It is important to recognize and address the causes of teacher burnout. Teacher burnout is a problem that can make teachers feel exhausted, frustrated, and unhappy with their job.

Causes of Teacher Burnout

If we don’t deal with teacher burnout, it can make it harder for teachers to do their jobs well and help students learn.

So it’s important to find ways to cope with this issue so that teachers can stay healthy and keep providing a great education for students.

1. Poor funding for schools and education programs

Poor funding for schools and education programs can make it hard for teachers to do their jobs. With less money, teachers might not have enough resources to help students learn.

This can cause them to feel frustrated, exhausted, and unhappy with their job. One specific example of this is the lack of resources available for classroom activities.

With insufficient funding, teachers may not have enough books and other materials to provide engaging learning experiences for their students.

2. High emotional demands from students and stakeholders

High emotional demands from students and stakeholders can cause teachers to become burned out. When students or other people have high expectations of a teacher, it can be very difficult for the teacher to meet those expectations.

For example, if a student is struggling with their work but expects perfect grades from the teacher, this could lead to burnout for the teacher.

This can lead to frustration, exhaustion, and unhappiness in their job. In addition, when teachers are expected to fulfill roles outside of their job description, such as being a substitute parent or counselor, this can lead to further teacher burnout.

3. Inadequate preparation for dealing with challenging students or situations

When teachers are not given enough resources to help them deal with challenging students or situations, it can be difficult for them to manage. This can make them feel frustrated and overwhelmed, and lead to burnout.

For example, if a teacher does not have access to the right tools or information they need to help a special needs student who is struggling with their work, they might feel like they can’t do their job properly and become exhausted.

This chronic frustration can lead to burnout if the challenging situation can’t be properly remediated.

4. Excessive workload and long working hours

Unreasonable workloads are also common causes of burnout among educators. Teachers often have a huge amount of material that needs to be covered and may feel overwhelmed by all of the tasks they need to do.

Having to work long hours with no break can also lead to burnout, as it takes away valuable time for self-care. When teachers don’t have enough time to rest and recharge, they are more likely to become frustrated and exhausted.

5. Lack of control over job decisions or tasks

When teachers feel like their opinions don’t matter or that they are not given the autonomy they need to do their jobs well, this can be a source of frustration that leads to burnout.

Being micromanaged by supervisors or having tasks imposed on them without proper explanation can cause resentment and unhappiness on the job, thus also leading to teacher burnout.

6. Constantly changing curriculum and teaching methods

When teachers have to keep changing the way they teach and the materials they use, it can be very hard. This can make them feel tired and frustrated with their job. It is like having to start all over again each time something new comes up.

In addition, not having enough time to learn the new materials or practice teaching differently can lead to burnout. This can be especially frustrating when these changes come mid-year when teachers feel like they have already gotten into a rhythm with their teaching style.

7. Overwhelming student discipline problems

Having too many student discipline problems can cause teachers to get very tired and frustrated. It is hard for teachers when students do not follow the rules, like talking during class or not doing their homework.

For example, if a teacher has to constantly remind one student about the rules and that same student keeps breaking them, this can be hard on the teacher. Over time, this can lead to burnout because it takes away from their energy and motivation for teaching.

8. Insufficient pay and benefits

When teachers do not get paid enough or receive enough benefits, it can make them very tired and frustrated. This is because they have to work a lot, but their salary and other benefits are not enough to cover all of their expenses or reward them for the hard work they do.

This is a common problem, especially throughout the United States. When teachers feel underpaid, this can lead to burnout because it takes away from their energy and motivation for teaching.

9. Poor job prospects and lack of career advancement

Poor job prospects and lack of career advancement can make teachers feel unhappy with their jobs.

If a teacher does not have enough chances to get a better job or move up in their career, they may start to feel frustrated and exhausted. This can lead to burnout because it takes away from their energy and motivation for teaching.

For example, if a teacher does not get the chance to take part in professional development activities or other opportunities that could help them move forward, this can make them feel unfulfilled and unsatisfied with their job.

10. Working alone or feeling isolated

When a teacher does not have enough support from colleagues or administrators, it can make them feel like they are doing the job all by themselves. This can cause them to become overwhelmed and exhausted, leading to frustration and unhappiness in their job.

After all, teaching is a team sport! Between paraprofessionals, teaching aides, and other staff working together in a classroom, teachers can share the burden of their workload and feel more supported. Without this support, it can be a lonely job that leads to burnout.

11. Providing emotional or social support to students

Providing emotional or social support to students is an important part of a teacher’s job, but it can also be draining and lead to burnout. The responsibility of providing such support often falls on teachers, even if it is outside their scope of responsibility.

This can lead to frustration and exhaustion as they struggle to meet the needs of their students while dealing with their workload.

Teachers who feel this is happening should talk to colleagues, friends, or family about how they are feeling so that they can get the necessary emotional support.

Teachers should also try to set realistic expectations and be mindful of their own needs and limits when providing support for their students.

12. Feeling undervalued or unappreciated in their role

When teachers feel like their work is not valued or appreciated, it can be discouraging and lead to burnout. This can happen when a teacher does not get enough recognition for their hard work or when the teaching profession itself is not seen as valuable by society.

When this occurs, teachers need to take time for themselves to fully appreciate all that they do and find ways of feeling recognized and appreciated in their role.

It is also helpful for teachers to connect with other educators who understand the importance of the teaching profession and who are willing to support each other. This can help create a sense of community that can counter feelings of being unappreciated.

13. Complex administrative tasks and responsibilities

Teachers often have to manage a lot of administrative tasks and responsibilities, which can be overwhelming. This includes things like managing student records, creating lesson plans, grading and providing feedback on assignments, attending meetings, and more.

When these tasks pile up and become too much for teachers to handle, it can lead to burnout as they struggle to keep up with the additional workload. Teachers need to find ways of streamlining their processes and delegate tasks to reduce their overall workload.

14. Heavy grading and evaluation workloads

Grading and evaluating student work can be challenging and time-consuming, especially when teachers are dealing with a large class. This can lead to burnout from having to read, assess, and provide feedback on every single assignment or test.

To reduce the workload associated with grading and evaluation tasks, it is helpful for teachers to find ways of streamlining the process.

For example, using online tools like rubrics can help speed up the process of assessing student work. It is also important for teachers to take breaks in between grading sessions to keep their energy levels up.

15. Dealing with difficult or absent parents or guardians

Leading a classroom without enough support from parents can be difficult for teachers as they have fewer resources available to them.

When parents are absent or uninvolved with their child’s education, it can lead to burnout as teachers spend more time and energy trying to fill the gap.

Teachers need to find ways of connecting with parents, such as holding parent-teacher conferences or sending out regular updates about a student’s progress.

This can help build relationships between teachers and parents that will make it easier for teachers to effectively do their job.

16. Constant pressure to meet testing and assessment standards

Teachers often feel a lot of pressure to meet testing and assessment standards, such as those set by the state or the school district. This can lead to burnout as teachers try to juggle their everyday tasks with preparing for standardized tests.

To manage this stress, teachers need to prioritize self-care and find ways of breaking up the work into smaller chunks so that it does not become too overwhelming.

It is also helpful for teachers to talk with colleagues or mentors about how they are feeling to get feedback and help. This will ensure that teachers don’t feel like they have to take on everything all at once.

17. Inability to take adequate breaks or time off due to workload

When teachers are overwhelmed with their workload, it can be hard for them to take the necessary breaks or days off that they need.

Yes, teachers often get school breaks off, but this doesn’t account for personal time that may be needed during the school year.

This can lead to burnout as they struggle to juggle all of their responsibilities while trying to remain healthy and energized.

To prevent this from happening, teachers need to find ways of reducing their overall workload by delegating tasks or streamlining processes.

18. Feeling like a scapegoat when things go wrong

When things go wrong in the classroom, it can often feel like teachers are to blame. This can lead to burnout as they feel like they are constantly being blamed or criticized for things that were out of their control.

Teachers need to remember that mistakes will happen and that it’s okay to accept responsibility when something goes wrong. However, it is also important for them to recognize when things aren’t their fault and not let outside criticism and blame affect their mental health.

By staying true to themselves and setting boundaries with colleagues and administrators, teachers can create a healthy environment where they feel supported instead of scapegoated.

19. Working in unsafe or unhealthy environments

Some teachers have to work in unsafe or unhealthy environments, such as those with hazardous materials or physical hazards.

When this is the case, teachers need to take extra precautions to ensure their safety and health by following all safety protocols and procedures.

Additionally, they should speak up if they feel like something isn’t safe in their classroom or school environment and seek help from the appropriate channels, including the superintendent or other higher administrative professionals.

Unhealthy environments include toxic interpersonal situations, too, though. Teachers should set boundaries with colleagues and administrators and be careful to avoid burnout in these types of situations.

20. Lack of recognition for their hard work and dedication

Teachers often feel like they are not appreciated or recognized for the hard work and dedication that they put into their job. This can lead to burnout as teachers struggle to stay motivated in a field where it can feel like their efforts go unnoticed.

To combat this feeling of unappreciation, teachers need to take time to celebrate their accomplishments and recognize the progress that they have made.

It is also helpful for them to connect with other teachers who understand the teaching profession and create a sense of community.

Plus, teachers should make sure that they are receiving the necessary support from their school or district in terms of resources, training, and recognition for their hard work. This will ensure that teachers feel valued and supported in their efforts.

21. Coping with trauma experienced by students or colleagues

Teachers can experience burnout when they are faced with the trauma of their students or colleagues. For example, school shootings and student suicides can have devastating effects on teachers as they grapple with the emotional and psychological consequences of such events.

Teachers often feel helpless in these situations as they try to make sense of what has happened and how best to support those affected by it. They often don’t have the professional training necessary to help themselves or others to deal with such massive traumas.

This type of trauma can lead to burnout as teachers struggle to cope with the emotional weight of such events while trying to continue teaching effectively.

22. Feeling disrespected by students or their families

While absentee parents can be difficult for teachers, so too are scenarios in which parents and/or students are blatantly disrespectful to the teacher and their efforts to teach the student.

This can lead to burnout as teachers are faced with constant disrespect and hostility that can make it difficult to do their job effectively.

To cope with this, teachers need to set firm boundaries and stick to them. This includes not responding to phone calls or emails from parents or other adult caregivers for students who are blatantly rude to the teacher.

23. High expectations from administrators

High expectations from administrators can also make it difficult for teachers to do their jobs well.

Administrators may have unrealistic expectations of what teachers should accomplish or how they should conduct themselves in the classroom, leading to increased stress.

Plus, administrators may be too quick to criticize teachers if they don’t meet these high standards. This type of pressure can cause teachers to become discouraged or disillusioned with their job.

Teachers need to communicate with their supervisors and ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding expectations. And, teachers should speak up if they feel like their job demands are too much and advocate for themselves when necessary.

24. Feeling of powerlessness over educational policies or decisions

Teachers often feel powerless when it comes to influencing educational policy or making decisions about how students will be taught. This can lead to burnout as they struggle to stay motivated in a system where their voices are not heard or valued.

Teachers need to be actively involved in advocating for themselves and their students. This can include attending school board meetings, joining professional organizations, and participating in advocacy programs.

By taking an active role in the educational process, teachers can help to shape policies and decisions that will make a positive difference for their students and their careers.

25. Fear of losing their job or being laid off

Teachers are also often concerned with the possibility of losing their job or being laid off. This feeling of uncertainty can cause them to feel anxious and overwhelmed, leading to burnout.

To combat this, teachers should stay up-to-date on the school district’s policies regarding layoffs and job security so that they know what to expect. Plus, they should take steps to ensure that their work is exemplary to make themselves as indispensable as possible.

Finally, teachers should look for ways to supplement their income if necessary; having a second source of income can help teachers feel more secure about their financial situation which could reduce stress levels overall.

Strategies for Dealing with Teacher Burnout

By implementing some of these strategies, teachers can help reduce burnout and better manage their stress levels to ensure they can provide quality education for their students.

While not an exhaustive list, here are some strategies for dealing with the causes of teacher burnout that can help mitigate it.

  • Create a manageable daily schedule with definite breaks throughout the day.
  • Set boundaries between work life and home life.
  • Take time off when needed.
  • Explore stress reduction techniques.
  • Set reasonable, professional boundaries.
  • Manage workloads by breaking large tasks down into smaller ones.
  • Seek out opportunities for professional development and growth.
  • Build positive relationships with colleagues and mentors.
  • Advocate for improved working conditions and policies.
  • Engage students in meaningful and authentic learning experiences.
  • Foster a positive school culture and community.
  • Prioritize student mental health and well-being.
  • Speak up when needed and recognize the value of your work.
  • Create unique opportunities to engage with parents and adult guardians.
  • Recognize the impact of trauma and take steps to reduce its effects.
  • Make sure expectations are clear and achievable.
  • Become involved in educational policy-making processes.
  • Supplement your income when necessary.
  • Stay up-to-date on the school district’s policies regarding layoffs and job security.
  • Practice self-care, whether it be yoga or meditation, or some other positive practice that encourages personal relaxation.

Conclusion: Causes of Teacher Burnout

With a few simple steps, teachers can take control of their environment and create an atmosphere that supports their professional growth and well-being.

And, they can build positive relationships with colleagues, administrators, parents, and students that lead to more fulfilling teaching experiences overall.

By taking proactive steps to address burnout, teachers can ensure that they remain motivated, fulfilled, and energized in their work.

Some of the strategies we’ve listed are easier than others to address on your own. We get that. Don’t be afraid to partner with staff, colleagues, supervisors, or other community members to address the causes of teacher burnout outside your school or classroom!

In addition, administrators, and policymakers should prioritize teacher well-being by investing resources into creating a positive school culture that focuses on reducing or eliminating causes of teacher burnout.

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