10 Major Factors That Contribute To Teacher Burnout

The words “teacher” and “stress” always seem to go hand in hand. The further we get in the school year, the more frazzled teachers seem to get. Here are 10 major factors that contribute to the epidemic of teacher burnout.

1. State Testing

State testing_ teachers are stressed

On its surface, state testing is a logical idea. Come up with a test to measure every student in your state so you can see how everyone is doing. The unintended consequences, however, are insanely long. Tying test scores into teacher pay and school funding means we’re forced to do everything possible to make sure kids score well. In some cases that means ditching creative, meaningful projects because they may not be necessarily “testable subject matter”.

2. Salaries

Not paying teacher’s enough money is a tale as old as time, but it’s a story that’s become more like a nightmare in recent years. There are multiple studies that show teacher pay hasn’t risen anywhere near what inflation has, and when you compare us to other workers with similar degrees we’re making thousands of dollars less per year. That means extra stress when it comes time to pay those monthly bills, which leads us to…

3. Multiple Jobs

Regardless of what teachers get paid, our bills don’t magically go away. That’s why over 20% of us have more than one job. Imagine how stressful it is just being a teacher and making it through a typical school day, now imagine leaving school and working a few more hours somewhere else. With little to no downtime, a calm teacher in August can become a nervous wreck by December.

4. Homework

Piles of paperwork, teacher behind computer_ Teacher stress

No, I’m not talking about the homework we give our students, but the homework we give ourselves. All those tests and quizzes and projects need grading, and there just isn’t enough time during the school day to get it all done. Most teachers say they do an extra couple hours of work at home every night. Couple that with the extra jobs we work and it’s no surprise a teacher’s sleep schedule is about as regular as the stock market.

5. Bureaucracy

Teachers enjoy routine. Most teachers also believe that if a certain strategy has worked in their classroom for years, there’s no need to switch it up. Enter the messy and confusing world of politics where some “expert” writes a book one day, and the next day we’re all “strongly encouraged” to adopt this new method. We’re teachers, we know the importance of adapting, evolving, and keeping up with the latest research and most effective teaching methods. However, we’re the ones in the trenches every day, we know what’s best for our classrooms.

6. Meetings

Teacher meeting

In theory, teachers get a period every day for lesson planning, and to take a couple of deep breaths and re-center their chi. In actuality that time gets chewed up by PLCs, grade-level meetings, and about a hundred other things we try to get done so we can maybe have 5 minutes of quiet time when we go home.

7. Technology

Matrix computer numbers

Sure it’s nice to have computers in your classroom. Grading programs that do all of your weightings for you is a lot easier than doing it by hand. But technology is only great when it works, and we all know that sooner or later the internet goes down, or your projector bulb blows and suddenly your entire lesson plan gets thrown into utter chaos.

8. Class size

Most educational experts will tell you that a class with 10-15 students gives a teacher the opportunity to reach them all effectively. That sound you just heard is teachers around the country laughing at that last sentence. Classes are getting larger, and with more children needing accommodations than ever before, it can turn one simple lesson into a sprint around the room making sure everyone gets what they need before the bell goes off.

9. Budget Cuts

Empty old schoolYou would think that as enrollments increase, more money would be spent in schools to keep pace but we know that’s not always the case. After the recession a decade ago, most districts slashed their budget and never really corrected it. That leaves teachers constantly scrambling for supplies and other essential classroom goodies.

10. Blame

It seems that no matter what happens inside a school these days, teachers always end up like Rodney Dangerfield; we get no respect. Johnny didn’t fail his test, the teacher failed to prepare him. Students aren’t ill-behaved, teachers just don’t know how to control them. We’re certainly not perfect but having all that responsibility heaped on our shoulders wears us down to dust.

Teacher Burnout Pinterest

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David Rode

Dave is a middle school math teacher. He's also a musician, a community theater, dad to two amazing children, and he doesn't get a lot of sleep.

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