One of the most critical aspects of teaching is self-care. Because profession's demands, many teachers do not feel they have the time or energy to develop emotional resilience or self-compassion practices. That, in turn, increases the chances of job burnout.
Reversing that trend requires recognition by school administrators and the teachers themselves that educator support practices are a priority, not a “nice to have.” Teachers who commit to supporting themselves can in turn support their students better. Fresno Pacific University offers this opportunity through online professional development courses, including Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators, Self-Compassion for Teachers, and Teacher Burnout: Prevention and Recovery.
Even with these skills, teachers cannot do it all alone. School leaders and district administrators also help the cause by offering education support services for teachers.
The Growing Problem of Teacher Burnout
Recent events, including the challenges of teaching during a global pandemic, have shown the need for a renewed focus on the well-being of educators. A recent survey from the National Education Association (NEA) found that 55 percent of teachers are ready to leave the profession earlier than planned. One of the causes is burnout from pandemic-related staffing shortages, according to the NEA.
In a press release about the survey, NEA President Becky Pringle said that “after persevering through the hardest school years in memory, America’s educators are exhausted and increasingly burned out.”
Teaching shortages predated the pandemic, especially in subjects like math, science, special education and bilingual education. But they have expanded in recent years to touch all areas of teaching and staff positions like bus drivers, school nurses and food service workers.
In the NEA survey, 74% of teachers said they must fill in for colleagues or take on other duties because of staffing shortages, while 80% said that unfilled job openings have led to more work. Also, 90% said burnout is a serious problem.
The Signs of Teacher Burnout
For teachers, it's essential to frequently assess how they feel on the job and watch for signs of burnout. People throw around the term “burnout” frequently, but it means more than just having a bad day or two. Burnout is a serious issue that can impact a teacher’s ability to provide a good learning environment for students.
According to the Mayo Clinic, signs of job burnout include the following.
- Chronic fatigue and sleep issues
- Forgetfulness and trouble concentrating
- Appetite and weight issues
- Depression and anxiety
- Becoming overly cynical or critical at work
- Physical issues such as frequent headaches, stomach and bowel issues
- Difficulty starting work each morning
- More frequently becoming irritable and impatient on the job
Fortunately, research has discovered methods to avoid burnout. They include setting clear boundaries and creating a better work-life balance (including not working weekends) and regularly taking time off. Peer support and community is also critical. Seeking out other teachers to discuss these issues builds resilience and camaraderie.
How Schools Can Provide Educator Support
In the survey, teachers identify areas where school officials can help provide better educator support. They include higher pay, providing mental health services for students, hiring more teachers and support staff and reducing the paperwork required for teaching jobs.
School officials also can focus on improving day-to-day work experiences, supporting teachers by providing them the tools they need for success, promoting them internally and providing teachers more job flexibility.
Fresno Pacific Professional Development Courses
The level of educator support varies by school district and even between individual schools. That’s why learning to build emotional resilience and practicing self-care is crucial for teachers.
The Fresno Pacific University Self-Compassion for Teachers course features a research-based curriculum that offers K-12 teachers self-compassion practices they can apply within their teaching role. Teachers also learn how to extend these practices to colleagues and students.
The Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators course allows teachers the opportunity to learn practices that help them better understand and manage job-related stress. The course includes a practical list of strategies to mitigate stress, such as identifying and naming emotions as they arise and pausing to understand “the story” people tell themselves in different situations based on the emotions they are experiencing.
Teacher burnout will remain a threat in education jobs, but educator support and self-care can help teachers manage work-related stress. Professional development courses focusing on these issues increase teachers' chances of success in this important and often overlooked area.