Teacher Burnout and How Administrators Can Help

Look at the news, and you’re bound to hear about “The Great Resignation.” This phenomenon is happening in education. How could it not? All the making of teacher burnout has been brewing over the last few years: overworked (check!), the stress in the workplace (check!), less respect (check!), low pay (check!), and the list goes on. The key to teacher burnout is recognizing the signs before it happens and creating a culture within your school that combats burnout.

Teacher Burnout

What is teacher burnout?

Teachers experience burnout when they have exhausted their resources to the point that they do not believe they can replenish themselves. Very often, the exhausted resource is the teacher. Teachers often feel pushed to their limits and simply do not feel that they have anything else to give. 

Teacher burnout has increased among teachers due to the pandemic. This is to be expected. Teachers have worked more hours than ever, converting their traditional classes to remote, changing plans at a moment’s notice, and teaching under great demands and uncertainty.

Teacher burnout and demoralization, undoubtedly, are on the rise. But these two terms are not the same. Teacher burnout is more aligned with exhaustion, and schools can cure exhaustion. Teacher burnout often is seen as temporary. Changing conditions or circumstances can remedy burnout.

What is demoralization?

Demoralization is different from teacher burnout. When educators experience demoralization, it affects their mindset. A demoralized person often feels that nothing can change their circumstances. Teachers often feel they can no longer do their job at the right level due to their job conditions. This mindset change can cause teachers to feel hopeless.

Effects of teacher burnout

The biggest effect of teacher burnout is that teachers leave the profession. The ripples of this can be felt all over their community. It starts with students. When a teacher with experience leaves the profession, a teacher with less experience replaces them. Students do not benefit as much from an inexperienced teacher. The effects are felt throughout the building as less experienced teachers collaborate and less wisdom and knowledge seep into other classrooms.

But what happens if there aren’t educators to fill these jobs? They sit vacantly. Then other teachers in the building have to pick up extra classes or sub during their planning period. This exacerbates teacher burnout, further causing more and more teachers feelings of overwork.

Signs and symptoms of teacher burnout

There are a few signs and symptoms of teacher burnout that you should watch out for in your building. These are all changes over time, so consider the person. 

    • Irritability or short-tempered: Teachers are often patient until they aren’t. Suppose you notice your colleague’s mood quickly change to anger and irritability. It’s usually time to step back and take a breath.
    • Not as socially engaged: Do you or another colleague suddenly feel reluctant to participate socially? Maybe you don’t want to eat lunch with another teacher, or you don’t want to go to happy hour. It could be that your burnout is pushing away from your work friends. 
    • Fatigue and exhaustion: This one is tough because teaching is exhausting. But if you or a colleague seem never to get rested, it could be burnout. 
    • Brain fog: Can you pay attention to the things that you care about each day? Do you forget a lot at work or home?
    • Appetite change: Appetite change is a physical symptom of unhappiness at work. You may experience other physical symptoms like headaches and stomach aches. 

All is not lost if you notice these qualities in yourself or your staff. We will outline ways to combat teacher burnout below.

How to prevent teacher burnout

The best way to prevent teacher burnout is to look for signs before getting out of control. Examine the symptoms above, and intercede when you notice early signs.

5 ways school leaders and administrators can help

If you notice that your staff is struggling with burnout, there are a few techniques that you can employ to alleviate these feelings.

Extracurricular Stress

Are there teachers in your building who seem to do it all? Try to look around and make sure extracurricular responsibilities are equally spread out among staff. Often teachers can’t seem to get caught up in the classroom because they are putting so much time into after-school activities.


Teachers need to have mentorship with colleagues to grow within their careers. Administrators can create mentorship programs that create an actionable dialogue between experienced and new teachers. Administrators have the power to structure programs that can happen during the school day, involve observing actual classes, and create goal-oriented training for mentor groups.


Do your teachers feel like they have autonomy over their day-to-day classes? Figure out ways that you can grant your staff more freedom. This might not come in the form of curriculum and assessment. But try to give autonomy in places like hall passes, lesson planning, and professional development.

Culture check

Burnout is contagious. Check your school culture. Is there a way for teachers to voice their concerns in an environment where they feel safe? If not, teachers will take to venting behind closed doors. This is the place burnout spreads like wildfire. Create measures where administrators hear teachers’ voices and address their concerns.

Provide tools that help lighten the load

Burnout has never been more prevalent than during the pandemic. Teachers did not have adequate resources to deal with the shift to remote learning. If you see a need in your school, get tools to help your teachers. TeacherMade can help.

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