The full debate in response to Lindsay Clandfield's interesting and relevant article on teacher burnout.

Are you suffering from a teacher burnout?

vie, 13 April 2007

I found quite interesting this article, mainly because this is the object of my postgraduate research. I am an English teacher, as well (in Brazil).Please, I´d like to read more articles about it and get in touch with peple who may help me. Virginia

Hi Virginia

17 April 2007

What a great topic for postgraduate work. For further reading you can start with the references at the bottom of my article.

Personally, I've found a lot of stuff on the web connected to Britain and the States along with some information from Canada, Germany and Switzerland.

Try the following article from stress news for a good overview:

Finally, I'd recommend any books by Christina Maslach. I read The Cost of Caring but I know she has newer titles out.


Greetings from a potential burnout!

Heliz, 19 April 2007


I found this article very interesting. It resonated with me a lot.

I have between 5 and 6 years' teaching experience, and I have definitely been through phases of burnout. I have been in my current job for more than 2 years, which is the longest time I have ever stayed in the same job. Although on balance I am happy, my workload is heavy, my hours are long, and I go through phases of strongly feeling the sentiments described.

I have certainly found some of the suggested solutions helpful. Although they are long, my hours are stable, so I am able to fit regular exercise in to my routine. And I DO get paid holiday :-)

I also strongly agree that finding ways to develop as a teacher can help regain positivity. In common with the writer of the article, I was a very enthusiastic first year teacher, and I am just starting a distance Diploma course, which has helped to re-ignite some of that enthusiasm.

Thank you for posting the article. It's good to know that my frustrations are normal and that it's possible to overcome them!

greetings from an actual burnout case!

pangel, 21 April 2007


Thank you Lindsay for this very substantial article.

Since I've been in this profession (and this has only been for 4 years now, in Austria) I've experienced always times of great (di)stress.

This year it became eventually so bad, that I considered seriously to quit the job altogether, the sooner the better, I found.
But luckily, I had a good friend's counselling and decided to call in sick for a longer time. I am in the lucky postion to have a great understanding boss who was very supportive throughout this phase.

So I took time off for 7 weeks and now I can say it was the best idea ever. I was so stuck in my stress and old beliefs about school and children (aged 10-18) that I just need that distance.
One of my former ! most painful beliefs is closely linked to Lindsays idea when she says that people who go into the helping profession often have high needs of approval.
One of my belief was that the kids must love and respect me! Now that I really fully emotionally realized that this is my job (to love and respect myself) and absolutely none of their business, a lot of the tension melts away.

Now I am back at school again and I am so happy that in the end I didn't quit because it really IS a wonderful job.

Thank you for the literature tips, I think it really is very helpful to read about this topic.

Finally, I want to share a method with you, that helped me to deprive my most powerful beliefs about school of its power (because I found out that it's mainly the thoughts who are painful)
The method is called "the work" and originates from a great American woman, Byron Katie, you can check it out on the net easily.
For me I can only say, the work works :-)

Burned out too

Vie, 23 April 2007

I really enjoyed the article too, especially as like some of the other respondents, I was beginning to feel that I was in the wrong career too. I started a DELTA course and the expectations I had of that combined with work made me aware that I was overloaded and I eventually hit breaking point. Being interested in alternative therapy, I sought help for my stress so that I could cope with both. I now think that we need to take at least a month's sabbatical from teaching, so that we can properly 'rest our heads' and I like the idea of doing something different, but I would go further and say teach something else besides English if possible, then come back to it as you would have had a chance to see yourself and your teaching from a completely different perspective and might realise that you are actually pretty good at what you do.

The importance of sharing these stories

25 April 2007

Thanks to those who have posted already. I've found that when I've discussed this with other teachers many do say they've felt the same way.

I think it's important to share these experiences - not only the frustrations but the strategies we've used to get over them. I'd personally like to see more of this in ELT (at conferences, in articles etc).

I notice a few people mention they felt this way just before, or while doing a higher course like the DELTA or Diploma. I think this is interesting, because it's when one embarks on a course like this that you "make the decision" as it were to keep with the profession and therefore there is (often, in my experience as a trainer) a lot of soul searching before doing it. I know I went through the soul searching just before doing my diploma - but I don't regret it at all now!

Thanks Pangel for the tip about the method "the work", I've taken a quick look but would have to look further to really understand it. At the moment it looks to me like a self-help site. Still, I'll reserve judgement and read more.

Sabbaticals and leaves

25 April 2007

I agree with Vie absolutely about having a holiday, a sabbatical. I know that the sabbatical is often restricted to university teachers to do research but I think it also helps them recharge for more teaching (having a father who is a university professor helped make this clear to me)

When I worked at a university in southern Mexico we had the right to five "mental health" days off in the year. This was in addition to sick pay, and we didn't have to give a reason at all! What an enlightened policy, eh?


So this is what I am going through!

25 April 2007

I read your article about teacher burnout and I think it is wonderful. It sounded like me in many places. I have been working as an English teacher for the past 7 years in Sri Lanka. I was feeling very down lately and did not know what to do.

Though I started my career with a lot of enthusiasm, it has faded to some extent now. But after reading your article I feel that there is some way to deal with it.

First thing is that I am going to find some kind of diversion from my routine.

Thanks for all the information.

More research

25 April 2007

I'm about to give a talk on teacher burnout in Slovakia, and so I've been looking for research done in this country on the subject. The internet is amazing, you can find almost anything!
Anyway, I found a study done of Czech teachers (not Slovak, but next door) that stated the following as the main sources of stress as reported by teachers:

1. educational work with low achievers
2. discipline problems
3. retaining of pupils’ attention
4. diagnoses of pupils
5. motivation of pupils
6. individual consultations with parents
7. running and management of parental meetings

One thing the authors of the study recommend is implementing a mentor programme in schools. I've been a part of an informal mentor programme in a private school once. Has anyone else had experience with mentoring?


hello from a burnout Neapolitan teacher

ciuppi, 1 May 2007

I used to be an enthusiast teacher! When reading your words I could feel the same as you, sharing my pains and difficuties. I still organise games, by prizes with my own money, plan new lessons but this is not enough!
From the moment I came back to teach in souhthern Italy I feel frustrated and i am no longer able to share things as I used to . I hope something could change! I have no recipe, I'm still thinking about that.
Thank for the advice!

Premature Burnout

badgerbird, 29 May 2007


I've only been working at a teacher, in Germany, for 1 year. I really love teaching, but I find the German people so uninspiring. 90% of them have absolutely no imagination and I feel that I can do nothing to ignite their fantasy. I have read the posts in this forum and your article and I just can't see the light at the end of tunnel. I have no time for sports, relaxing and as you mentioned, after I've wolfed down my dinner at 10pm, I'm tired and flop into bed for a bad nights sleep.

I can't reduce my hours because I just can't let people down.

Any further suggestions on how to help myself.

Burnout Blues

Mogwai, 4 June 2007

The way I avoid burnout is by varying my lessons as much as possible. There is nothing more depressing than delivering the 'same old' week in week out.
I also agree that German students can be very difficult to ignite. There is a cultural conformity that is hard to penetrate as an Ausländer.

a very quick and effective technique to lower stress before a lesson

5 June 2007

I'd like to draw your attention to EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), a simple but powerful de-stressing technique that can shift your energy level / lift your mood in a couple of minutes: I use it routinely before every lesson and find it makes a huge difference. Full info is available at, where there's a free downloadable 87-page manual. If that sounds overwhelming, you might want to visit my website, ( where I offer (for free), a simple two-page summary of how EFT works. You can teach yourself this remarkable technique in less than ten minutes; I highly recommend suspending disbelief & skepticism and trying it!


dixon, 10 June 2007

Too be honest i think we teachers are highly exploited in this profession. We need a degree to teach, we develop expertise and we are highly commited to our work. The majority of teachers I know are not even on full-time contracts. Our pay is appalling. Why do we put up with this?

exploitation reply

badgerbird, 13 June 2007

Hi Dixon,
You're right we are exploited, but we put up with it because we are life's givers. People like us don't become teachers for money, we do it because we get the 'care' buzz. Personally, if I feel like I've made a difference in someones life, I feel more fulfilled as a person. We're care junkies!! :-)

As for burn out - I've cut my hours and already I'm feeling better. I've started exercising again and I can feel my motivation returning...

Lack of support

Glenda, 18 June 2007

Hi, I'm definitely suffering from burnout. I've been teaching English to French adults for six years now - I was unqualified when I started (I was English, a professional actress in England, so 'of course' I could teach, according to the people who interviewed me!) and took a distance learning TEFL diploma to help me. I use the macmillan sites constantly for ideas, plans and inspiration. My problem, really, is isolation. Great though all your tips are, many of them presuppose that you have colleagues and/or a school who can support you. I have neither, so must rely on my own training and instincts to provide classes. I teach for an association - not a school, just a committee - providing evening study for adults, and my students already pay a great deal for the classes (increasing my sense of guilt and responsibility towards them) and I cannot ask them to buy coursework or books, so I provide everything myself. Classes often take me several hours to prepare. I am definitely both idealist and perfectionist, and I am making myself ill. I have to decide now whether I want to teach again from next September (I don't get holiday pay), and I am seriously thinking about quitting. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Glenda, France

Lack of support

badgerbird, 11 July 2007

Hi Glenda,
My advice would be to quit. It they don't appreciate you and you have no support you need to move on to pastures new. You now have the qualification combined with experience and could teach anywhere in the world. If it's making you ill, it's not worth it. Sorry if that's a bit harsh, but it seems like it's your only choice.
Good luck