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
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.
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!
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.
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 www.emofree.com, where there's a free downloadable 87-page manual. If that sounds overwhelming, you might want to visit my website, (www.jenniferdavidson.com) 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?
badgerbird, 13 June 2007
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.
Lack of support
badgerbird, 11 July 2007
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.
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