What Causes Teacher Burnout?
Burnout can cause a teacher’s optimism and positive demeanor to change slowly over time. For example, maybe it starts with depressed self-esteem due to students’ low standardized test scores. Then, as the weeks, semesters, or years go on, other issues, like student behavior, lack of support, or reduced school funding, can pile on and cause more undue teacher stress.
The most common causes of teacher burnout today include:
- Poor school funding
- Complications related to COVID-19
- Unattainable goals for standardized testing
- Classroom behavior issues
- Dealing with difficult parents
- Not enough planning time
- Feeling underappreciated
- Lack of autonomy
Poor school funding
In a 2022 study, a whopping 71% of teachers reported that they spend their own money on classroom materials due to a smaller budget. Inadequate school funding requires teachers to dip into their own wallets, causing job and financial stress in an already underpaid profession.
In addition to all the normal everyday stressors, the full impact of COVID-19 on teachers has yet to be seen. That said, an astounding 69% of teachers in 2022 reported needing to spend additional time getting students back on track from learning loss that resulted from quarantine. The resulting stress related to this setback is undeniable.
Unattainable goals for standardized testing
The pressure of standardized testing has long caused an environment focused more on test scores than creative learning. As a result, standardized tests often cause significant stress for teachers, leading to burnout across the teaching profession.
Classroom behavior issues
In 2022, 58% of teachers reported increased classroom interruptions during instruction. Teachers already have limited time with students and it can wear on instructors when that time is taken up by dealing with students who exhibit classroom behavior issues.
Dealing with difficult parents
With access to a teacher’s email, phone, and even classroom management apps, parents today have more opportunities than ever before to contact their child’s teacher. Unfortunately, difficult parents can drain experienced teachers’ energy and affect their self-esteem, potentially leading to burnout. Some of these parents may cross parent-teacher boundaries and have unfair expectations of their children’s teachers.
Not enough planning time
More than half of teachers in 2022 said their time for planning was significantly impacted due to staff shortages and a host of other reasons. If teachers don’t have planning time at school, they have to make up for it at home, encroaching on their work-life balance, which can contribute to burnout.
Unfortunately, teacher salaries do not equal the stress they face on the job. It’s not uncommon for teachers to need to work extra jobs on the weekends or summers just to make ends meet. Because of this, teachers often feel underappreciated and undervalued, eventually leading to burnout.
Lack of autonomy
Lack of autonomy in the curriculum is a significant cause of stress and burnout in the teaching profession. Surprisingly, almost half of teachers surveyed in 2022 had to change part or all of their curriculum.