Speaking to the Issue of Teacher Burnout as a Guest on the “Always a Lesson” Podcast

A few months ago, I went in search of people who are offering podcasts related to education, and I found that there are many. In fact, many of them are connected through the Education Podcast Network. I reached out to a number of these individuals and connected with them through LinkedIn so I could follow their work.

In the process, I connected with one young teacher who is passionate about empowering teachers. She offers both a blog and a podcast and is a member of the Education Podcast Network.

Gretchen Schultek Bridgers who offers the podcast, “Always a Lesson” asked if I would be willing to be a guest on her podcast. I was thrilled to do that, and the resulting interview was released just this morning.

If you feel that you may be experiencing the signs or symptoms of burnout, don’t despair. There is hope. Perhaps you will hear something in this podcast that will spark an idea or generate an action plan. I sincerely hope so.

And if you have any questions about what you might be able to do if you decided that teaching isn’t what you want to do anymore, we should talk. Make an appointment for a no-obligation strategy session by using the form to the right of this message. It won’t cost you anything but a little bit of your time, and it may help you decide on next steps in your career.

Enjoy the podcast by clicking here.

Until next time.

Maybe You’re Asking the Wrong Questions

Young woman asking for help.

Since I help teachers who are experiencing burnout find alternative careers, I am often asked the question, “What else can I do besides teach?”

And my answer is, “That depends. What would you like to do?”

It isn’t a trick question, yet it seems to stump more people than it doesn’t.

The frequency with which that exchange takes place makes me wonder. Have we been so conditioned to believe we have to take what we think we can get that we don’t dare go for what we want?

It is ironic, isn’t it? Teachers are often the very people who inspire and motivate their students to reach their full potential. Most people can recall that one special teacher (at least one) who saw something in them and made them feel like they could stretch themselves toward a goal that felt unattainable. Teachers routinely encourage their students to stretch outside their comfort zones. They see things in us that we don’t see or feel in ourselves. Right?

Many of the teachers I speak with on a daily basis, however, believe that their own options are limited.

And that makes me sad.

The typical conversation starts with, “What are the options for teachers? What else can I do with my education credentials and experience?”

My answer is always, “You can do whatever you want…but you have to believe that you can, and you have to be willing to take some chances.”

And there, I am afraid, comes the rub.

Teachers are not prone to be big risk takers.

That is not a criticism, but it is an observation, and it is based at least in part on my own experience.

Teachers like to play it safe. For the most part, we are rule followers as well as rule makers. We believe in rules, and we believe in practicalities. Having something “stable” may outweigh having something that feels less predictable.

Many teachers tell me, “I have to have a job with benefits.”

I get that. Getting a job with benefits was the main reason I took my first job. My mother was determined that I take whatever I could get because her insurance company would be kicking me off her plan within a few months of graduation. As a nurse, she was keenly aware of my need to “be covered.”

And I am not unsympathetic, I promise. Upon retirement, I started paying almost $600 a month for my own insurance because I wasn’t willing to take a risk that I would stay healthy.

So, having a job with good benefits is a good thing.

But I have to wonder if it is worth it if it keeps you stuck in a job your no longer enjoy?

Every individual has to make that choice for themselves. I am in no position to advise you to quit your job and not have a plan.

But I am suggesting that it isn’t helping you if you aren’t willing to look at all of your options.

These days, it is possible to have insurance without being tied to a job you don’t feel invested in anymore.

And it is worth taking a risk, perhaps, if it is one that would pay off in the long run.

The main thing I am suggesting is that you be open to possibilities.

Unless you are approaching retirement, if you are in the category of “burnt-out teacher,” it may be time for you to check your alternatives. But start with the right questions. What were you born to do? What is your true passion? What is your mission in this life? If you have a magic wand, and you could do, be, have, or accomplish anything in the world without fear of failure, what would you be doing instead of what you are doing now?

If your answer is, “Nothing. I was born to teach, and I plan to teach for the rest of my life” then that is great news! We need good teachers. We need dedicated and committed teachers, and I wouldn’t dream of encouraging you to leave.

BUT, if you are not enjoying teaching, and you think there must be “something else out there” that you could do instead, we should probably talk.

It’s your life. It’s your decision. And there is no time like now to start if you want to make a change.

Until next time.

                               It’s Your Time

 

Yes, Teachers Do Need Freedom, But Few Feel They Have It

I just read an excellent article by Ashley Lamb-Sinclair in The Atlantic. It is entitled, “Why Teachers Need Their Freedom,” and she describes how she and her co-teacher used some of the techniques offered in a book called Teaching Content Outrageously by Stanley Pogrow. I applaud Ashley for being willing to take a risk. I am sure her students enjoyed the lesson that she described in the article, and I do not doubt that engaging them differently make an impact.

I agree wholeheartedly with the premise that teachers need their freedom when it comes to deciding how to teach effectively. They have been trained, after all, to do just that. The dilemma, of course, is that few teachers feel they have any freedom or autonomy at all.

For them to feel “free,” they would have to break the chains of restraint that most districts are imposing upon them.

 

I talk to teachers every day who feel the restrictions upon them in such a way that they feel chained–strangled, even–by the uncompromising demands made by their administrators.

I have to wonder if Ashley and her co-teacher would have used the lesson described in her article if it had been a day that they were being observed by the principal for evaluation. Perhaps they would have. It would have been instructive for the administrator to see, but somehow I doubt that they would have felt the “freedom” to be that innovative on observation day. I hope I am wrong about that. But even though they might have been bold enough to offer that lesson for administrative observation, I know many teachers who wouldn’t feel that kind of confidence.

In fact, the teachers who call me are talking increasingly about their profound sense of burnout with their jobs. They talk about feeling overly restricted by the demands of the administration to comply with rules that don’t make a lot of sense to them.

Just this week, a teacher who cares deeply about her students said to me, “I feel that I am out of integrity with myself because I am doing things that I don’t even believe are in the best interests of my students.”

She was referring to the endless round of tests that she is required to administer. Learning is taking a back seat to testing. It doesn’t seem to matter to the people in charge of schools these days if any authentic learning is taking place. Everything hinges on how well the students do on their various tests.

 

Student filling out answers to a test with a pencil.

People, in general, like to feel that they have some control in their lives including how they conduct themselves on the job. When you feel that every move is prescripted and every decision is made by someone else, it tears at the individual in a fundamental way. I believe that this is a cause of the rise in teacher burnout that I am witnessing just anecdotally.

The teachers who call me say without exception, “I still love my kids. I love teaching, but it’s all the other stuff I don’t want to do anymore.”

I know how they feel. Part of the reason I left education and started this business is that I could not bring myself to participate in the teaching of arbitrary standards and administering tests that have little real meaning. I long for the days when I was treated like a professional. And most of the people I talk to feel the same way.

I wholeheartedly agreed that teachers DO need their freedom. I wish they had it. I wish they felt like they could declare it for themselves. Few feel that they have that freedom, however. And the result is teacher burnout on the rise.

BURNOUT

 

If you happen to be one of those teachers who feels that your job is causing you undue stress, the first order of business that you should address if your stress level. I invite you to download a free PDF on stress management that offers some simple but effective strategies for managing your stress and becoming more resilient. To get the free report, click here.

 

And if you think you might be suffering from symptoms of teacher burnout, you may also download another free PDF that offers 7 questions that will help you determine if you are burned out and your level of burnout. Get that PDF by clicking here.

 

If you have questions, please feel free to contact me.

Until next time.

A Major Challenge Teachers Face as School is Starting

Sometimes, the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.

I have to say I do not envy teachers who are headed back to school this fall, and for those who are already at it, I hope you are doing okay. What is happening in the country at the moment is hard enough for adults to understand. I cannot imagine trying to explain it to children. Yet, at some point, depending on the age and maturity of the children you teach, you will need to try to explain it.

Most classrooms operate like mini-democracies.

Students are taught basic fundamentals of respect for adults in the room and their classmates. They are told that it isn’t okay to hit, bite, or punch their classmates, although I am told that hitting, biting, and punching is on the rise in some areas. (I was told this by an HR person for a large school district, so I trust it to be an accurate depiction of what is happening in some places.)

Bullying is not allowed in our classrooms. In spite of that basic premise, we are all well aware that bullying has become a national epidemic.

As teachers, we emphasize the importance of fundamental fairness and respect for authority and for one another in our classrooms.

We also teach that facts matter. And (I hope) we teach that history, when ignored, has a bad habit of repeating itself.

We don’t just teach the fundamental curriculum. We teach students the importance of caring and sharing and having empathy for one another.

How in the world does a teacher teach these fundamental concepts to impressionable children when the leaders of the free world–and I am not just talking about the President of the United States but any leader in Congress or any state official who is guilty of arguing on national TV that somehow, two wrongs make a right? Because at the moment, that is exactly what I hear many of them are doing.

I am writing this post because I, for one, am sick and tired of hearing adults argue that just because one group did something wrong it is somehow okay for the other group to do something wrong.

THIS IS WRONG.

Two wrongs do NOT make a right…they make for two wrongs that build on one another and only exacerbate an already bad situation.

As teachers, it is your challenge to somehow communicate that in spite of whatever your students may be hearing on TV or in community discourse, fundamental goodness, honesty, integrity, and justice are not things of the past.

We must keep those concepts alive if we are to survive as a civil and just society. It is imperative that every teacher in the country make this their number challenge for this year.

Please don’t succumb to cynicism.

I know it is easy to get sucked into the nastiness. Please hold yourself above the fray. Please remember that we need you to stay strong. We need you to be good role models for our children.

Don’t give in out of weariness that all this craziness is creating in all of us. You may be the only example of goodness that your children get to see! It is up to you to be a light. It is up to you to bring about an understanding of what civil discourse is all about. It is up to you to try to maintain a cool head in spite of the confusion going on around you.

It is a heavy burden, and I am sorry to lay it on you, but I worry about where we are headed if cooler heads–and kinder hearts–don’t prevail here.

 

Respect/disrespect give and earn respectful a different and other opinion or view

I write this blog for “teachers in distress,” and I am usually writing for those who have considered that maybe they have come to the end of their teaching career. I help those folks figure out what else they might do instead of teaching.

But today’s post is dedicated to those teachers who are showing up in the nation’s classrooms now and in the weeks to come. You must meet the challenge ahead of you. I don’t envy you, but I am glad you are there. Your children need you. Your country needs you.

Equality Rights Balance Fair Justice Ethics Concept

 

Whether you teach civics or history or math…whether you teach 5th grade or kindergarten…we need you to be the voice of reason. We need you to bring a sense of balance and justice and ethical decision-making to your job every single day. We need you to teach your children about fairness and individual rights. We need you to do all of these things.

Thank you for being a teacher. I appreciate you more than you can possibly know and today more than ever.

Until next time.

 

 

It’s “Back to School” Time!

Back to School

It’s “Back to School” time! Sales for school supplies, school clothes and shoes have all started. Even if the school doesn’t start for you until after Labor Day, you have already started thinking about going back, I bet.

In my last post, I recommended that if you are a teacher and you are contemplating your return to school for another year, it may be a good idea to do a “gut check.”

After writing about that, I had teachers tell me that they literally feel sick to their stomachs when they contemplate going back for another year.

That isn’t good.

Here is what I know for sure.

If you go back with an attitude that you are just hanging on by your fingernails, your kids will sense it. You aren’t going to be having any fun, and neither are they.

It bothers me that teacher burnout seems to be on the upswing. After all, if everyone left teaching all of a sudden, what would happen to our kids? Who would teach them?

On the other hand, if you are a teacher who is experiencing the pain and heartache of burnout, it is a cinch that you aren’t doing your best work anymore, and you owe it to your kids to either get your burnout handled or look for something else to do.

Taking care of the burnout may be the simplest approach. Have you taken advantage of the free e-book I wrote a couple of years ago on stress management? If not, I invite you to take a look at it. It is a simple, straightforward approach to 7 strategies for managing stress more effectively and proactively. Burnout is the result of stress gone unmanaged for too long.

Take a look at the book and download it by clicking here:  http://kittyboitnott.leadpages.co/ebook.

Stressed, Stretched, and Just Plain                               Overwhelmed ebook

If you aren’t sure if you are experiencing burnout, perhaps you would benefit from checking out my free 7 Signs of Teacher Burnout Assessment. To download the assessment for free, click here:  https://kittyboitnott.leadpages.co/7-signs-of-teacher-burnout/.

If your burnout goes beyond needing simple stress management techniques, it may be time to explore other career alternatives. As a Career Transition and Job Search Coach, I specialize in helping teachers who are feeling burned out explore their career options.

For many teachers, just knowing that you have options helps alleviate some of the sense of being stuck where you aren’t happy anymore.

So, I urge you to take note of how you feel as you consider going back to school this fall. If you are excited and looking forward to it, good for you.

If you are filled with dread at the prospect, it may be time to get help. Contact me by visiting my website at TeachersinTransition.com.

Sign up for a complimentary Discovery Session. I would love to talk with you to see if I can help.

Until next time.

 

The Doctor Prescribes Summer Vacation to Treat Teacher Burnout

If you are a teacher, you will recognize the truth of this statement:  Summer vacation is the best medicine for treating teacher burnout.

dog sunbathing

Many people–those who have never taught and don’t know a teacher well–don’t appreciate that teachers can suffer from burnout. They think you have a great job. One such insensitive soul recently wrote to me, “Teacher burnout? No other profession had one day off for every day worked! And many of those work days end at 3 PM.”

This individual has never taught a day in his life. Nor does he know or care about a teacher.

From the outside looking in, people think teachers have it easy, though. They don’t understand all of the work that goes into planning, grading, department meetings, faculty meetings, professional development meeting, IEP meetings, parent-teacher meetings, etc., etc., etc.

They don’t appreciate that when you are a teacher, you take on the burdens of your students. Because you care about them, you do everything in your power to help them. You face multiple challenges a day. By the time summer comes around, you need–and deserve–a break.

The teacher on summer vacation will feel carefree for the first time in months. They take charge of their own schedule. They can relax and read when, whatever, and where they want. They can meet friends over leisurely lunches.

There are no lesson plans to prepare and no papers to grade. They have no parents to call and no principals to please for the next eight to ten weeks, and it feels heavenly.

I know this because I was a teacher and school librarian for over 30 years. I experienced the freedom of summer vacations a few years during that time. Most summers, I wound up working because I needed the income. I still recall the lazy days of summer during the vacations I was able to take, however.

Unfortunately, summer vacations are partly responsible for keeping teachers stuck in the profession long after it feels satisfying. Over the summer months, it is easy to forget the frustration of the previous year. By mid-summer, when school supplies go on sale, most teachers start to look forward to the beginning of the new year.

This is partly why teachers stick with teaching even when they are deeply unhappy. I have written about the cycle that keeps teachers stuck in this blog.

If you are a teacher who has complained about your job for the bulk of the past school year, you need to take a look at that post. Letting summer vacation lull you into inaction delays what may be inevitable. If you are a teacher who thinks that you have made a wrong career choice or that you are ready for a different choice, I recommend that you don’t wait. Start investigating your career alternatives now. Consider what your dream job would be if it isn’t teaching after all.

“Dream Job” is written in the sand.

I recently hosted a webinar about how to create a plan for leaving teaching, and one of the participants commented that she wished she had started making her plan five years ago. It reminded me that there is no time like now.

In fact, it reminded me of the adage that the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The next best time is now.

You can’t change the past. You can’t predict the future. You only have now. You get to choose how to handle the present.

Your dream job does not have to remain a dream. We currently live in an emerging economy where people are creating their own jobs every single day. They are retooling themselves. They are recreating themselves. I did it. You can too!

I am excited at the possibility that we are on the cusp of a new economic era. One in which people are doing more of what they love. They are creating work for themselves that they not only love and feel satisfied doing, but they are contributing to the world in a meaningful way. It is possible. Millions of people of doing it right now. You can too, if that is what you want.

Enjoy your summer vacation. You deserve it. You earned it. But don’t let the time slip away when you could be looking into your various options.

Truth is, you may decide that teaching is what you were meant to do, and you will decide to stick with it. Making that decision will help you will feel more empowered than you did before. You will feel more in control of your own professional destiny.

If you decide that teaching has lost its attraction to you, however, there are many other things you can pursue instead. You just have to be open to looking into them.

If you are open to examining your alternatives, you may be interested in a free guide on the 10 things you should consider if you think you are ready to make a job or career change.

Get this 95-page guide on the 10 specific considerations you may or may not have thought of and how to deal with them. Click here to get your FREE copy.

If you haven’t looked for a job for a while, there is a lot you don’t know and haven’t thought of. This guide will help you avoid some costly mistakes.

Do you need help looking for your next career opportunity? Why not try out a 20-minute complimentary Discovery Session? Just click here for my calendar. I would love to chat with you about your possibilities.

Kitty J. Boitnott, Ph.D., NBCT, RScP is a former educator and Past President of the Virginia Education Association. After over three decades teaching and advocating for public education, she retooled and reinvented herself. She became a Certified Life Strategies and Stress Management Coach and a Career Transition & Job Search Coach trained by a nationally known career expert. Kitty specializes in helping teachers who are suffering from teacher burnout. She is the owner and CEO of Boitnott Coaching, LLC and the founder of TeachersinTransition.comTeachersinDistress.Wordpress.com, andKittyatCareerMakeover.CoachesConsole.com.

Not sure is you are experiencing teacher burnout? Check yourself with this free checklist. Click here:  :  https://kittyboitnott.leadpages.co/7-signs-of-teacher-burnout/

Business man in office with burnout syndrome at desk

Teacher feeling burnout.

In addition to one-on-one coaching, Kitty provides training and workshops on stress management for educators and busy professionals who need to learn how to better manage the stress in their lives in addition to career transition counseling and job search advice.

Work should be fulfilling and FUN! If you aren’t living the life and working at the job or career of your dreams you need to consider what changes needed to be made. Contact Kitty for a Discovery Session now.

It’s TESTING TIME for Teachers and Students

If you are a teacher, you are probably already feeling the pressure of testing time, and it isn’t even April! I have started getting messages from teachers who are too busy to think about what they might want to do next year career-wise. They are in simple survival mode.

And I get it.

During my last 20 years of serving as a library media specialist at the elementary school level, I served two schools. The first school struggled for the first year or two after testing mania took hold in Virginia, but once we figured out what we needed to do and we actually had a curriculum to follow, we got accredited and it was fairly smooth sailing each year. Teachers were concerned, of course, and the spring drill began there just like it does most other places, but nobody was losing sleep worrying about whether the school would meet accreditation standards.

That changed when I changed schools in 2001. I moved from a fairly affluent suburban community to a Title I school with a majority minority population. The year I arrived was the year after the school had finally reached accreditation status after years of being on the state department’s list of “failing schools.”

The photo below sums up how most of my colleagues felt for half of the school year.Business man in office with burnout syndrome at desk

In fact, I recall the tension beginning to build as early as February…months before the tests were to be administered. The climate on our campus changed dramatically. You could feel the tension as though it were a palpable substance. Teachers worried…would they be able to get their kids through this year or would we go back to being blacklisted by the state?

I was there for eight years, and that anxiety from February through June never stopped. Each year, teachers and administrators brainstormed new ways of trying to drill the standards into the children so they would pass the standardized tests.

I wasn’t a classroom teacher, so during each spring testing season, I was called upon to proctor. It always made me sad. I watched the teachers fret and the children struggle. The students all knew on some level that the stakes were high. They tried very hard. And each year, from 2001 until I left in 2008, they managed to pass, but that never alleviated the concern that they might not.

This is the time when stress really ramps up for teachers. They begin to lose sleep, staying up late making lesson plans or grading papers, or brainstorming ways to get their kids to understand better what they need to know for the tests.

They begin to eat more because they are stressed out. They begin to forget about exercise. Who has time? They start to gain weight but are too busy to do anything about it.

They leave off getting together with friends for the same reason. They are just too busy and preoccupied to be very sociable.

I get it. I’ve lived it. But here is what I know for sure. Taking on the weight of the world during this season will maybe mean the difference of a point or two on a student’s test, but it could ultimately make you sick.

Stress gone unchecked can raise your blood pressure, cause early onset diabetes, bring on heart attacks, and gastrointestinal issues.

This is the time of year when you need to take better care of yourself. It is more important now than ever!

Download my FREE eBook, Stressed, Stretched, and Just Plain Overwhelmed:  a Guide to Managing Your Stress and Creating a Greater Sense of Work-Life Balance. 

I can’t guarantee that you will feel as stress-free as this woman:  

stressfreewoman

But I can guarantee that you will learn some strategies that may help you cope more effectively during these last few months of school.

I also invite you to attend a live, FREE workshop entitled, “Stress Management Tools for Teachers.” 

To register, click here.

During this 60-minute class, you will learn more about the seven specific strategies that I recommend for you in the book. These are strategies for you to practice not just during the spring testing season, but all year long. You need to take care of your health! If you wind up sick, what happens to how your students prep for their big tests that are coming up?

Don’t let the testing season bring you down! “Do your best and forget the rest” as Tony Horton says. You need to be present for your spouse and your own children, after all. Heck, your students will be negatively affected if you are stressed out and cranky because you feel overwhelmed with work responsibilities.

So what do you say? First download the free eBook here.  Report cover Final (1)

Then sign up for the workshop, “Stress Management Tools for Teachers” here or click the button below.

Big red sign up now button

Photos by Shutterstock.

Until next time.

 

 

 

Why Teachers are Leaving, and Why We Should All Care


As another school year winds down, I find myself communicating with dozens of teachers each week either by phone or email. The conversations run along similar lines, and the theme remains consistent:  “I love my kids. If I could just teach, I would be happy to continue, but there is more to it than loving kids, and I just can’t do it anymore. Can you help me?”

This conversation breaks my heart every time I engage in it, but I do so because I want to help those teachers who are experiencing the pain and heartache of burnout.

Without exception, the individual with whom I find myself talking is smart and talented and started out with high expectations and pure intentions. Each one once had a sincere desire to be a great teacher. The experience of each person I have talked to has varied from five to 26 years. Some have been in one school, and others have been in different schools, but the story lines are similar regardless of whether the teacher in question is calling from Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando, or Richmond, VA. “I just can’t do it anymore. Can you help me?”

unhappyteacher

I tell each of them that I can relate. I left public education after being one of its fiercest advocates four years ago. I took early (I mean early) retirement because the idea of returning to a classroom to teach to curriculum standards I didn’t believe in and administering tests that are a travesty were unpalatable options for me. I left teaching and public education prematurely because I was burned out after four years as President of the Virginia Education Association. In part, I left because I knew I didn’t have the physical energy or stamina to take on teaching middle school English. I hadn’t taught English since 1980! Mostly, I retired early because I didn’t have any desire to participate in a system that I believe is counter to what is in the best interest of children.

So I quit–I took early retirement–and I now help others leave the profession sooner than they had thought they would so that they can discover what other career paths they can pursue instead.

My new mission in life is to help others accomplish what I have managed to accomplish for myself:  find work that plays to their natural strengths, their talents, and their natural abilities.

Work shouldn’t feel like such a chore.

Are you experiencing teacher burnout? Not sure? Download the 7 signs of teacher burnout by clicking on the button below.

For the 7 Signs of Teacher Burnout Click Here

For those who are not teachers, here is why you should care about the epidemic of teacher burnout that is rampant and affecting teachers all over the country. If they all decide to quit, and the ones who are eligible all retire in the next few years, who will be left to teach?

Charter schools have become the rage, but they haven’t delivered in spite of all the hype about them. I don’t believe they are the answer.

And even if charter schools, private schools, and virtual schools were suddenly to provide the answer, they cannot possibly address all of the needs of all of the children who currently have a barely surviving public system to support them.

I worry about the future of public education in the country, but I am dedicated to the individual teachers who call me asking for my help. On a macro level, I think we are about to experience a teacher shortage of epic proportions. I worry that no one seems to care.

On a micro level, however, life is too short to spend it doing something you don’t enjoy…no matter what it is.

If you are a teacher experiencing the pain of teacher burnout and stress, here is a “cheat sheet” of suggestions for how you might better manage the stress of your current situation. Click on the button below:

For the 7 Signs of Teacher Burnout Click Here (1)

Whether you are a parent, a grandparent, or just a citizen with a passing interest in what is happening in the world, I believe you should care about what is happening to our teachers and in our nation’s schools. The grinding nature of the job has become too much for too many, and they are looking for a way to escape. I am here to help them, but I also worry about the vacuum that is being left in the wake of their leaving.

We should all care about what is happening to public education in our country…before it is too late.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teachers, Are You Feeling the Painful Symptoms of Burnout?


Since I recently changed my headline on LinkedIn to “I help burnt-out teachers find career alternatives that are perfect for them because work should be fulfilling and FUN!” my LinkedIn connections have gone up almost 400 in less than one month. I am receiving at least four messages a day from teachers of all ages and all stages of their careers asking for more information about what I do. They want to know how I might help them because they have self-identified themselves as “burnt-out.”
Spring is the time of year when the feelings of exhaustion and a sense of overwhelm are most acute for teachers and students. Spring testing is driving every activity in every classroom across the country. Students in schools where passing the benchmarks is a given feel less pressure than those who attend at-risk schools. In those schools that have been deemed “failing” or “at-risk,” students feel the pressure just as much, if not more than their teachers. Kids know that their futures depend on upon how they do on standardized tests. For seniors, graduation hangs in the balance. Regardless of age or grade level, for those who don’t test well, this isn’t a fun time of year.
Fgrade
For the 7 Signs of Teacher Burnout Click Here

When I talk to them about their interest in my services, teachers tell me pretty much the same thing:  “I still love my kids, and if I could just teach without all of the other “stuff,” I would be satisfied to stay. (They often use a more descriptive term than “stuff.” I’ve cleaned it up for a G-rated audience.)

The problem is that the other “stuff” has become a non-negotiable part of the job!

Arbitrary standards that are attached to equally arbitrary test scores which have been linked to teacher evaluations (thanks for nothing, former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan) have made teaching an untenable proposition for a large number of teachers.

While the economy was crippled due to the economic melt-down of 2008-2009, many of the teachers who started suffering from job burnout long before now stayed put because there weren’t a lot of other jobs available to them. As the economy improves, however, the possibility that there might be other opportunities available to them has created a desire for many teachers to want to at least explore their options.

When teachers contact me, I tell them that I can’t offer them a job. I am not a recruiter. I am a Career Transition and Job Search Coach specializing in working with teachers who are feeling the pain and disillusionment of job burnout and who are ready to explore their professional alternatives.

Teachers need my help because many of them fall into the trap of thinking, “I can’t do anything else…I am ‘just’ a teacher.”

Here is the thing:  Because teachers are well-educated, have a solid work ethic, learn quickly, and are good communicators, they are ideally suited for many other lines of work. They just don’t know it yet! And that is where I can help.

What makes me an expert? I was a teacher and librarian for over three decades. I then went on to become the President of the Virginia Education Association. When I left that job I was burned up…worn out…done.

teacher burnout

I couldn’t find the energy or the desire to go back to the classroom although had there been a library for me, I probably would have gone back. What I was offered was a middle school English position which was out of the question for me. I knew I didn’t have the physical stamina. I didn’t have the emotional resilience that I would need to deal with middle schoolers. More importantly, I didn’t have the desire.

I believe that children deserve to have teachers who want to be with them. So, I retired a full six years earlier than I had planned.

Once I made the decision to retire, I felt relief flooding over me. I knew I had made the right decision for me. I took some time off to rest, and I needed a lot of rest.

At the end of six months, I decided it was time to reinvent and retool myself. That was three years ago.

I have established my own business, and I worked with one of the premier career coaches in the country where I received top notch training. I then launched out on my own, specializing in working with teachers who need my help in finding a new career path because their teaching career no longer lights them up or provides the sense of joy and satisfaction they hoped to find when they decided to become a teacher.

Melissa Bowers, a former teacher now turned writer, recently nailed it with 7 reasons teachers might not want to teach anymore in her blog which was offered in Huffington Post I believe many teachers will be able to relate to one or more of those reasons.

So what to do if you are ready for a change? Before we can determine if you need help, you should determine if you are, in fact, suffering from the symptoms of teacher burnout.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do you find yourself dreading going to work, feeling anxious on depressed on Sunday night before having to go to work on Monday?
  2. Do you feel stuck and unhappy because you don’t see room for advancement or promotion?
  3. Do you feel that you have control over your classroom and your curriculum, or do you feel that all of the major decisions are made for you, and you must comply…or else?
  4. Do you feel disillusioned because teaching isn’t what you thought it would be (or it has changed since you started)?
  5. Are you having trouble with sleep because you are worried about finances, your students, your general sense of overwhelm?
  6. Are you lacking the energy and drive you need to be consistently productive and effective on the job?
  7. Are you having physical issues such as headaches, backaches, gastrointestinal issues or other ailments?

If you answered “yes” to any of these seven questions, it might be time to consider making a career move.

 

stressed woman on computer.

For the 7 Signs of Teacher Burnout Click Here (1)

Regardless of your current level of job burnout or just general stress, if you are still reading this post, it means you need to consider taking action today to get yourself out of the rut of a job that no longer serves you. You are considering new goals or ridding yourself of a situation that is sucking all of your enjoyment out of life.

You get one shot at this life. You need to make the best of it.

If you have questions, thoughts, or suggestions that have worked for you, I hope you will share. My only rule for commenting on this blog is to keep it civil, keep it appropriate and keep on topic.

If you would like more information, please feel free to contact me at http://kittyatcareermakeover.coachesconsole.com or fill out the contact form below:

Until next time.

Thanks to Shutterstock for the photos.

 

 

 

Why Teachers Can’t Win

Detroit City school teachers called for a sick-out and closed 94 schools in the beleaguered city today. The sick-out is the result of the teachers learning over the weekend that Detroit Public Schools will not be paying them after June 30th unless the legislature comes to the rescue with additional funding. The problem with that is that the teachers will have already earned the money that they won’t be receiving for July and August.

Ironically, Teacher Appreciation Week began this week.

Teachers can’t win because they are halfway expected to work for free and to do it without complaining. The public has grown used to a paradigm that involves teachers sacrificing everything and working their hearts out, and even using their own salaries to pay for classroom supplies that their districts won’t provide.

It is ridiculous.

What is even more ridiculous is that the commentators on the news this morning…the pundits who have an opinion about all things whether they know what they are talking about or not criticized these teachers when none of them have a clue as to what kind of sacrifices teachers make daily. Additionally, politicians and legislators won’t own up to their culpability. Somebody has mismanaged millions of dollars or else the money would be there to pay those teachers. Where is the outrage about that?

I was a teacher for over 30 years. I never had to go out on a sick-out. I also never had to go without a paycheck, although I worked second jobs for two-thirds of my career in order to make ends meet.

The narrative that charter school supporters and education reformers have created is that teachers should be selfless. They should be super human beings. They should be the Superman that everyone is waiting for, and it is beyond ridiculous!

Let’s face it…without a sick-out today in Detroit, the rest of the country wouldn’t know about–or care about–what is happening there.

It is true that when teachers don’t show up to teach, it takes a toll on their students. I guarantee that there isn’t a teacher on the picket line today who isn’t aware of that fact.

Having said that, taking the news of no paycheck this summer without taking some drastic action would only embolden legislators to take the risk that they won’t have to ante up to pay their teachers for work already performed.

Teachers can’t win because if they fight for themselves and their own families, they are criticized for being selfish. If they don’t fight and just keep working for nothing, however, they embolden other legislatures to do the same to their teachers.

They can’t win.

And it is ridiculous.