Do You Know The Causes and Prevention of Teacher Burnout?

It’s February. Even though this month has the shortest amount of days, it can often be the longest month of the year. This year is absolutely no different! The stress level and burnout rates among teachers are at an alarmingly high rate. This week we are going to look at what is causing these high levels of stress and what primary teachers can do to alleviate some of this stress.

What does burnout even out mean?

According to Psychology Today, burnout is a state of chronic stress that leads to exhaustion, detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness.

According to Adam M. Grant, an American popular science author and professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, “Burnout is being overwhelmed by work. Boreout is being underwhelmed by work. Having too much responsibility is exhausting. Having too little is deflating. Idle time and pointless tasks undermine energy. Motivation depends on balancing what’s meaningful with what’s manageable.”


Wow! Take a second and read that again. 


Now think of these definitions in terms of being a primary educator. How incredibly true are these thought processes? We are all feeling the overwhelm of teaching these past few years especially, but there are also parts of the job that underwhelm us (analyzing test scores, faculty meetings, etc.) so we need to find the balance between the overwhelm and the underwhelming. Is this even possible?


Yes. Of course it is, but we may have to let go of old habits to instill new ones. However, once this transformation starts to take place, you will be amazed at how different life looks and how you feel.


“But how does burnout even begin to take over? I thought this only happened to new teachers.”


Welcome to the world of Covid. Covid has changed so much with education, that we can no longer rely on what we always did with our students. We have to think out of the box. As educators, we have a vision for what we think our classrooms should look like and sound like, but so often this simply doesn’t happen. Our frustrations with not meeting these expectations can also be part of the cause of our burnout.

Here are 10 Causes of Primary Teacher Burnout:

  1. Students do not have the social-emotional experiences to know what is appropriate behavior in the classroom.
  2. Parents are contacting you at all hours of the day.
  3. Your “Things To Do” list is never complete.
  4. You feel like the grading/correcting is never-ending.
  5. You have students in your class that you know you aren’t serving enough.
  6. Comparing yourself to what you see on social media is intimidating.
  7. Your commute is simply too long.
  8. There are not enough subs so you feel guilty taking personal or sick time.
  9. So many students need services due to falling behind during Covid, but there is just not enough funding.
  10. You pour your heart and soul into your job but feel unappreciated by students, parents, and administrators.


There are not many other professions that have to deal with these types of stressors day in and day out.


So if you look at these factors, burnout can occur at any stage of your career especially depending on the group of students you are teaching. Yes, almost all first year teachers will hit a point of burnout, but now with educators being expected to make up for all of the learning that was lost during Covid, any educator can and will hit that same point of burnout.


What a task to take on!


And we are not saying that Covid is to blame for all of this burnout because there are so many other factors such as social media, parents having constant communication with us, and school taking on many of the roles that occurred in the homes. You add all of these components in with the ten listed above and that is setting up a recipe for disaster. 


The Mayo Clinic created a list of symptoms indicating burnout. Here are just a few to consider:

  • Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started?
  • Have you become irritable or impatient with colleagues, students, or parents?
  • Do you consistently lack the energy to be productive?
  • Do you find it hard to concentrate?
  • Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, stomachs, or other physical symptoms?
  • Do you lack satisfaction with your job?


If you haven’t done so already, be sure to grab a notebook and answer each of these questions honestly. If you are finding that burnout is in fact impeding your life, then we have to look at options to help you overcome the overwhelm.


So now we know the causes and the symptoms, but what is a primary teacher to do? 


Mama bear mode is now activated for this piece of the post. 


Yes, teaching is a stressful job. Teaching in a pandemic for three years has never been done in our lifetime. But does this mean it’s impossible to enjoy this career?




So much of what we bring to the table for our little ones as educators is the fact that we love our jobs even on the hard days. Our students know when we’re faking it. They have some sixth sense that allows them to just know. 


We have to choose to not let the overwhelm and burnout/boreout get to us. We have to choose what we tackle, when we will tackle it, and say no to everything else. Is this always easy? Nope. However, the more you begin to schedule your time and say no to the things that don’t serve you, the better you will become at it.


So much of what we face in life is brought on by our own choosing. Yes, education is a bit different of a profession because we tend to feel we have to complete 100% of our tasks each and every day. It’s simply not true. 


Choose 3 tasks that will be on your “Must Do” list. If a behavior issue arises during the day and you have to contact a parent, then that becomes a “Must Do.” However, scrolling on Instagram to see what’s happening in the world of education is simply not a “Must Do.” Prioritize what needs to be done, then work from the top down.  

Top 5 Ways Primary Teachers Can Avoid Burnout:

  1. Focus on all of the students and families you are serving to the best of your ability. Do not sell yourself short. If there is one student that you simply can’t reach, remind yourself of the other twenty-some students you did reach. Work with your counselors and special service teachers to create a plan for your student needing more help.
  2. Set your boundaries and stick to them. This can be so hard in all areas of our lives, but it is so important. If you want to workout every day, then create a schedule where you can get up early and get the workout in. Take your email off your phone and start opting out of emails from companies you never open.
  3. Talk to your admin and your colleagues. Nobody is going to understand what you are going through, except the people going through it with you. Have conversations and ask your questions. If you are in an environment where this simply isn’t possible, then come seek out help from us here at Lesson Plan Toolbox. We are always happy to serve you however we can.
  4. Fall in love with the teacher you are becoming. You have to love yourself before anyone else can, including your students. This means stop comparing yourself to the teacher you saw on Instagram laminating her latest center idea or the teacher down the hall hanging her latest craftivity. You may not be there yet, but you’ll get there. Love yourself so you can love your students.
  5. Practice positive affirmations and gratitude each and every day. We hear so much negative talk and tell ourselves so many negative thoughts that it’s no wonder why we feel a heavy burden upon us. Commit to focusing on positive affirmations and gratitude for forty days and watch how your life begins to change. It literally can be that easy because you are in control of your thoughts.



Teacher burnout is probably one of the trendiest topics in education right now. We are going to lose some amazing teachers at alarming rates. Yes, there is so much change that needs to happen in the education system, but it won’t happen overnight. You have to start making the changes you need in your classroom and hopefully, as we all begin to make these changes, a ripple effect will start to happen.


What’s Next?

So what do you do if you or a teacher friend you know is falling into the depths of teacher burnout?


Send us a DM to set up a discovery call with us, so we can learn about you, your needs, and how to serve you to get you on the path towards teacher happiness. You deserve it! This call could be the biggest game-changing 20 minutes of your career. What are you waiting for?


Also, here is must-read about the 7 Habits of Preventing Teacher Burnout. Be sure to find us on Facebook and Instagram for plenty more tips and tricks.




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