Teacher Burnout

classroom hallway

Teacher Wear and Tear?

Students will wear on you. Keep in mind that most children come equipped with battery packs of never ending enthusiasm and excitement. And “our lovelies” are especially on high octane when amongst friends! When I first got into teaching I realized that children routinely live on a natural high. It wasn’t until I had taught for a year that I realized teacher burnout was real. Students already have the unbridled confidence, courage, and spontaneity that life’s “maturity” will eventually thwart. It is through the process of education and the “dumbing down” of education that siphons that natural curiosity, conviction and potential. Some of the things I have heard kids say to me and to their friends have left me wondering if adolescence is really the only period during our lives when people are genuinely honest to others and themselves. Any institution full of children (regardless of age) is a place that is full of energy. The public school is a business that is always on the go. And this is also the reason why so many teachers feel exhausted at the end of the day!

Some days, teaching in elementary school feels like going out sober to a bar or club with friends while everyone else is drunk! That feeling of responsibility, awareness, and utter disbelieve of what is going on around you is almost the same feeling that most teachers experience by the end of a hot spring day. It is the feeling of being drained and tired – the feeling of actually needing a drink for oneself! The high-stakes energy-consuming vacuum that is public school is the reality those in the teaching profession encounter on a daily basis. It is grueling and demanding, not just in a cerebral sense of handling day plans, meetings, and classes. It is also emotionally wearing in dealing with twenty to thirty unabashed, ready-to-go personas on an every day basis. Most teachers who get into the profession are “people persons”. They thrive and desire to interact with people. Most teachers love to talk. However, teaching in a school will throw one’s “people person” affinity into high gear. So be warned – the summers off are needed to ward off the “burn out” that we teachers inevitably face if we had to do this job 24/7, 365 (366 in a leap year – God forbid!)

Teaching is a high-energy profession and it always must be. The creativeness and liveliness that children possess is something that should be cherished, nurtured, and furthered. It should not be stomped out and delegitimized. Unfortunately, somewhere along the “assembly line” of schooling, the creative powers and uniqueness of each child slowly becomes extinguished. We foster attitudes that are dependent on authority and teach our children to equate their self-worth with the marks they receive. We teach children to “fall in line” and aspire to conformity and docile forms of “universality”. As new teachers, it is our duty to circumvent this colossal paradigm shift in as many ways as we can. Inspire creativity and uniqueness. Applaud unbridled confidence. Allow your students to grow naturally; please do not asphyxiate them with the rigor mortis of today’s society. Even if that means you are worn down at the end of the day, we must bare our energy for the sake of our students who have so much to gain.


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Matthew R. Morris

Educator, Speaker, Writer

Matthew R. Morris is a writer, speaker, and elementary educator in Toronto. He has an M.A. in Social Justice Education from OISE at the University of Toronto and is the author of the forthcoming book, Black Boys Like Me. 

Matthew R. Morris

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