Avoid These 3 Common Causes of Teacher Burnout

by | Jan 29, 2018

The causes of teacher burnout are many.
Teacher burnout is serious. It’s devastating.

Every educator faces their own unique range of occupational stressors. And, every person perceives and handles the stress in their life differently. However, there are some common causes of teacher burnout that most educators will face at some point in their career.

When Stress Becomes Burnout

When Stress Becomes Burnout

It’s when these stresses, become less manageable and begin to overwhelm educators that we start seeing the early warning signs of burnout. The concern is heightened when the everyday stressors become all-encompassing – impacting teacher wellbeing, and personal lives.

Pretending that teachers have the ability to change all of the frustrations that can potentially cause burnout would be misguided. It would also be a mistake to assume that teachers are positioned to impact change in all areas of occupational stress- they aren’t. Although it is true that teachers have a level of agency on their own, certain causes of burnout are out of their hands.This makes it even more important to examine what the stresses are and where teachers CAN take action to help fight teacher burnout

Let’s take a closer look.

3 Common Causes of Teacher Burnout

Common Cause: Lack of support

Teachers who report high levels of occupational stress often state lack of support as a contributing factor. This can look different depending on the situation.

For some – lack of support is completely administrative. Teachers may feel they are constantly having to advocate for their program, defend their approach, and fight for their students. Or, they may feel as if all their hard work and effort  goes unacknowledged.

For others – lack of support reaches past administrative backing and includes family or colleagues. A toxic culture at work fueled by negative coworkers or a lack of anyone outside of work to share daily struggles or frustrations with can become a catalyst for stress and burnout. When this is coupled with a perceived lack of support from administration, educators can feel utterly alone.

Avoid it: Create your own network of support

Support in Education to build resilience against burnout

If your hard work and dedication to your students and profession aren’t being acknowledged or you find yourself at odds with administration you CAN do something. Or, if you feel as if there no one to turn to who can truly understand what you are going through you CAN take action.

Develop your own network of support. Lacking administrative support? Turn to your colleagues – they understand the pretense of your stress. Together you can build a culture of positivity and acknowledge each other’s dedication. Don’t have a personal connection that understands what you’re going through either? Turn to the internet. You aren’t alone. There are educators out there who can relate, who are also reaching out to develop a network of support. In fact, Joy in Teaching’s Free and private Facebook groups offers a community of support and you can join by clicking right here.

The important thing is to know that you are not alone.

Common Cause: Your current state of mind

At times we can all be our own worst enemy right?

Facing the overwhelm of an overfilled schedule that can’t handle even one more task… and then two are added.

Knowing that there is always more work to be done, no matter how late you stay or how full your teacher bag is as you head home.

Understanding that no matter how much you care about your students and their well-being once they leave school you can’t ensure their needs are met.

Being so tired that the fatigue makes you just want to shut down somedays.

It piles up, it takes a toll – and we can stop seeing all the good around us and all the joy that is possible.

Avoid it: Play to your Strengths

Support in Education to build resilience against teacher burnout

By taking stock of our own strengths within the field of education we can learn to rely on the traits and abilities that will help us the most to become more resilient educators.

As educators, we understand the value of reflection. We reflect on the challenges and successes of our lessons, how the culture and climate of our classrooms are evolving, and the best ways to meet the needs of our classes. Reflection allows us to make better choices, improve our practice, and be better educators. However, school days are busy and we rarely take the time to turn the mirror around to ourselves.

Joy in Teaching has a quick and fun quiz that can help you identify your teacher strengths. You can take it right here.

Common Cause: Lack of time

Teaching can be hectic. Before you know it life turns into a mad dash of teaching, planning, organizing, emails, phone calls, meetings, more meetings, and grading… with little time left for essential tasks such as eating and using the restroom. Priorities become strained, personal and family time shifts just out of reach, and before we know it our jobs become our lives. It’s easy to fall into this rut, to let the endless to-do lists bury you.

Avoid it: Employ timesaving techniques

Develop habits that can help you come up for air by using techniques that can save you time.

Techniques such as batching your work, setting up systems, and knowing when to say “yes” and how to say “no” to tasks without teacher guilt.

The Resilient Teacher's Timesaving Guidebook

Right now, for FREE, you can pick up The Resilient Teacher’s Timesaving Guidebook with 10+ essential tips you can start using today to save time, to have energy left at the end of the day for family and for yourself, to cultivate and maintain healthy relationships, and achieve some much needed peace of mind.


Teacher burnout is a process, it takes time. Which means there is time to act when the first warning signs present themselves.

There are many aspects in a teacher’s day, that can slowly lead toward burnout that we cannot take control over alone. It’s important to recognize those that we can’t control (in order to let them go, at least a little). And, it’s just as important to recognize the stressors that are within reach. The more aware of potential stress and overwhelm the great chance we have at fighting teacher burnout and reclaiming the joy in teaching.

If you are interested in more ways to build teacher burnout you may be interested in these articles from Joy in Teaching: Mindset Methods, and Habits – How to Effect Change Even When You Can’t and Go Backward to Move Forward – A Resilience Strategy to Motivate Educators


The Resilient Teacher's Timesaving Guidebook

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