Sep 09, 2019

How Can Teachers Avoid Burnout 

It's been quite a summer around the Harper household. Everyone is now back in school and the day-to-day routine and grind of the 2019 - 2020 school year have begun.  I strategically placed this season three opener a week after Labor Day because I wanted this first episode of the season to relate to all teachers - at least those teaching in the United States - in terms of back-to-school encouragement. 

Today, we’re talking about teacher burnout and what to do about it by beginning where you are.  You may be saying, Amber, what do you mean “begin where you are”? I'm at school and already always feeling overwhelmed?  Those feelings of stress and overwhelm usually start to creep in around week two, but don't worry, I gotcha! This episode is all about how to break out of burnout so you can go into this school year free of burnout.  As we spend time with each other moving forward in this season, both the school season and the season of this podcast, you're able to take actionable steps against your specific type of burnout. 

Let me ask you something, have you ever felt so overwhelmed with frustration and stress that you don't even know where to begin? Or have you ever been so isolated by the feeling that no one could possibly understand your situation and how you're feeling? Or have you ever said to yourself, I can do it all myself?  Maybe you’ve told yourself:  I'm too old, I've been doing this too long to change my situation, or  There's nothing else out there for me. No matter where you are on your journey out of burnout, this episode is all about starting where you are so you can take your next best steps both as a teacher and in life. 

Today we are thinking about how you get out of teacher burnout.  To do that, I’m going to give you the teacher burnout help that you need by sharing five steps that I'm going to encourage you - and challenge you - to take this so you can begin where you are in identifying what has brought you to this place of burnout. 


Step #1: Identify your teacher burnout type.   

Identifying your burnout type is a great place to start. By taking the quiz, you’ll find out if you’re Burned and Over-it, Burned and Unbalanced, Burned and Bored, or Not Burned Out, or Just Need a Slight Adjustment (this means you’re feeling like something’s off and you can’t quite put your finger on it yet). Here is what each of the burnout types means: 

  • Burned and Over-It: You find yourself saying things like No matter how hard I work, I'll be disappointed with the results, and your start to feel consistent feelings of negativity and apathy.
  • Burned and Unbalanced: This is the most popular outcome of the quiz. For this burnout type, you’re struggling with balancing everything and you feel like there’s so much to do and not enough time to do it all.
  • Burned and Board: This is where you're not feeling frustrated or negative, you're just feeling a little under-challenged or that you’re not reaching your true potential.


Step #2: Identify your Stage of Burnout. 

The next step is identifying the Stage of Teacher Burnout that you are in. There are six burnout stages: 

  • Stage 0: Burned-out
  • Stage 1: Build Your Spark. 
  • Stage 2: Build Your Ignition
  • Stage 3: Build Your Flame
  • Stage 4: Build Your Fire
  • Stage 5: BURNED-IN!

By looking reflecting on what you’ve done, what you’re currently doing, or what you’re thinking about, you can determine just how burned out you really are, which is extremely powerful.  

When I’ve worked with teachers and they have taken the quiz and they are able to name their type of burnout,  you can see their shoulders relax, they sit back in their seat, they smile at the person sitting next to them because they realize that they are not alone in how they are feeling - they realize that they are not crazy.


Step #3: Reflect on how long you’ve been where you are - physically and emotionally.

Once you know your Burnout Type, you know your Burnout Stage, you need to really think about how long you've been where you are, both physically and metaphorically. Ask yourself these reflection questions: 

  • How long have I taught this grade level? 
  • How long have I worked in this building? 
  • How long have I worked in this district?
  • How long have I been in this physical classroom?
  • How long have I felt this way? 
  • When did I have my first twinge of burnout? 
  • When did I first start questioning my choice to become a teacher?

We’ve really had to dig deep into the why of how we got to where we are so we can take the appropriate action steps to grow from our burnout.  I'm all about self-care, I even did a whole Summer Self-Care Series, but self-care is also taking action and taking care of yourself by really paying close attention and doing things you've never done in order to get yourself out of this place of shame, isolation, frustration - burnout. 


Step #4: Identity who your people are

The next step is identifying who your people are. This is an important step because, in the steps coming up in the Burned-In Process, we are continually bringing it back to our people.

What identifying who your people are comes down to is - who do you want to have the biggest impact on in these changes that you're making? Your people could be your students, or maybe you have an excellent rapport with your students, but you have a terrible relationship with your administrator, or your colleagues. When determining who your people are think about who is it that you really need to work on building a bridge rather than a wall


Step #5: Determine your core values.

Do you know what your core values are?  What are the words/ideas that you're going to come back to when you have to make a tough decision, or when things just get hard? Now Brene Brown suggests that you choose two core values and there are hundreds of words that you can choose from - you can find a list to get you started by doing a Google search.  

Once you’ve identified your core values, write them down and come back to them every day.  Make your words visible and live and breathe them and know them to your core - that's why they're called core values. 


There you have it, five steps to Begin Where You Are and take your next best step to grow through your burnout. These steps will help you to narrow your focus as you begin to take actionable and impactful steps out of burnout this school year. 

That's all I have for you for this episode and I want to leave you with this piece of advice - as you go into your week and the Agent of Same Perfection Patti says, If this isn't perfect, it's not good enough to use or do you're going to call on the agent of change, remember the words of Try it out, Trevor. You're going to tell yourself:  I am brave enough to try new things and make mistakes. and learn from them. So as you're trying these things you've never tried before, talk positively to yourself. You are your own hero. 



  1. Identify your Burnout Type.  Take my free quiz and get a personalized email with YOUR next best steps sent right to your email.  
  2. Think about who you want your people to be.
  3. Determine your core values and make them visible!  Hang them up where you can see them so you can be reminded and inspired by them daily. 






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