What Type of Burned-Out Are You?

A Deep Dive into the 3 Types and How You Can Tackle Your Type Today

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You sacrificing your personal life is not a badge of honor nor does it guarantee your students’ success.
— Burned-In Teacher

You know the feeling. Overwhelm. Exhaustion. Frustration. But, what happens with we have other feelings and we don’t know what it is that we’re feeling about our profession in education? I’ve been doing the research for you and this post brings together my experiences, a research article from Dr. Barry Farber from Columbia University’s Teacher College called Treatment Strategies for Different Types of Teacher Burnout, and Inc.com’s article called 3 Types of Burnout According to Psychologists (and Signs You’re Headed for Trouble) written by Melody Wilding.

Dr. Farber’s research has to do with burnout in teachers and Inc.com’s is about burnout in general. So, what I’ve done is combined both of these articles’ research into Types 1, 2, and 3. I’ll outline what they look like below and ways that you can begin to change your current reality, based on the Type you believe you are going through.

Type 1: Worn-Out or Neglect Burnout

Characterized by Feelings of:

  • overwhelming stress

  • anxiety, anger, and obsession with the multiple problems of students, classroom, and school

  • anger at students for their attitudes, parents for dumping all problems on teachers, and administration for focusing all attention on standardized tests or consuming your time in other ways

  • no one understands or cares what you’re going through everyday and how little support you are given

  • apathy towards your job and daily responsibilities

  • no matter how hard you work, your results are disappointing

  • belief that having your complaints heard is more important than seeking solutions

  • inability to keep up with the unrealistic demands of the job

  • passive attitude

  • unmotivated to do either normal or new things in your teaching

You may say things like:

  • “I don’t care anymore.”

  • “Nothing I do or don’t do makes that much of a difference anyway.”

  • “No one cares.”

  • “None of my students are learning anything, no matter what I do.”

  • “All of my parents are uninvolved and none of them care about their child’s success but me.”

  • “My future is going to be more of the same. Things will never get better for me.”

Ways to begin to tackle type 1 burnout:

  • Change your talk. Rather than using words like “None” “No one” “All” - Change it to “Some” or even “Most”.

    • “Some of my students are trying very hard.”

    • “Most students made progress this semester.”

    • “Some parents really do care about their child’s education.”

      That change in either actual talking or thinking can really change your outlook on the true impact that you’re having in your classroom.

  • Focus on successes rather than Failures. Worn-out and Neglect teachers tend to minimize those successes and maximize the failures and frustrations that happen on a day-to-day basis.

    • Flip those things on their head!

    • Use a “Gratitude or Gratefulness Journal” or Voice Memos on your phone to record the GOOD things that are happening at school every day. This could be something so small as, “I made the class laugh today.” or “Rick smiled with I praised him today.”

      Taking our focus off the negative and focusing on the positive can make a HUGE difference in our outlook on our career and our life.

  • Seek out teachers who can lift your spirits, rather than join in on your misery. It’s okay to continue to be friends with teachers who are happy to oblige your clear distain for your job right now, but do not engage in the negative talk with them. This only increases your feelings of frustration and does nothing to bring you to a better place in your burnout.

    • Find a new teacher and build a relationship of collaboration with them

    • Seek out teachers who are smiling and who you feel will offer uplifting support

    • Talk to your administrator and tell him or her that you were wondering if there are some teachers in mind that could offer you some new, fresh ideas on teaching strategies, classroom management, or planning

Type 2: Classically or Overload Burnout

Characterized by feelings of:

  • great success, great relationships, but the time demands of all of the committees, clubs, and student/teacher support you’ve been asked to lead BECAUSE of your great successes and relationships is too much

  • anger towards other teachers and students who are asking more of you and not respecting your time boundaries

  • working harder to reach more success, but the work is so much and the success isn’t coming

  • not doing things that you enjoy, seeing family and friends, and your personal life is suffering because of your desire to do and be the very best at everything at school

  • wondering if this is the career for you because of all the demands you are trying to meet to be successful

You may say things like:

  • “This has to be perfect.”

  • “I have to be the best teacher.”

  • “I’m a failure unless all of my students are successful.”

  • “Everyone has to like me.”

  • “I don’t want to make anyone mad by saying ‘no’.”

  • “I can do everything. I have to do everything.”

  • “This is just what teachers do.”

Ways to begin to tackle type 2 burnout:

  • Believe and know that Type A isn’t a good thing. Although it’s great to have goals and to want to grow. You’re doing the opposite by believing that you are the only one who can do things “the right way.” Release the control so you can live life outside of school

    • Ask for help with planning, prepping, and delivering lessons

    • Say, “Not right now.” instead of a definite, “No.” - this can help you feel better about turning down other obligations that will suck time away from your day

  • Think about the reasons that you you are so involved and obsessed with doing all of the things.

    • What are your TRUE motivations? (Are you trying to show everyone how awesome you are or are you feeling like you are the only one who can do this thing ‘the right way’?)

    • Are you obsessed with self-image? (Do you want others to believe that you are the all-powerful, all-amazing, teacher or are you feeling that you have the best ideas and that no one else will do as great of a job as you?”

    • Are you dealing with your anxiety or not? (Are you going home and sleeping your day off or are you not sleeping at all because you go home and work more? Do you feel that this is just what work is like and you don’t need to/can’t do anything about the fact that you’re working 70 hours a week or more?)

  • Ask yourself this question, “If/when something happens in my life where I need support from someone. Who is going to be there for me the most? My school or my friends and family?” DO NOT IGNORE THEM.

Type 3: Under-Challenged Burnout

Characterized by feelings of:

  • content with students, families, coworkers, and administration. No anger or resentment here.

  • discontent after feeling like you know what to do in any/all situations.

  • dissatisfaction by the sameness or lack of stimulation by tasks of every day or each year.

  • being unappreciated

  • boredom and lack of learning opportunities

  • disengagement, avoidance of responsibilities

  • cynicism

you may say things like:

  • “I’ve outgrown my job.”

  • “I’ll miss my kids, but I want new challenges.”

  • “I want to work with adults.”

  • “I know I’m doing important work, but I feel as though I’m stagnating.”

  • “Teaching has just lost its spark with me.”

Ways to begin to tackle type 3 burnout:

  • Talk about your feelings with teachers and administrators

  • Voice your desire for change

    • in grade-level

    • in your job within your school

    • in your career

    • in your day-to-day responsibilities

  • Stop feeling guilty. It’s okay to be ready for growth and change.

  • Know that you do NOT ‘owe’ anyone anything. You have the right for growth in your career and in life. If what you’re doing isn’t serving you, move on.

  • Believe that your students deserve to be taught by someone whose whole heart is in the classroom with them.

  • Discover other opportunities in your school or in another career that allow you to serve others and feel more fulfilled.

Which one are you?

What do you resonate with in that ‘type’ the most?

What are you going to do TODAY to being to make those changes in your personal and professional life?

Tell us about you and your burnout!

I challenge you to head over to www.facebook.com/groups/burnedinteacher and tell us all about your feelings and seek solutions for your type of burnout. We’re all different and we all have things to offer the world. You’re no different.

Burn on!

Amber HarperComment