Are you burned out?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Scribe, Feb 24, 2013.

  1. Scribe

    Scribe Rookie

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    Feb 24, 2013

    How many years do you think you have left in you?

    I just started reading an article that states that the average length of a teaching career in the US is now 11 years and that a quarter of new teachers leave within their first 5! I have to admit that the report sounds very negative and uses some heavily-weighted language, but I found this quote particularly cutting:

    "Burnouts remain in teaching as “strong insensitives” who are able to cope with the debilitating problems faced by their students and the negative conditions of work in dysfunctional bureaucracies because they no longer take their failures as a sign of any personal inadequacies. They have become detached job-holders who feel neither responsible nor accountable for students’ behavior, learning, or anything else. Their only goal is to do the minimum required to remain employed"

    I have to admit, I know a few teachers like that. How much do you see/feel burnout in your career?
     
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  3. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Feb 24, 2013

    I think that no matter which career path you choose, burnout is possible. Teaching isn't the only field where people are subject to being worn out.

    I've reached the 8 year mark and I feel more energized than ever. I've changed up quite a bit this year and I'm excited to see if the modifications I've made will make a difference in my kids' standardized test scores.

    As far as the paragraph you quoted, I feel the complete opposite. Yes--there are days when I feel overworked, but that'll happen in any job.

    I've got quite a few more years under my belt!
     
  4. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I think that the percent of teachers who leave within the first five years is actually much higher than 25%. That seems very low, to the point of not being believable. I think that the actual number is much closer to 50%.

    I'm not feeling super burned out this year, but last year and the year before were rough for me. I attribute this to the fact that my classes this year have been much smaller and "easier" (better mix of personalities) for me.

    I've been teaching for 7 years. It feels like I've been teaching for at least 15. I think that most of that is because I teach in an urban school, so certain aspects are just inherently more challenging. When I think about having 23-28 more years to go, I get really overwhelmed.

    I used to work with a lot more teachers who were like what you described, but this year we have a strong mix of ambitious go-getters. Many of them are new, though, and I'm worried that they will become disillusioned (if they're not already by this point in the year). It's hard to keep getting back up and at it when it feels like you're constantly held responsible for and criticized for things outside your control.
     
  5. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    National figures like this are really meaningless. In my area, no teachers in that year range are leaving voluntarily (i.e. burnout). They are just escaping the chopping block (layoff)!

    I'm not saying it doesn't happen; I'm sure in areas where an 11-year teacher makes $43,000... burnout is definitely there. Here--11-year teachers are in the $60,000-70,000 range. They ain't going nowhere.
     
  6. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Feb 24, 2013

    A lot of people who go into this profession are just not meant to be in it- the extra stress that society and our administration can put on us doesn't help either.

    This is my 5th year and this is all I have ever wanted to do in my life. I think that is what keeps me going. But January/February/March is usually when I start to get really stressed out and I tend to burn out until spring shows up again.

    My only other plan for life is to be a stay-at-home Mom or work in curricular design, so I'm in it (education) for life. That mindset is what helps me stick with it.
     
  7. Scribe

    Scribe Rookie

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    Feb 24, 2013

    It's really interesting that you say that because the article also states that in an urban setting, the percentage of new teachers leaving before 5 years is closer to 50%! Sounds like your experience matches closely.

    Imagining anything 20+ years out is overwhelming, but for some reason I feel as though teachers experience this more than most. It's like running a marathon year in and year out but the terrain is constantly being changed on you. I hate that it's almost expected that the bright-eyed new teachers will eventually become shells.
     
  8. Scribe

    Scribe Rookie

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    That's awesome to hear! Shows you've made a good choice and enjoy what you're doing. I agree that every career has it's ups and downs, but there aren't many that spring to mind where it's practically a given that you'll burnout. Perhaps it's simply that a lot of new graduates aren't prepared for the job and can only last that long?
     
  9. Scribe

    Scribe Rookie

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    I agree. I'm wary of statistics when it comes to the US because of the huge variations across the country.

    That salary is unheard of where I'm from! Do you think that leads to more teachers coasting through unplugged? Let's be honest, a person can put up with a lot for a nice salary and benefits.
     
  10. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Feb 24, 2013

    I'm in my second year, and I'm definitely tired and frustrated. Not "burned out" yet. I realize there will always be some amount of frustration involved in any job, but when I hear how other districts run (what they have access to that we don't, what they would never be asked to do that we are, what discipline procedures they have and the fact that even the kids know they can get away with murder in ours), it definitely makes me feel helpless. How can it be that other districts seem to "get it right" and have the scores to prove it, and we're still acting like this whole "school" thing is a brand new concept to us?

    Those types of things make me tired. And frustrated. And annoyed. But they also give me motivation to stick it out and hopefully see great changes throughout the years :)
     
  11. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    I am "burned out" with the administrative/school politics BS and all of the "reform" based on high stakes testing. The kids, the teaching, the planning, the parents, even the constant assessing/data- not yet. I'm only in year 3. Especially with the way things keep worsening, I have contemplated many times trying to jump ship into another career. I know I'm a good teacher but I don't see myself doing this for another 30 years or more. The problem I always run into is that I legitimately can't think of another career I'd actually want to have. Teaching is a big part of who I am. I actually really like doing data analysis but I'm not a math person at all so I don't know where I'd go with that.
     
  12. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Feb 24, 2013

    I have been in teaching for over 20 years, and I remember hearing the turnover rate being really high as well. I think one thing is that the first two years are really tough. It does get easier over time.

    I think if you don't keep yourself excited and growing, it is tough to keep going in teaching. When I learn new ideas and see better ways to teach students, it helps to keep me excited. When I see teachers not wanting to go to any workshops or read professional books, these are the teachers I see burn out the quickest.
     
  13. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Feb 24, 2013

    I am tired of paperwork, RtI, and the never ending assessments.

    I try to put that aside. Taking away paperwork, it really depends on my kids.
    1st year- overwhelmed
    2nd year- miserable. I had a super competitive class that fought and argued with each other all the time
    3rd year- fairly good. Colleague went off the deep end, causing me to run 2 classrooms, but overall good.
    4th year- EXCELLENT. I wish I could have that year over and over on repeat
    5th year- miserable again. Class got in trouble with specials teachers constantly. P threatened to take away my planning. Kids were not a problem in my room. I also went through some family stuff.
    6th year- 1st half- good class, horrible relationship with teammates, miserable
    6th year- 2nd half- so far, much, much, much better. New grade level, new team. :wub:

    My point is that it can really vary. If your class meshes really well, it is really easy to overcome all the other stuff.
     
  14. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Feb 24, 2013

    My experience is that the teachers who are like that, were like that by the end of their first year, and they just have decided to be like that. It is very rare for me to have seen a really good caring teacher who gets burned out and then stays in teaching year after year as a poor teacher. Most teachers I've seen that once they taste success in teaching and caring about students, they hunger for more.
     
  15. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    I'm on year 12. I get burnt out about this time of the year. It's better when I have a good class, this year I have a good class. Last year, the parents of my students made for a very rough year.

    I've taught different grades and that has helped. This is the first time I've taught the same grade, at the same school for as many years as I have. I'm ready for a change, which I had hoped would have come this year. I didn't push for it enough last spring.
     
  16. Scribe

    Scribe Rookie

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    I know exactly what you mean. It's almost as if all it takes to kill a teacher is too many bad years in a row!
     
  17. Curiouscat

    Curiouscat Comrade

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    Feb 24, 2013

    I agree that it depends on the circumstances. Sometimes the burnout flares up throughout the year. Other times it flares up at the end of the year. There have been years that I haven't experienced it at all.
     
  18. Danny'sNanny

    Danny'sNanny Connoisseur

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    Not burned out necessarily, but at the point of the year where I'm very, very, tired!

    I'm also really hoping for the chance to move grade levels, because I'm ready for a change. I'm literally dreaming about a new grade - I wake up with my mind full of "plans" for what I'd do!
     
  19. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I think I have 5 years left in me. That will place me at 45 years in education. I hope to spend my last years working where I am most passionate...self contained ESE. I am burned out on general ed, due to things that other posters have mentioned.

    I have to be honest...I have stayed as long as I have mainly because of the vacation time that I get to spend with my family and the chance it gives me to rejuvenate every year.
     
  20. WindyCityGal606

    WindyCityGal606 Enthusiast

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    I have 7 1/2 years left before my 20 years and that worries me because of the pension problems. I know I need to do something to kickstart my heart again with this career because I am definitely burnt out right now but, since I just hit $70,000 this year, I know I'm not leaving this profession any time soon. I feel so excited and motivated when my lessons go well and students are engaged and learning. That's why I got into this gig in the first place. It's the other crap...testing and more testing and making us create our own curriculum that gets me down. I love planning lessons but don't make me design the entire curriculum as well. I get so unsure of myself and worry that I'm off track yet no one wants to admit they're ever unsure about anything at my school. We are so alone when it comes to curriculum and I hate that part of this job.
     
  21. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    Feb 25, 2013

    Every year is different, really. Last year I felt like I had just one more year to give. This year, I have grown tremendously as an educator, and even though I'm exhausted and feel like I'm being kicked lying down, I have some fight left in me.

    1st year: Living H*ell. My co-teacher told me it was her most difficult class in her 22 years :dizzy: My admin ran the school like drill sergeants. Every procedure had a procedure, and there were spreadsheets for everything, lol.

    2nd year: Better, not particularly memorable.

    3rd year: Switched schools and grade levels. Best class yet. Quiet, hardworking, respectful.

    4th year: Teams were changed, no one worked together. Thought about quitting (for real) for the first time in my career. Cried a lot, hardly slept. Was on antidepressants.

    5th year: Switched districts, schools, and grade levels. In some ways, this has been my best year because my district is MUCH more funded than my last; I have resources (human and curricular) coming out my ears. The expectations are higher, but it feels good to work for a well-respected district. My team is a mess, but I work as closely as I can with those that still want to be here.

    Like Giraffe, I agree that every year is different.
     
  22. Elvira

    Elvira Rookie

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    Just out of curiosity, what subject and grade do you teach? I am a student teacher and I definitely can sympathize with curriculum planning being overwhelming. I feel SO grateful to have had a very organized, cooperative high school teacher who pretty much has all of her curriculum laid out. I'm going to 'steal' as many materials from her as I can! :)

    I am kind of nervous for the first year, but since my old high school teacher has such a great curriculum in place already, hopefully it won't be too stressful. I couldn't imagine trying to plan out everything from scratch.

    I am glad to see a lot of you who got un-burned out by switching schools and grades. I sympathize with all the standardized testing though; I feel so fortunate that my area of teaching still doesn't have it

    EDIT: One of my professors keeps a 'feel good' binder where she puts letters student have written her, photos, lessons that went really well, etc. i have started doing the same. It helps me when a lesson goes completely wrong, so instead of catastrophizing ("I must be a terrible teacher") I whip out the binder. I realize that I have succeeded in the past and that I can succeed again ;)
     
  23. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    That is SUCH a good idea. I need to start doing that. Even in my fifth year, I have moments of severe self-doubt.
     
  24. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Year 10 here, and my goal is to hit at least 15--I came into the profession late, so I'll be close to 65 then. Right now it's still fun most of the time, but when it isn't any more, it will be time to go.

    I also keep a "Smiles" folder in my drawer. Any note or card from a student goes in there; I even print out positive emails and tuck those away.
     
  25. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I do the same thing. It really reminds me that I do make a difference even when it might feel like I don't.
     
  26. knitter63

    knitter63 Groupie

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    Love the binder idea. Year 19 here...and there are days I wonder how much longer I can do this. However, it is NOT because I have lost interest or detached myself from the students. It is the politics of the board office, and that I care too much.
     
  27. MATgrad

    MATgrad Groupie

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    I was pretty burned out last year. I had an extremely violent child and in reality got no support. When I got stitches from her, she should have at least been sent home for the day but the parents waved manifestation determination and lawsuit in district's face. Nothing was ever done.

    I switched to gen ed this year and it has been so much better. One grade level, actual materials/resources and common planning. I love teaching again.
     
  28. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I'm feeling very burned out today. Got tons of feedback on how improve a lesson I taught last week. The problem is that the switch to Common Core means I will never teach it again because it isn't going to be part of the curriculum next year. Also, some of the suggestions made today contradict those made previously. Why? Pedagogy shifts faster than I can, sometimes.

    Blech.
     
  29. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    No. How many years do I have left in me? Well, I can tell that after 34 years it is starting to wind down but I still get excited all the time and still love seeing my kids break through barriers they didn't know theycould. Children are still children and if you treat them right they will respond in kind.
    I hope I can do at least six more years. Eight would be better. I tell people my goal is to be the oldest PE teacher in Florida.

    Wow! 13 years and 70k. 34 years here and stuck at 53k the last five years. Need a PE teacher?
    As for pensions we get about 49% of the average of our last four years so right now mine is about 26k. Whoop.
     
  30. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    I agree with the comment on high stakes testing, however I've done this for over 20 years and love every day.



    ___________________
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    http://ed-is-life.blogspot.com
     
  31. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    I love my job right now, but I probably wont do this exact thing for 30+ years. I will remain in education, but I'd like to be a reading coach or something else in the building beyond the classroom.
     
  32. PowerTeacher

    PowerTeacher Comrade

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    This is my 20th year. I love teaching, but the political garbage is daunting. In NC we lost tenure, unions are illegal, and in the next three years your fate will be determined almost completely by how your kids test. I still love teaching, but I have a spouse and three kids. After 20 years with a master's degree I only make in the mid $40k range. Two of my daughters will soon be in college. Frankly, I am frustrated at how much I have had to sacrifice and make them sacrifice. I may have to change soon so that my family can afford to actually make a living. My wife commented the other day that she has a bachelor's degree, and has been in her job for only ten years, but only makes about $5k less than me a year. Her job is not a highly paid one.
     
  33. msufan

    msufan Comrade

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    This is my 14th year. I am in a good suburban district and make $72K plus some extra duty pay, so I have the absolute best situation imaginable. I STILL feel the strain of trying to keep up with all of the paperwork, curriculum changes, test scores used for evals, etc. that everyone else has mentioned.

    I can't even imagine how hard it would be to stay fresh in an inner-city and/or low-pay environment.
     
  34. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Only administrators earn $70 here. That said, I make good money for this area and I am thankful every day for the financial situation we're in.

    I was feeling the burn (feeling pretty crispy, actually) until changing up schools and positions. I am mostly happy now. I still don't plan on working a full twenty-seven years, though.
     
  35. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    After 10 years I have days of burnout but certainly not feeling it big time yet. This year has been tougher than most due to my students and some select parents.

    As long as I'm still excited when I see new ideas I know I'm not burned out. I might be tired, frustrated, annoyed, etc. but not done yet!
     
  36. cheer

    cheer Comrade

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    I'm feeling burned out by my school (admin. and other teachers) more than the students. After 10 yrs at this school, I need a change. I also need to add to my credentials because I've fallen victim to the same attitude of my admin. I used to be that teacher, the one everyone loved to student teach with. The teacher with the crazy costumes and science experiments, I was Ms. Frizzle. I would sing, dance and create with the students. I need to find that same passion by leaving my job. I thought it was the students but you know what it's not, its the set up and dynamics of the school. Thanks to this post I feel rejuvenated to make a change, starting with me. Thanks!
     
  37. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    Mar 2, 2013

    Kudos for looking inward and seeing complacency seeping in... I say this often (that teachers are largely complacent in my area & state), and I'm met with derision. The truth is, the system creates the condition itself. Heck, even for someone like myself, it easily can (and has) happened!

    Anyway, I just wanted to commend you.
     
  38. cometclear

    cometclear Rookie

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    I grew up in an area dominated by dairy farming. Dairy farmers get up at 4 AM to milk the cows, work in the fields all day and then go back at 9 PM to milk again. I have yet to hear any of them complain of "burnout." I also have yet to hear people who swing hammers in the hot sun all day ever complain of "burnout." Ditto for immigrants in the fields all day.

    I sometimes wish teachers thought through what they say and how it affects the perceptions that are created of teachers. There are already ample numbers of Americans with negative views of teachers. Either they were the problem students in class all grown up, they are political/religious wackos who think we are teaching their children wicked ideas, they believe teachers are glorified babysitters or whatever. The fact is that there are quite a few of them out there. I wish some teachers realized how they feed into these negative attitudes by complaining of "burnout."

    Life is hard. I can assure you that there are numerous other jobs more stressful. Most people live in a work environment of unreasonable expectations with bosses they believe to be clueless. You might be surprised how much autonomy you have in comparison to the vast majority of jobs. If you're thinking that the negatives are starting to outweigh the positives, find something else. That's what I'm doing. But few want to hear complaints of "burnout" among teachers, or any other group, for that matter. I don't blame them.
     
  39. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Mar 2, 2013

    I'm surprised you've never heard them complain of burnout. Maybe they use a different term ("just plain worn out"), but many people eventually experience burnout after several years in a difficult field.
     
  40. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Mar 3, 2013

    At this moment, I'm feeling very burnt-out and ready to walk out the door and never look back. I know that I won't, that I don't need to, and that I'll get over this feeling. I'm always tired at this time of year, and this school year has been very challenging, for many reasons.

    I'll definitely teach until retirement--another 10 years or so. In spite of stresses, politics and ever-increasing workloads, I love what I do and can't imagine doing anything else.
     
  41. LouiseB

    LouiseB Cohort

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    Mar 3, 2013

    Burnout?? Sometimes I feel that way but I know that I'm teaching where I need to be. This year has been different as I have a much lighter caseload than the past two years. Next year that will change again and become more challenging. The right school? Not sure about that but the position I have is where I need to be. I KNOW I'm doing what I need to for the sped kids that I teach. I KNOW I make a difference and I love my job. However, I'm not excited about the administration as I feel so unappreciated. I know it has to do with the fact that admin doesn't like sped and everyone knows that. On the other side, I am left alone for that fact so I can do what needs to be done. This year we have a supportive sped director who we can talk with. She listens and is trying hard to work for us. She is also having an uphill battle. I will be retiring within the next 5 to 7 years so will stay put. My salary with a masters is about $50,000.
     

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