If you’re a teacher, chances are you’ve felt the effects of burnout at some point in your career. It’s an all-too-common phenomenon and one that can have serious consequences for both your professional and personal life. But what exactly is teacher burnout? And how can you avoid it?

What is teacher burnout?

Teacher burnout is a phenomenon that occurs when teachers become overwhelmed and exhausted from the demands of their job. It can be caused by an excessive workload, unrealistic expectations from administrators, inadequate wages or resources, and a lack of appreciation or recognition for their work.

The National Education Association defines teacher burnout as “a more temporary condition in which an educator has exhausted the personal and professional resources necessary to do the job. Demoralization occurs when an educator believes she is unable to perform the work in ways that uphold the high standards of the profession.”

The telltale signs of teacher burnout include feeling emotionally drained after work, increased absenteeism and tardiness, irritability towards coworkers and students, lack of enthusiasm and motivation in the classroom, difficulty focusing on lesson plans or engaging with students and wish to quit the job.

Because of teacher burnout, around 50 percent of teachers consider leaving their job, and according to Psychology Today, around 41% of teachers leave the profession within five years of starting. This is really alarming! Given their central role in society as a whole, teachers must receive support and adequate resources to prevent them from becoming burnt out.

What are the symptoms of teacher burnout?

Teacher burnout is an extremely common phenomenon that can have far-reaching consequences on both individuals as well as the larger educational system. It is characterized by various symptoms, including fatigue, irritability, physical aches and pains, insomnia, emotional exhaustion, increased cynicism, and discouragement.

Other symptoms are apathy towards learning activities, difficulties in concentration, and decreased creativity levels. If left unchecked, teacher burnout can severely affect the morale of the individual teacher and lead to disruptive behaviour in the classroom. Keeping a closer eye on these symptoms and being aware of them can ultimately help educators combat or prevent teacher burnout in the long run.

What are some of the causes of teacher burnout?

Teacher burnout affects countless individuals in the United States and all over the world, making it a critically important issue to address. Many studies explore the factors that can lead to teacher burnout such as lack of job satisfaction, stressors from the educational system, and having too many students in classrooms.

Inadequate organizational support from administrators and feeling misunderstood or underappreciated by students and parents can all contribute to this overwhelming exhaustion. Poor working conditions and time demands for lesson planning, grading, and professional development activities only add to feelings of powerlessness, making it hard for teachers to have enthusiasm for their jobs.

Furthermore, these issues tend to worsen among those teaching disadvantaged populations or those with special needs. Addressing the systemic causes of teacher burnout is essential for providing educators with job satisfaction and continuing success in their field.
How to prevent teacher burnout

Being a teacher is one of the most rewarding jobs, but it can also be extremely stressful and lead to burnout. To avoid this, teachers should create healthy routines for themselves and practice self-care. When coming home from work, teachers must disconnect from work and find ways to recharge like going for a walk or listening to music.

The importance of other outlets outside of school can’t be overemphasized. Consider starting a new hobby or joining a club so teachers can take the focus off their professional roles. Additionally, setting boundaries between students and personal life will help prevent feeling overwhelmed by too many obligations after work. Balancing work with taking care of themselves is essential to avoiding teacher burnout.

How to recover from teacher burnout?

Recovering from teacher burnout can seem like an insurmountable task, especially when the stress of the job continues to mount each day. However, there are several steps that teachers can take to manage and address their frustration, exhaustion, and lack of motivation. First and foremost, teachers need to create a healthy work-life balance where they can engage in activities that bring them joy outside of the classroom.

Additionally, setting realistic expectations for themselves along with daily goal setting is also helpful to stay organized, on track, and motivated. Taking tangible steps such as these, along with seeking support from school administration as needed, will help teachers to rekindle their passion for leading their classes while successfully managing stress levels.

Books on teacher burnout

To prevent complete burnout, many people turn to methods such as relaxation techniques or counselling appointments. Another great way to give yourself an emotional break is by reading books by teachers and educators who have experienced teacher burnout and have successfully dealt with it. These books provide a wealth of helpful tips and useful pieces of advice on teacher burnout. In this collection, I share with you some of the best teacher burnout books to add to your reading list


Teacher burnout is a real problem that affects many educators. It is important to be aware of the symptoms of teacher burnout so that you can identify it early on. There are many causes of teacher burnout, but some of the most common include working long hours, having too much paperwork, and feeling like you are not making a difference. 

There are several things that you can do to prevent teacher burnout, including setting realistic goals, taking breaks, and seeking support from others. If you are already experiencing teacher burnout, it is important to seek help and make positive changes in your life. 

More sources:
Hoglund, W. L., Klingle, K. E., & Hosan, N. E. (2015). Classroom risks and resources: Teacher burnout, classroom quality and children’s adjustment in high needs elementary schools. Journal of School Psychology, 53, 337-357.

Mearns, J., & Cain, J. E. (2003). Relationships between teachers’ occupational stress and their burnout and distress: Roles of coping and negative mood regulation expectancies. Anxiety, Stress & Coping, 16(1), 71-82.

Montgomery, C., & Rupp, A. (2005). A meta-analysis for exploring the diverse causes and effects of stress in teachers. Canadian Journal of Education, 28, 458–486.

Pas, E. T., Bradshaw, C. P., & Hershfeldt, P. A. (2012). Teacher-and school-level predictors of teacher efficacy and burnout: Identifying potential areas for support. Journal of School Psychology, 50, 129-145.

Pines, A. M., & Keinan, G. (2005). Stress and burnout: The significant difference. Personality and Individual Differences, 39(3), 625-635.