You are not alone. This last semester was the most difficult semester I’ve encountered in my teaching career, which explains why I haven’t written in my blog in a long time. But recently I have been researching the issue and visiting a couple of places and talking with faculty about burnout.
Here’s the bad news: more and more educators are struggling with burnout, which Jonathan Malesic identifies as caused by the gap between your ideals for your work and your actual work environment. That means in virtually every area that is important to educators, we are experiencing greater disconnect from what we hoped for. Here are those areas:
Which one stands out to you? To me, it is “control” and “reward”. I began teaching because of the autonomy. I love the idea of having control over my classroom and outcomes. But with a runaway culture of assessment, I spend more of my time justifying to others that I’m doing what some administrator thinks matters than doing what I know actually matters.
And don’t even begin to talk to me about “reward.” I’m not someone who needs a lot of pats on the back, but lately it seems I’ve gotten only slaps on the wrist. After a while, you get cynical, and begin to think that no one cares that you are bringing it—day after day after day. And when your administration views you and treats you as replaceable, you are on your way to burning out.
So here’s the good news: I’m telling you that God is telling you that you are irreplaceable. NO ONE ELSE CAN DO THE WORK YOU DO. Your students need you to come out of a place of wholeness. Don’t look to the administration to give you that wholeness! Do not expect anything from any of your superiors. Instead, fence off your time, limit your commitment to work that doesn’t help you to reach your goals, and push back against “shadow work” like email and unnecessary meetings. You are a whole person, loved by God, and here to love your students. You are not a tool. Don’t let them treat you like one.
As always, my self-guided video retreat and masterclass on teaching can be found here. Email me for a discount code!