The pandemic has had an impact on everybody in one way or another. Due to the Hybrid Teaching Model, teachers have to work both face-to-face and remotely, making the consequences of the pandemic potentially more dangerous for this group of people. All things considered, is it possible that Teacher Burnout has increased?
Firstly… What is Burnout? And how do we detect it?
Due to its importance and increasing tendency, this is not the first time burnout is being addressed at Wemby. To sum it up, burnout is related to high anxiety and depression levels. It is an inadequate strategy to deal with long term stress, and it leads to decreased performance, exhaustion and even depersonalization.
Here are some questions that teachers can ask themselves to see if they may be suffering from Burnout:
- Do I like my colleagues less?
- Are all days bad days?
- Am I always tired?
- Am I more irritable?
- Has my productivity decreased?
- Is it more difficult to focus?
- Have I stopped enjoying the activities?
Teacher Burnout Assessment
Now that we know more about Burnout in general, let’s dive into the factors that contribute to Teacher Burnout Syndrome.
Teacher Burnout and the Covid-19 Pandemic
Sage journals published an investigation about the most relevant factors for teacher burnout assessment after Covid. They underline the importance of constantly assessing the associated COVID-19 anxiety, good communication with the student’s parents, and adequate administrative support. Teacher burnout may provoke low energy levels, extreme exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, memory or sleep disturbances, inability to make decisions, or creativity reduction.
The journal The Conversation explored this topic further after surveying 1,330 teachers in May 2020 from across Canada, including every province and one territory. The survey included 92 questions related to burnout, efficacy, techno-stress, attitudes toward change, resources, demands and coping. They discovered that factors that contribute to their stress and anxiety are:
- Perceived student vulnerability.
- Number of demands they have to answer and time these take.
- The uncertainty and exhaustion of the pandemic.
- Remote learning.
Furthermore, school activities have continued despite the pandemic, as educating children is essential and cannot be stopped. Teachers have had to work both at home and at school, tolerating uncertainty, accepting bigger workloads, and adapting on a daily basis to be able to do their jobs correctly. This has led to a low adaptive responsibility and many teachers are quitting their jobs. From the WCTV, they address this problem, they are worried about too many teachers abandoning their jobs and ask themselves: “How much longer before too many people quit?”
What can be done to prevent Teacher Burnout?
Teacher burnout is growing together with uncertainty and levels of fear. Their workload is piling up and their list of responsibilities continues to expand. All these factors are related to stress, high anxiety levels and depression indexes, all defining burnout.
Due to burnout, teachers are unable to do their jobs neither better nor worse. The lack of interest and drive as a symptom of burnout leads to them quitting, which has strong consequences for their students.
Now that we have defined the issue and its implications, it is important to recognize that there are different solutions. If you are working in Human Resources, are the Director of a school or university and want to prioritize the wellbeing of your people, or simply a teacher yourself, here are a few of these tips to avoid or deal with Burnout, as backed up by Edutopia and The Conversation:
1. Assess the Mental Health Problem
An appropriate wellbeing assessment can be very helpful in order to effectively understand the teachers’ mental state. This is because each teacher or professor has concrete and specific needs, and the assumption that one solution will work for everybody will lead to unsustainable and ineffective mental health programs within the organization. The appropriate wellbeing assessment (flexible, with open and closed questions), adjusted to what we want to measure, is of utmost importance. At the same time, it is crucial that the problem is assessed frequently, periodically, in a formal and informal way.
From Wemby we make an initial issue assessment, then we assign the adequate professional for each user and design a tailored procedure. This process is constantly revised and when it ends we offer statistics and a final report.
2. Enhance Teachers’ Wellbeing
A school or university with a culture and values that encapsulate the importance of mental health and wellbeing will reduce the likelihood of mental health struggles within their community. This can be done in the following ways:
Plan the schedule appropriately
As mentioned earlier, Covid has increased teacher responsibilities as well as their working hours. It is crucial that they are aware of how to stop, think about the new tasks, and restructure their schedules if this becomes necessary.
As a consequence of these new tasks and obligations, due to the hybrid teaching model, working hours have become endless. Teachers never truly stop working: they get out of school, arrive home, and prepare online lectures, correct homework, schedule parent meetings… It is clear that this feeds burnout syndrome and this is why it is very important to establish limits not only when it comes to the amount of hours teachers are working but also when it comes to the tasks they can accept doing.
Early warnings on bad practices
Once bad habits for teachers mental health and wellbeing are clear, it is the right time to inform. Just the fact of knowing certain data can have a preventive crucial function.
3. Contact a professional
Regardless of the importance and effectiveness of all tips priorly mentioned, there is nothing better than contacting a qualified team of mental health professionals that can help you and your organization as soon as possible.
About the Author
Hi! I’m Laura Lillo, a forensic and clinical psychologist. I strongly believe that psychology services should be accessible to all. I’ve worked in prisons and with kids with risks of social exclusion. This has taught me the importance of constant learning and improvement as a person and as a therapist.
If I’m not cooking, drawing or singing, the most likely scenario is that I’m playing board games. Right now, I’m busy learning and writing content for Wemby, an online psychology platform. During my weekends I’m Game Master in Exit Madrid, a escape rooms company.