Like doctors, teachers are burning out too

We did a show about doctor burn out last week. It prompted a teacher to write in with her story:

I’ve always thought of (burn out) in the abstract….tired of the rat race, fighting the big machine….but the terms cynical, detachment and less feeling of personal accomplishment really hit home. The longer I teach, the more I find myself detaching and feeling almost clinical in it.

It’s really difficult to get attached to kids and families (especially in difficult poverty or abuse situations) and feel as though nothing you do can change things.

She thought her burn out sounded similar to that described by doctors in the study from the Mayo.

Kerri wanted to know if other teachers felt the same. Share your stories in the comments.

–Stephanie Curtis, social media host

  • john sherman

    This morning show on teacher evaluation had several callers who were former teachers; it might be worth wondering why they were former, rather than current, teachers. We worry about not having enough science and math teachers, but a friend of mine in science education says that his preliminary research suggests that the five year retention rate is about 50%. Somebody ought to be looking at the retention of science and other teachers.

    I’m retired from teaching at Moorhead State, so over the years I’ve taught a lot of people who became teachers, some of whom became former teachers. I’ve never talked to anyone who got out of teaching because of the kids, but tyrannical principals, bone-headed administrations, small town politics, uncompetitive salaries–that’s another story.

    I don’t know whether one needs to be brilliant, charismatic or empathetic to be a good teacher, but I do know a teacher needs stamina. The husband of a colleague was a well respected principal, and I remember him worrying about his senior staff; he said they were really good teachers, but he was worried that they were worn out. People who don’t teach fail to realize that teaching is hard work.