Think back to when you first started teaching. Before you even stepped foot in your first classroom. You knew you wanted to make an impact. You knew you wanted to empower students with the gift of knowledge so they could achieve their goals in life.
But then something happened.
Many things happened. Whether from paperwork, challenging students, or an even more challenging policy or leader, you began to burn out. You felt left behind, pushed too far—or worse, like you didn’t matter at all.
You began to feel disempowered, unworthy, and incapable of changing anything—because the very system you wanted to be a part of so badly had changed you, and not in a good way.
Seasoned educator, author and founder of Burned-In Teacher, Amber Harper, gives perspective and helpful hacks for beating the burnout in her book Hacking Teacher Burnout. You don’t need this book to know that teacher burnout is a problem and that your desire for change and support is real. Harper says,
"You’re looking for real, strategic ways to change your current reality and, ultimately, change your life for the better."
You likely know that teacher job satisfaction has dropped fifteen points since 2009, from 59 percent of teachers claiming to be very satisfied in 2009 to 44 percent in 2020. Forty-four percent satisfaction is the lowest level in over twenty years.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, the percentage of teachers who say they are very or fairly likely to leave the profession has increased by 12 points since 2009, from 17 percent to 29 percent.
As Harper has gone through burnout herself, studied it, and worked with teachers struggling through their seasons of burnout, she's learned that tackling it is not as simple as a standard one-size-fits-all solution.
"Too often, we try Band-Aids, but we are putting them on gaping wounds that require more than a bottle or three of wine to solve."
Teachers face all different types of burnout, and solutions can be as complex as the individuals seeking them.
Chances are, you’ve been through a challenge that rocked you. You’ve felt the effects of this occupational phenomenon called burnout. You have YouTubed, Googled, and read about the signs and symptoms and the call to put on your oxygen mask before helping others.
If you scroll through Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, you will find comedic videos, images, gifs, and memes that glorify the struggle teachers go through every day. They’re hilarious because they resonate with us, but the fact is, they point out an issue.
Teaching is hard, and it gets more difficult each year. And though laughter is great medicine, it’s also only good for the short term. After the smile fades and the laughter stops, you’re still returning to business as usual. Stress. Exhaustion. Frustration. Burnout.
"Sometimes, the shame that surrounds burnout also keeps us silent and isolated, and those roots can run deep, keeping us stuck—or telling us that the only way out is to quit."
But that’s not always the case. Why are some teachers able to create a life they love while teaching, while others live day to day and just go through the motions, feeling like they’re barely keeping their heads above water?
Why do some teachers thrive while others feel like they're just surviving?
And why are some educators able to keep teaching happily for the duration of their career, while others burn out after just a few years?
Hacking Teacher Burnout will help you find the line between feeling fulfilled and barely surviving, so you will be aware when you are getting close to the line and can take steps to stay on the fulfilled side.
This book will help you navigate those challenges and crises and give you actionable steps to allow you to acknowledge, prepare for, and thrive through the hardships. I’ll teach you to build a solid vision for your personal and professional life when things get hard.
As you make your way through the Hacks, know that the goal is to help you find fulfillment.
If you’re feeling ready to get out of education, read this book before you decide. Harper is going to help you take specific action steps that are best for you, depending on your burnout type and your personal and professional goals.
Set yourself up for success, even when hardship is guaranteed. Follow the 8 Hacks for teacher burnout, and get you back on track. The 8 hacks are:
Hack 1: B: Begin Where You Are: Reflect on what brought you to where you are now
Hack 2: U: Understand Your Teacher Brand: Awaken your self-awareness and build a teacher brand you can be proud of
Hack 3: R: Reflect and Take Action on Your Challenges: Rise from challenges and seek solutions
Hack 4: N: Nurture Your Habits and Strengths: Learn what makes you great and how your habits bring out or hinder your greatness
Hack 5: E: Extend Your Reach and Possibilities: Make time for the things that bring you growth and joy
Hack 6: D: Determine Your Long-Term Goals: Create a vision for where you want to go
Hack 7: I: Initiate Lasting Change: Build self-discipline to take intentional monthly, weekly, and daily action
Hack 8: N: Never Settle: Prepare for hardship by keeping your goals and action steps in mind
You are capable and worthy of getting out of burnout.
If you’re looking for a manual about becoming someone you’re not, to please people you don’t like, in a place you hate being, then this isn’t the book for you.
Hacking Teacher Burnout isn’t about faking life as you smile through your misery. It’s about perspective, mindset, vision, and small steps you can take daily to create a happier, more fulfilled life on your terms—no matter what the challenge or crisis.
Everyone’s steps are different sizes and go in different directions. This book will not dictate your steps, but it will guide them.
No matter where or what you teach, consider this your permission slip to be a happy, healthy, fulfilled human being.