What Burnout Type Are You And The 6 Stages of Teacher Burnout

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?

The goal of conquering burnout is fulfillment. To light that spark that will make you love teaching again. That spark is lit in different ways based on two things: what type of burned out are you and the stage of burnout you are in. When you identify and understand these two things, you can start your journey out of burnout. 

You Might Be a Burned and Over It Teacher If: 

You’ve been battling burnout (whether you knew it or not) in isolation for too long. You’re now so apathetic to your work that you don’t see the point in being in your classroom every day. You lack connection to everyone around you. You don’t know why you’re in education anymore and don’t know what to do or where to start to fix the way you feel. You’re not sure you even want to fix it if it means continuing in education.

You Might Be a Burned and Unbalanced Teacher If:

You love teaching, just not all the extras you’ve committed to handling. Now you’re at a crossroads: Either you keep trying to do all the things you’ve committed to doing and living up to the expectations you and your school have put on you, risking a nervous breakdown, or you make changes. When you started teaching you didn’t mind putting in the extra hours of planning, prepping, grading, and entering. But now, you’re starting to see what you’re missing out on because of all of your responsibilities.

You Might Be a Burned and Bored Teacher If: 

You feel that you need a challenge in your professional life. Something new. Something that will push you to learn new things, meet new people, or go to new places. But you’re consistently at odds with yourself. You feel that you should be happy with your situation, but you just aren’t anymore. Where do you start, and how do you take back control while challenging yourself?

The Stages of Burnout

Now that you know your burnout type, it's time to set you on a path for success. As you read through and come to understand the different stages, think of things you feel, do, and think about regularly. Identify the stage that sounds the most like you. Identifying yourself with a stage will allow you to track milestones and seek growth when you begin your BURNED-IN journey

Stage 0

This stage is easy to identify in other people, and you may recognize it in your past self before you decided to take action. When you’re in Stage 0, you see no point in doing anything: getting out of bed, talking to your friends, or even going to work. You’re so ashamed, sad, and isolated in this place of burnout that you don’t know where to start or even if you can make changes. You may have convinced yourself that this is “just the way it is” and that this is it for you.

Stage 1

In this stage, you’ve admitted that you’re feeling burnout, but you haven’t changed your beliefs surrounding your feelings and thoughts every day. Negativity and guilt consume you, and you blame yourself and others for where you are in your career. Your self-talk and outward conversations reflect your feelings of victimization, and you know the only option is to quit your job and do something different. You dread every morning and wonder how you even got to this place in your life and career. You may find yourself asking, “What am I even doing here?”

Stage 2

In this stage, your thinking begins to change from “Why is this happening to me?” to “What can I do about it?” Your validation and curiosity are leading you down a path to search for answers and support. You’re opening conversations about how you’re feeling and also asking questions that are moving you forward. As you reflect on what’s challenging you, you’re also thinking about what you used to love about teaching, what you miss, and how to bring more of that back into your daily teaching life.

Stage 3

This is the stage where you begin to feel activated and proactive. You’ve identified your triggers, challenges, and strengths. You’re thinking about what you want for yourself, and not just as a teacher. You’re looking at what brings you joy, and you’re willing to make the changes necessary to see positive results. You may even find yourself taking risks and doing things you’ve never done in order to move further and faster out of burnout. This is a transformational stage.

Stage 4

Now you’re on fire. Because you’re setting goals that truly mean something to you, and you have a healthy system of support around you, you’re able to be intentional about making progress every day. You continually find yourself inspired by those around you, and your plan of action evolves as you bring more people into your life who want what you want: a happier and more fulfilled life. You are closer to reaching your goals each day, and you’re planning for if and when “life happens” and hardship arises. Even in uncertain times, your blinders are on, and you continue to be engaged in your daily life.

Stage 5

When you’re at Stage 5, you feel empowered to make solid decisions about what you do and do not commit to, and you are as close to balanced as you can be most days. You look at your daily plan with flexibility and know that even when things don’t go the way you want, you are organized enough to get back on track. You wake up most days with a sense of passion and a renewed strength that you once thought you would never possess.

Now that you know your type and stage, you’re on your journey out of burnout. Consider these two pieces of information as important as the first items you pack when going on a trip. This journey has started with you deciding that you will no longer settle for negativity, doubt, hopelessness, exhaustion, and victimization. You won’t settle for a life you don’t control or that you try to escape from. Good for you!

Portions of this article were excerpted from Hacking Teacher BurnoutBecome a BURNED-IN teacher today.


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