The teaching profession is lauded by some as an easy, cushion job with plenty of breaks. Anyone could do it... "those who can't... teach" kind of mentality. Well the truth is that teaching is stressful, time consuming and not for the weak.
Research shows that Education is one of the hardest industries to make it in. Let me clarify, it is not hard to get in to the teaching profession, but to make it in the teaching profession implies you last and are a successful teacher.
Even the best of the best don't stick with it. Erin Gruwell the teacher from Freedom Writers, only stayed in the classroom for 4 years. It is not easy to be a teacher at the highest level for an extended period of time.
- Emotional Exhaustion
- Personal Accomplishment
This is the teacher that is there to do a job. In their view the job does not include creating relationships. It involves presenting information to a group of students, and assesing whether or not the students grasped the information that has been presented. After that is complete you go home to your own life.
Depersonalization primarily results from a negative attitude towards the teaching profession. In most cases (but not all) it is best that these teachers find there way out of the industry.
Sometimes depersonalization can result from isolation. The physical layout of a campus can influence teachers who become depersonalized. Teachers who are in trailers or those who have little to no interaction with their colleagues have an increased risk of becoming depersonalized over time.
Emotional Exhaustion: This is on the opposite end of the spectrum. Here the problem is that teachers become over involved in the problems of their classroom. They are trying to change the lives of every single student that walks into their door. In some cases they are successful, but the struggle can only go on for so long before there is an emotional breakdown.
To illustrate this point I like to look at the motion picture, Freedom Writers. Erin Gruwell went to a struggling inner-city school and made a impact on the lives of her students. The students were on a dead end path but after they realized Ms. Gruwell cared and wanted to help a radical change in the students lives took place.
That is great, but the other side of the story is that she got a divorce from her husband and her life in a classroom lasted for four years. She was so involved in her students lives that she abandoned her own. While she did make an extraordinary impact on her students, it came with a price.
Dealing with student issues can be emotionally exhausting, it may lead to some great moments but in truth, you may never see the fruits of your labors. Emotional stability is important for teachers. It is important for us to understand what it takes to be a successful educator or we will not make it very long.
Personal Accomplishment:The last reason for a teacher to leave is known as personal accomplishment. Most teachers feel as though they are under paid to be 35 yrs old and have a masters degree. These are typically people who are no longer satisfied with their job because they feel like they are capable of doing other things.
Often these teachers will move into administration or find another job with their upper level degrees. This "burnout" is not due to lack of ability or inability to handle stress but rather it is a decision that is determined with the notion that they can make a larger impact in another capacity.
In most cases of teacher burnout there is a combination of two of these that eventually result in teachers who are no longer happy with their job. Erin Gruwell most likely identified with emotional exhaustion and personal accomplishment. She is not sitting on a couch eating potato chips and watching reruns of I Love Lucy, but rather she is an author and is running the freedom writers foundation. She had an emotionally draining job for 4 years and she left the classroom to pursue her passions in another capacity.
In some cases they may feel isolated and so they they may develop a emotional exhaustion from trying to get noticed, or they may be exhausted and not seeing any results and so they move on to something else.
Why teachers experience burnout is not always a black and white issue, it is complex. It is dealing with peoples emotions about their jobs and so that can never be simplistic. Although it is not usually one factor, we can narrow most cases down into one of these three descriptions.
Is one of these reasons particularly hard on you? Which reason do you most relate with?