An Open Letter To The Teacher Experiencing Burnout

Four years or seven years, staying in one position or bouncing around to multiple, teaching still might not feel easier. In a majority of the years, you experience so many anxious thoughts and so many sleepless nights. You have countless pits in your stomach. You feel your mind racing and the worries of time closing in on you. You feel that your tasks will never be completed and you know all too well the task list is never ending. These are all indicators that you aren’t feeling settled.

When your students are out of control, you get panicky, frustrated, and your heart starts to race. These body reactions are a powerful indicator that something needs to change in any situation. You know yourself best, but your body knows sometimes before your heart wants to accept what’s happening. It is up to you to decide when you want to move on.

You could also think of it as an unhealthy relationship. Think if you were dating someone and your body felt like that every day. If it were a dating relationship, you would have gotten out of there already. So why not think about how this is not really any different. Speaking of relationships, you’re most likely not investing your time in your partner if you are not hoping for the end goal of a long term relationship or marriage, so why would you think differently regarding our career goals?

You may feel as though your thoughts about school are never really turned off. You make agreements with yourself about your work-life balance, but the thoughts are always there. You realize that even thinking about work when you aren’t there is working. You realize you are definitely working overtime. Working overtime while driving home, cooking dinner, showering, trying to go to sleep. You notice it is becoming a lot.

You start to feel those worthwhile moments do not outweigh the negative experiences you are having. Most of the time, you wish the situations were neutral and even keeled instead of having a horrible week and then having some small good thing that seems to outweigh it. You are exhausted and even more so when the small beacon of hope doesn’t arrive when you need it most. The red flags pile on throughout the months: no TA, rooms getting switched, adding to class sizes which were already difficult classes, no copier toner for weeks at a time, and yes, the student behavior. The list goes on and on and you know it. You sacrifice so much for your students.

I understand if you’re not ready to walk away yet. You have been in this for years and you have invested so much time, money, and heart. You know if you want to keep going in this or not. You know what you are willing to take on and handle. And no one can tell you otherwise. You don’t have to feel alone in this and you don’t have to carry all of it on your shoulders anymore. You carry so much on your strong shoulders and in your kind, giving heart. Thank you for all you do. I see you.