Teachers and mentors are essentially at the base of every other career. They help build a foundational understanding of the concepts that other professions use daily. Moreover, it takes a really special, passionate, and patient person to reach the hearts of their students. However, even the best teachers are susceptible to teacher burnout. Maggie Perkins had been a teacher for years, when she had to give up her passion and find a new job.
Suffering from Teacher Burnout
Maggie Perkins spent five years in public schools, both in Florida and Georgia. She worked with 6th grade through high school students when she finally made the choice to beat teacher burnout. At the time of making the choice to quit, in 2020, she’d been working 60-hour weeks and was making less than $50,000 a year.
Making a Change
Although she was passionate about teaching, it didn’t pay enough to pay her bills and give her peace of mind. “The conditions were not sustainable to have a quality of life,” she told Insider in August. “We grew up going to Costco’s, and so I’ve always known that Costco employees are treated well and have a high quality of life. So, when there was a new Costco being built in my town, I immediately applied,”
Perkins beat teacher burnout! She now works in the membership department and Costco and explained it’s less demanding and pays well. She shared her story on TikTok and has more than 4 million views. “I do not miss it at all,” she said in the caption. “My pace of my work life now is so much better; I am not sick or exhausted like I used to be when I was a teacher.” She said, “My passion couldn’t pay my bills, and my passion couldn’t help me sleep at night when I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
Statistics have Soared
It turns out that teacher burnout is at an all-time high. Many states have cut school funding resulting in further challenges for teachers. They’re having to buy their own supplies. Teachers are making less than livable wages. Furthermore, they’re going without certain resources to which they once had access.
A poll done in 2022 shows 44% of K-12 faculty have suffered from teacher burnout. Post Pandemic, teachers have more responsibilities and more students facing mental health problems, adding even more stress to deal with. There are also staffing shortages faced by teachers and other faculty members that may further eliminate resources.
Teacher burnout is problematic for teachers and students alike. Not only does it take a toll on the teacher’s mental health. It also minimizes children’s access to essential information from a passionate source. Children often stay engaged and pick up concepts easier and more quickly, when they feel encouraged and supported. However, if teachers don’t feel supported by their superiors, they will often succumb to teacher burnout more easily.
Teachers Love Their Students
Unsurprisingly, most teachers say their favorite part of their jobs is interacting with students. Teachers have the joy of watching students grow, helping them to better understand concepts that will further their careers. “Of all the things teachers do on the job, we found that teachers enjoy interacting with students the most – and that the positive feelings when working with students intensified once schools shifted to remote learning during the pandemic,” said Nathan Jones and Kristabel Stark. They were tasked with interviewing teachers both before the COVID-19 pandemic sparked school closings and lockdowns and after they began.
“As schools reopen, our research suggests that one way to keep teachers motivated and engaged is to ensure that they have time to build and maintain relationships with students. This is something we fear could become lost as school leaders are forced to focus on the health and safety aspects of operating schools as the pandemic continues.”
Avoiding Teacher Burnout
According to Psychology Today burnout is “a state of chronic stress that leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism, detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.” Symptoms may cause disruption or trouble sleeping, appetite or weight fluctuations, and forgetfulness, or depression. The most important thing you can do to stave off teacher burnout is to find balance. Find time to unplug, that means not checking emails after a certain time of day, or taking a break from grading papers to stretch, move around and possibly eat or drink some water.
Taking time off is also highly recommended so teachers can have a few days here and there to recharge. Lastly, having time to connect with colleagues can also be beneficial as it gives teachers time to reflect and brainstorm in order to tackle obstacles with students, parents, or the district. Teacher burnout, much like any kind of burnout, is a very real condition. It takes a toll on the mind and one’s energy or drive to continue on the same path.
It’s no secret that most teachers don’t make adequate salaries and don’t have access to enough resources. As a result, they’re overworked and overstressed. Unfortunately, this will have a ripple effect, creating less, passionate educators who can continue to encourage children to learn, grow, and explore the world around us.
- “A teacher who quit and took a job at Costco says life is much better now – she has a life, can pay her bills and finally sleeps at night.” Business Insider. Jordan Hart. January 28, 2023.
- “Teacher Burnout hits record high – 5 essential reads. The Conversation. Jeff Inglis. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from
- “Teacher Burnout: Causes, symptoms, and prevention.” Hey Teach! Fiona Tapp, Educator, M.A. Science Education. Retrieved January 31, 2023.