Teacher burnout is real. It’s frequent. It’s harmful. It’s not shameful, but it does need to be addressed. This post is a book review of The Burn Book, chapter 8 “Too Many Irons in the Fire.”
The Burn Book offers 8 strategies to recognize and extinguish teacher burnout by author Colleen Schmit.
In this book review, you’ll receive facts and stats about teacher burnout and highlights from chapter 8 of the book.
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Strategies to Recognize and Extinguish Teacher Burnout
Colleen Schmit has a fun writing style that tackles serious topics straight on. She also offers helpful strategies and actionable insights into solving some of the key issues facing teacher burnout today.
The eight chapters of the book each give a unique strategy for addressing teacher burnout:
- Setting Off The Fire Alarm: Conforming to an institution
- We Didn’t Start the Fire: Resisting change
- Standing Outside the Fire: Teaching in isolation
- Adding Fuel to the Fire: Setting the school on fire with negativity
- Flame Throwers: Stop blaming and start collaborating
- Come on Baby Light My Fire: Relationships and engagement
- Fire Breathing Monster: Stopping teacher-to-student negativity
- Too Many Irons in the Fire: Self-care over self-sacrifice
Colleen Schmit candidly explores the eight primary reasons teachers experience burnout…deliver[s] the ‘how to’ needed to extinguish teacher burnout. – Heidi Veal, Early Childhood Programs Administrator
What Are the Facts on Teacher Burnout?
If you Google “Teacher Burnout Stats” you’ll find some alarming results:
- The Teacher Burnout Epidemic from Psychology Today
- Teachers are seeing their colleagues leave at an alarming rate
- American teachers (and principals) leave their jobs at higher rates than other countries
- Frustration. Burnout. Attrition. It’s Time to Address The National Crisis from NPR
- Why are so many teacher quitting or off sick with stress?
Alright, those are the headlines. Headlines are designed to be dramatic.
So what are the facts?
According to the Guardian, 2018 saw a 9% reduction in the teaching workforce and a shortfall 30,000 classroom teachers.
According to this survey of 5,346 teachers in 2018, teachers reported unhealthy sleep habits and long work hours.
The “unsustainable” category addresses work hours that significantly interfere with personal or family times. This equates to frequently working 50 or more hours per week and frequently taking work home in the evenings and weekends.
Teachers also reported unhealthy sleep habits, likely a result of stress and long hours.
Some people can function on less than 6 hours of sleep per night, but the United States Center for Disease Control recommends adults to have 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
Colleen Schmit provides warning signs and solutions for those that are dangerously close to burning out! She hits the nail on the head when she states, ‘change forces growth’. This is something we must all remember. -Barbara Gruener, Author of “What’s Under Your Cape?”
Teacher Self-Care vs. Self-Sacrifice
Chapter 8 of the book focuses on critical self-care strategies. It begins with the idea:
“Taking care of everyone else’s needs before my own was like pouring gasoline on an already growing flame.”-Colleen Schmit
A major problem is then addressed: the feeling of guilt.
Educators are often made to feel shame or guilt (like discussed in Burned Out, Beaten Up, and Fighting Back).
Teachers are underpaid and then requested to do the job for “the love of it” or “for the kids”. And yes, teachers do this! That’s why we all signed up for education.
But it goes too far when teachers are made to feel guilty about taking care of themselves first.
“Self-care is not selfish. You absolutely cannot serve effectively as a teacher if you are not prioritizing taking care of yourself…”-Colleen Schmit
Teachers are heroes. And the pitfall of heroes is their passion to serve.
- Grading papers at ball practice.
- Staying up late to revise those lesson plans.
- Maintaining a household and serving the families of your students.
The job is demanding. But great teachers also demand a lot of themselves.
This is why self-care is so important!
The Burn Book offers great ideas for self-care instead of self-sacrifice. Of course, I don’t want to give away all of Colleen’s great ideas here. In chapter 8 alone, she offers 18 ways to:
- Recognizing When You Feel the Burn
- Extinguish the Flames
Get The Burn Book
One solution to teacher shortages, to demoralization, and teacher burnout is to raise awareness. Get The Burn Book for your teacher teams or for yourself to ensure you don’t have too many irons in the fire, to recognize burnout, and to celebrate the rewards of the teaching profession.
Preview the book at Amazon.
The Burn Book Overview
“Teaching is without question one of the most rewarding vocations in the world. It can also be one of the most challenging. Meeting state standards, pressure from peers and parents, school and district expectations, and sometimes just the grind of trying to keep afloat – all of these are challenges teachers face throughout their careers. Sometimes the combination of these factors can really bring you down and even make you lose sight of WHY you became a teacher in the first place. Burnout can hit hard and fast – sometimes without you even realizing it. But burnout doesn’t have to derail your mission as an educator! Let’s not forget why we got into this in the first place – to serve the kids. The Burn Book will help you to recognize and identify the signs and symptoms of teacher burnout and provide you with invaluable strategies to combat the flames and get back on track with your WHY.”
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