How school leaders can actively prevent teacher burnout

All over the internet, teachers have always cited burnout as one of their main challenges. This means there is something fundamentally wrong with their workplaces that has put them in such a complicated position.

Similarly, so many internet gurus have put our articles on how teachers can work their way through burnout, but I think there is more that school leaders can do in order to prevent burnout, because of the following reasons;

  • Many causes of burnout are out of the teachers’ locus of control
  • School leaders have the authority to create order out of chaos faster than their subjects
  • They are the mediating authority between conflicting teachers at school

The article below discusses how you, as a school head, can help eliminate teacher burnout for the welfare of your teachers.

1. Educate teachers on mental health

Some administrators believe that some problems can be contained if you ignore them. However, burnout is one of those that you have to address. The best way to address it is to directly tell teachers about it. Some of the most important things to note include;

  • How to have a work-life balance
  • Best ways to accomplish  a task in time
  • How to reduce stress and anxiety
  • Effects of overwork and how to mitigate them
  • How to address burnout on your own

Much as some of these things might sound obvious, there is a lot that teachers dot do, and it slowly eats them up from the inside. Therefore, the fact that you have addressed the issue in front of them will have the following positive impacts on your staff;

  • You gain trust from your teachers
  • Promotes collaboration between you and your teachers
  • You get to know more about your teachers’ welfare
  • Puts you at a better position to get suggestions from your teachers on how to improve their condition.

As it turns out, the best leaders are those that show compassion and understanding of what their people are going through, instead of using force and compulsion.

2. Encourage Collaboration

Most workplaces have been infested by competition fueled by the desire of all teachers to aspire towards promotion and salary increment, even sometimes at the expense of others in the same workplace with them.

Here are some things you can do to encourage collaboration

  • Encourage them to work in groups
  • Recommend for teachers to share their work and lesson plans with others for joint efficiency
  • Assign some teachers on the same task and encourage them to work together.
  • Reward collaboration

Collaboration and cooperation significantly reduce stress and make the workplace and every bit of work seem like fun. This is because your teachers aren’t stressing one another, and humans are happier in groups.

Part of promoting collaboration includes eliminating vices that are as a result of lack of collaboration, some of which include;

  • Bullying among teachers, especially against newbies
  • Conspiracies amidst teachers
  • Unhealthy competition
  • Enmity and holding grudges

Once you eliminate some or all of these and similar bad habits among your teachers, you are then in a better position to promote unity, collaboration and cooperation.

3. Let them speak out

You probably don’t know the wonders of giving people a voice and letting them express themselves freely. There are a lot of stress issues that are a result of keeping your emotions bottled up.

Here’s how you can give your teachers a voice;

  • Let them know they are free to tell you whatever is on their minds
  • Give newbie teachers equal chance to speak to their colleagues
  • Accept suggestions from all teachers alike
  • Advise your teachers against keeping their issues to themselves

In democratic countries where everyone has a right to speak out and express themselves without fear of physical harm, it is easier to maintain a peaceful state of affairs than in dictatorial leaderships.

4. Treat Teachers Like Professionals

Many teachers, due to the current state of unemployment, usually settle for jobs where they aren’t treated like professionals. But what is the right professional treatment? Here are a few signs;

  • Respectful treatment
  • Good and decent payment
  • Professional workload, and no extra work outside what they are professionally paid for
  • Recognition and respect of the teacher’s rights

By treating teachers like professionals, you give them exactly what their souls want – the sense of belonging. This, in turn makes them comfortable at the workplace, thus reducing the risk of suffering teacher burnout.

5. Support Newbies

Newbie teachers, especially those in their first three years of teacher practice usually find a hard time coping with their workplace, their colleagues and the career in general. That, in addition to the normal teacher stress can culminate into an early burnout. Here are the few ways you can support the new teachers;

  • Supervise their lessons on a limited basis to understand how they handle their students
  • Give them guidance in case they have a few errors in their approach to students
  • Offer protection against provocative colleagues

By supporting your new teachers, you create a healthier and more tolerable workspace for even the older teachers, thus reducing the causes of burnout.

6. Have Fun

The reason many people tell us to do what we love, is because that’s the only way we can get that one single ingredient – fun. Here are a few ways;

  • Crack slight jokes whenever you’re addressing them to reduce the tension.
  • Host parties at every end of the term/ semester
  • Let your teachers participate in sports and other leisure activities
  • Give them some entertainment privileges, like giving them a TV set in the staffroom to make sure they don’t miss out on soccer.

This won’t work for everyone similarly because of course, we all have different personalities, but the effect will be visible.

Final thoughts;

There are more causes of teacher burnout outside the classroom than inside. There are lots of teachers out there that are passionate about their profession, but not their workplace and this also has similar effects. The best way, as we’ve seen throughout this article is by making your teachers open up about the challenges they face. That way, you can help them find solutions for their problems as soon as you can.

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