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New Teacher Burnout: 5 ways to stop it!

Stop new teacher burnout by making time for spontenaity

New teacher burnout is something talked about in whispers but it’s a real increasing problem. When teachers start teaching, many feel like they have to “sink or swim”. One of the biggest reasons for this new teacher burnout and leaving is that they didn’t feel they were getting the support they needed. 

In addition to mentoring programs, participating in communities of teachers who are ready and willing to help can be a real lifesaver. Especially where many teachers feel like they are starting to “sink”.

I know of six teachers that have quit teaching in five years or less. There are a lot of factors that contribute to this, i.e. pay, autonomy, and potential growth, to name a few. Getting Teacher Accreditation and teacher permanency is another.  

Let's look at a typical staffroom scenario

A buzz of chatter filled the air of the teacher’s staffroom as Charlotte and her colleagues heated up and ate their lunch, enjoying their limited free time before they had to go back to class. Though there was a gripping conversation about new teacher burnout going on at the table, Charlotte was focused on something else entirely; well, more like someone else.

A new face appeared in the staffroom—a blonde woman with a pair of glasses sitting nicely on the bridge of her nose. The woman sat reading a book silently and ate her meal. Despite the packed staffroom, full of chattering teachers, she sat alone. Nobody made any moves to talk to her. 

The blonde lady glanced around the room, anxiously gliding her eyes to everyone in the room before landing on Charlotte, who gently smiled at her. The woman, gratefully, returned the grin. But before Charlotte could ask her to accompany her and her work friends, their lunch break had been over.

Charlotte recalled meeting her in passing at the very first staff meeting, where the principal introduced her. If she remembered correctly, her name was Sophia Green and was in the math department like herself. 

Sophia was a fresh, bright face. It was obvious that this had been her first few days at a new school. Since the beginning of the school year, Sophia had lost her bright glow. Instead, she seemed gloomy, tired, and distressed. 

A pang of sympathy filled Charlotte’s heart as she reminisced on her first days of teaching – it had been difficult and demoralising as she had to learn how to navigate everything on her own. 

Now, if she could offer some help or guidance to anyone in that position, she would. 

relax and prevent new teacher burnout

New teacher burnout is a growing issue

In Australia, at least 50% of people with a teaching degree are leaving education. About 40 to 50 per cent of Australia’s newest teachers leave education within their first five years. In the United States, more than half a million teachers (over 15%) leave their career during the school year. While America may lead the world in teacher attrition, teachers everywhere struggle with staying motivated.

Associate Professor Philip Riley from the Australian Catholic University predicts that the teaching workforce will drastically reduce, and Australia will suffer teacher shortages. Student size will increase by 26 per cent by 2022 but will we have the teachers for them? It is likely to result in larger and larger class sizes. Experienced teachers are leaving the profession and the less experienced are being called on to do more.

There are small things we can do as teachers to prevent new teacher burnout and help all of us stay inspired and motivated. Enough to help new teachers pass that five-year mark. What are they? 

Be Spontaneous and welcoming to new teachers

1 - Make time for spontaneity

New teachers report that one of the most challenging parts of transitioning into their new career is meeting all of the demands. From lesson planning and classroom management to meetings and paperwork, new teachers have a lot on their plate. 

To help new teachers manage, experienced teachers must step in. Just taking five minutes to demonstrate a strategy that makes the load feel a bit lighter is always helpful. Besides, helping guide new teachers through the day to day responsibilities, it alleviates stress. 

Allowing for questions and open dialogue can also make new teachers feel like they are not alone. Instead, they think they have a supportive team at their aid.

As experienced teachers, most of us probably feel like we have plenty of friends at work. We might not view our circles at work as “cliques”, but new teachers can perceive these friendships as such. 

By being spontaneous, and merely extending invitations to lunches or prep period planning, we can prevent new teacher burnout. We can help new teachers get plugged into the school and have a more enjoyable experience day-to-day.

2 - Share classroom organisation tips

Help new teachers organise and arrange their classroom. Not everyone realises just how much benefit there is to be gained from classroom organisation. After all, you’re just talking about cleaning the classroom and maybe putting up some kind of shelf in the corner, right?

Actually, we all know there’s much more to classroom organisation than just cleaning a classroom, though that’s part of it.

We know our classroom environment dictates our moods and even the mental states of both our students and us. So, let’s share what works for us and maybe that will spark ideas for what will work for new teachers. 

3 - Get new teachers involved

New teachers need to become integrated into their new school environment and feel welcomed. Otherwise new teacher burnout will surely follow.   

Be a teacher mentor and stop new teacher burnout. The more we encourage new teacher involvement, the less likely they are tempted to quit (or move to a different school). It can be anything, from after-school committees to extracurricular clubs and organisations.

It might seem counterintuitive to ask new teachers to do more, but it’s the best way to prevent new teacher burnout. Getting them involved with students so that they can create relationships is a great way to help them feel like they belong. It reminds all of us new and old why we wanted to teach in the first place.

Teacher Registration

4 - Make the registration process easier

Teacher Registration we all have to undergo. Graduate Teachers always find it challenging to undergo the procedures for Teachers Accreditation in Australia.

So, Matt’s book “Overcoming Accreditation Disasters” is specifically written to try to repudiate the conclusion drawn by “a study conducted in . . . Teacher Resilience, 2010, which states that between 25% – 40% of Teachers are likely to leave the profession in the next five years”. 

Matt uses straightforward language to help new teachers evidence good professional practice “through real-life teachings, stories, innovative teaching resources, assessment, new teacher support programs and mentoring”. The book is FREE and available on Matt’s website at imanewteacher.com for new teacher’s.

5 - Offer planning and grading advice

New teachers have a lot on their plate, is one of the chief complaints teachers have who are on the fence about quitting. We might feel like it’s enough to listen to the problems new teachers at our schools are having. Rather than adding to their complaint list, we should offer practical advice to help stop new teacher burnout. 

Gently and quietly sharing how we manage planning and grading without getting burnt out. A study showed that “92 per cent of teachers assigned a mentor their first year returned the next year. Plus, 86 per cent were on the job by the fifth year.”

Let’s look back at how Charlotte in our scenario does this. The next day during their lunch break, Charlotte waved at Sophia, as the two women beamed at each other. She motioned to Sophia to sit with her and have lunch, to which Sophia happily did so. Once Sophia took her seat, Charlotte introduced herself and explained that they would be working closely together since they were in the same section of academia. 

“Nice to officially meet you,” Charlotte said. “How have you been liking it here?” 

“It’s been a whirlwind,” Sophia said. “Lesson planning and paperwork are in a league of their own, honestly.” 

“I understand that.” 

Charlotte went into detail about her tricks for coping with planning and paperwork that she had learned over the years that eased her stress. 

Sophia took in all of the information that Charlotte could offer. Relief washed over Sophia’s face as Charlotte provided a support system that she hadn’t otherwise had. Unknowingly, Charlotte had made Sophia’s transition easier with a few simple steps that she had taken. 

Halt the flow of new teacher burnout

As experienced teachers, you understand what helps teachers feel supported – and which parts of the profession are frustrating. “New teachers need support once they’re in schools,” Professor Robyn Ewing from the University of Sydney, who also researches teacher attrition, says. “A well mentored new teacher is three times likely to stay in the game”

Professional Teaching Standards, with its extensive administration, takes up a lot of time. Which means that teachers spend most of their time, when not teaching, documenting for teacher accreditation, leaving no time to support colleagues.

Keep your eyes open for those opportunities to befriend and invite a new teacher to lunch or another social gathering. Step up to be a mentor and not wait to be asked. 

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