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Teachers’ leader reveals how ‘burnout’ drove her out of the classroom

Discussion in 'Education news' started by TES_Rosaline, Apr 11, 2018.

  1. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member

    ‘The president of the ATL section of the NEU teaching union has spoken about how workload "burnout" left her crying on the way to work and caused her to walk out of the classroom.

    Niamh Sweeney said the education system was in the midst of "the biggest recruitment and retention crisis" it had ever faced.

    Addressing ATL's last annual conference, Ms Sweeney said: "Four years ago, I walked out of the classroom, left students mid-way through their sixth form and felt horrifically guilty. I still do. I feared at the time that I was leaving forever. I was due to leave at the end of term for a job with the local authority, but two weeks before the Easter break my doctor signed me off with burnout. I was spent. I had a chest infection, had lost my voice and just couldn't put myself through it anymore.’


    What are your thoughts about Niamh Sweeney’s account of being pushed to breaking point? Do you feel that you are suffering or experiencing the same issues that Niamh went through? How widespread are the following issues: toxic working and learning environment, an environment stripped bare of funding and resources, an environment where staff were exhausted? Is your subject or school under-resourced and under-funded and what measures have been introduced to try to bridge the gap? What were your reasons for leaving the profession? Have you been tempted to return to the classroom? If yes/no, why? Have you been supported to return to teaching and if so, how were you supported?

    https://www.tes.com/news/school-new...rge-tears-she-tells-how-burnout-drove-her-out
     
  2. stonerose

    stonerose Occasional commenter

     
  3. Lalex123

    Lalex123 Occasional commenter

    I fantasise about leaving all the time. It would be fantastic to leave work at work instead of carrying it around with me 24/7 and worrying about not finishing everything in time for deadlines atop of deadlines. My life is dictated to by bells that ring like clockwork and my teacher personality has erased my real personality almost completely. I’m too tired to meet with friends in term time, and during half term I do all my life admin and write SOW so rarely get time to socialise.

    The sad thing is, I’ve wanted to be a teacher all my life and now can’t find a job that desires my performing arts skills. I’d have to take a huge pay cut and work in a mundane office.

    If teaching was what it was 10 years ago, I’d still love it, but endless new initiatives and additions to my workload, along with intense exam pressure and work scrutinise are slowly making the mundane, low paid office job look appealing.
     
    drek, woollani, Taboo71 and 1 other person like this.
  4. Taboo71

    Taboo71 New commenter

    I am making plans to leave teaching for good at the end of this summer. I will take a significant pay drop and be at the start of a new career when I begin it.

    During the Easter holidays I have made contact with my university to receive my degree transcript, made enquiries regarding future courses of the new profession I want to engage in and I have been in contact with the professional body that I now want to pursue.

    In addition, I have cried buckets of tears this Easter holidays in the shameful realisation, for me personally, that I feel exhausted and burnt out. I actually spoke and saw my sister for the first time since Christmas last week and she was so concerned she wants me to go to the Drs on Monday and be signed off sick. My hubby agrees with her. That I won't do.

    I have been feeling over worked, down, not wanting to eat, exhausted, intolerant at home, not being able to sleep, etc, which has had a negative impact on my home life. I frequently feel anxious and have panic attacks often. I feel very anxious and panicky now knowing that I'm back to school tomorrow.
    Why do I do this extra work? Because it is expected from the head and SLT 'to be a good teacher' and also no-one has voiced to the head that the demands are unreasonable, even though colleagues have voiced their concerns to me.

    Teaching is a job, regardless of 'how much you love it', but as my hubby pointed out weeks ago to me that teaching is a way of life and it was my choice to put the hours at home into my job. I had a melt down with him and tried to get him to see that all I had to do, had to be done. He could not see that that was reasonable, only to someone who was self employed would consider working crazy hours per day.

    I am leaving because I am disheartened to what is expected to be 'a good teacher', from my own experience in my school and to what I have witnessed progressively over the years in various schools. Maybe I'm unlucky in the schools that I have taught in but I do know my situation is not isolated, as many of my teaching friends are wanting to find a way out. Many have a B'Ed qualification and therefore do not know what they can do without taking a significant pay drop with their degree. However, myself and a couple of friends are using our degree to pursue a career that will complement our qualifications and also taking a significant pay drop.

    I haven't yet got to the stage of crying to work but have got to the 'sod it, it can wait' stage, which I know won't go down well next week due to me not completing courses online during the Easter holidays and having lots of resources laminated for interventions, class, etc.
     
    drek likes this.
  5. Eflmeister

    Eflmeister Occasional commenter

    Do what you need to do to ensure the students get the best lessons you can give them, but extra stuff don’t sweat it too much. You’re leaving teaching in a few weeks (relatively).
     
    Taboo71 likes this.
  6. Mrsmumbles

    Mrsmumbles Star commenter

    Or work abroad? Maybe design online lesson packages which flog your speciality to a wider audience? Thankfully, global education is not entirely about Pearson education and Michael Gove.
     
    drek and Lalex123 like this.
  7. BigFrankEM

    BigFrankEM Occasional commenter

    Perhaps if the rank & file (sic) members of the AMA&AMA/ AMMA/ ATL had not been so uniformly and remorselessly craven in their approach to teacher trade unionism over my professional career, life at the chalk face for the likes of Ms Sweeney might have been much much less stressful?
     
    drek likes this.
  8. drek

    drek Lead commenter

    agree. I keep hearing from colleagues about how much extra work they do in their leadership time off time-table. They keep get given or agree to take on too many tasks because it appears that school leadership really have no clue about how much time it takes to plan, resource and delegate any teacher related tasks at all. We would not be having the current workload crisis if teachers didn’t keep on telling each other to do more, more, more for less, less less...by setting themselves as great examples of model workers.
    They don’t have a clue about how much time different teachers spend on planning and marking for different types of groups.
    How much energy it takes to deal with groups that are EAL, SEND, pupil premium, and behaviour challenged all day everyday.
    Otherwise they wouldn’t say obnoxious fantasy land things like this extra piece of admin will only take 5 minutes to do.........and then tag on.....be grateful we have not used up all the directed time available.........ha ha ha what utter gibberish.
     
    Taboo71 likes this.

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