Author Topic: Teacher burnout  (Read 1470 times)

takemewest

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Teacher burnout
« on: August 15, 2019, 10:18:08 AM »
To make a long story short, my family and I have had a lot of transitions in the last year (changing jobs, rethinking budgets and life goals, whether to have kids, etc.).  Also recently, a parent was diagnosed with a terminal (though unpredictable illness, ALS) and relocated back to my city to be close to myself and a sibling. The parent is still living on their own (barely) and will soon need more interventions and daily help. I don't have a good relationship with this parent, so this has been especially paralyzing to have them back in my world.

I'm an educator (left a TT position at a local university because of some personal politics and actual blackmail/ethics stuff, switched to secondary ed last year). Been in education 14 years at this point, and I'm wondering if I'm truly burned out to the point of no return, or if there's something I can do to bring the joy back to the job. Last year, the first in my new gig, was wonderful--I was so excited by the idea that my administration wasn't unethical (so much as I know) and wasn't driving a personal agenda against my work that I enjoyed almost every moment of it, and I mostly enjoy working with teens.

But this year, coming back to school has felt nothing but draining. It's only week 1, and I already feel like I'm working too much for next to no pay ($44k, which for the record, is about what I made at the local university). I'm not sure if it's a function of a draining summer (moving the ill parent, working extra to make money and pay cash for some house needs, etc.), or if this is the result of 14 years in education. I take home a lot of work (though not as much as many teachers) because I run a career tech ed program in media that requires the normal teacher load plus a ton of other stuff.

So, I guess I'm asking for ideas on how to combat teacher burnout, or whether other educators here reached a point of no return? I feel like with my degrees, professional and educational experience that I'd have a lot to offer outside education, and I guess I'm wondering if now, at 35 years old, I should start to look more seriously to find a job with better work-life balance and higher pay?

(Short btw here: don't have FU money but are solidly on track for retirement, no debt except mortgage and we are able to max out our IRAs plus contribute to pension education accounts. Spouse is also an educator).

I'll take any and kind/compassionate suggestions here on what I could do to survive this year and also how I can start to think about whether this burnout is a temporary result of the stress of the last year, or whether it might signal something more permanent? I'm looking for a good therapist now, too, so hopefully that will help.

leonblack

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Re: Teacher burnout
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2019, 10:44:38 AM »
I've only been teaching 5 years but it can be quite draining. To combat this, I tried flipping my classes this past year; recording lessons on youtube and assigning that for homework. Using the classtime to reiterate what was discussed in the video and guide students on their own practice. This was easy to work on in the summer but more difficult as the year went on. I'm also not married and don't have kids which makes my time a bit easier to flex.
This instruction change to stretch my creativity, make the class time feel more personable, and helped me revitalize my interest in the profession.
Most videos can be filmed on an iphone for starters. You can always cherry pick videos that are already online if need be.
My principal paid for my certification. Website is here if you're interested. https://learn.flglobal.org/

I'm sorry that the summer wasn't as rejuvenating as you were hoping.

I'm currently trying to add on skills and move towards data science; learning Python in particular.

Try to grind out the year and then reevaluate over the summer/holiday.

Best of luck @takemewest



ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Teacher burnout
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2019, 10:52:13 AM »
My twin brother is a teacher. He's had a lot of stress due to a bunch of drama that could probably make for a good movie (and please believe me -- my brother is the most non-dramatic person you've ever met).  It's draining to him.

What keeps him going is extracurriculars.  He coaches football, wrestling, and track.  He makes a good buck doing this and, more importantly, it really improves his relationship with students and the coaches (who are usually also teachers).

Granted, my brother is single and does not have children, and both our parents are healthy; so I'm not sure how this may relate to you. But have you thought about clubs you could lead? Sports you can coach?

These are the highlights to my brother's career, not the backburner.

takemewest

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Re: Teacher burnout
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2019, 02:45:52 PM »
Thanks @leonblack and @ReadySetMillionaire. I like the idea of the flipped classroom, and do a decent amount of that but maybe not enough. One thing I think could help is learning something new myself so it doesn't feel like I'm always giving and draining my own reserves. I should look into some local classes--there are some Adobe CC products I'm not totally fluent in, and that could be a great tool to feel inspired.

Part of my burnout, I think is that the classes I teach also count as extra/co-curricular. So, I have my normal class day, plus the state requirements for keeping my program and classes career tech, plus the fact that doing these classes requires accompanying students to some events after school and on weekends. Add that to teaching a couple normal core classes that are grading heavy (English, not my background or specialty but just a reality with our teacher shortage), and I feel pulled in 100 directions. I do think that next year I'll be back to all of my career-tech classes with no English, so that could be a welcome relief and would help me focus my energy and be efficient with sharing ideas/resources/planning across my classes.

BrendanP

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Re: Teacher burnout
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2019, 03:18:13 PM »
I don't know where you are located but 44K seems very low. Are you at least getting overtime for doing any of this extra work? Here in NYC you get a salary raise for teaching experience in other states, etc.

Nederstash

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Re: Teacher burnout
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2019, 04:16:10 PM »
Thanks @leonblack and @ReadySetMillionaire. I like the idea of the flipped classroom, and do a decent amount of that but maybe not enough. One thing I think could help is learning something new myself so it doesn't feel like I'm always giving and draining my own reserves. I should look into some local classes--there are some Adobe CC products I'm not totally fluent in, and that could be a great tool to feel inspired.

Part of my burnout, I think is that the classes I teach also count as extra/co-curricular. So, I have my normal class day, plus the state requirements for keeping my program and classes career tech, plus the fact that doing these classes requires accompanying students to some events after school and on weekends. Add that to teaching a couple normal core classes that are grading heavy (English, not my background or specialty but just a reality with our teacher shortage), and I feel pulled in 100 directions. I do think that next year I'll be back to all of my career-tech classes with no English, so that could be a welcome relief and would help me focus my energy and be efficient with sharing ideas/resources/planning across my classes.

Taking on extra 'hobbies', side projects, whatever, is not a good idea if you're burned out. Bored, depressed, understimulated: yes, take on something new. But burn out means you are already running on your reserves. This is the equivalent of buying a new car when you're barely paycheck-to-paycheck... you got nothing in the bank!! SAVE SAVE SAVE. This is the mental equivalent of hair-on-fire emergency.
 
Unfortunately, from my own experience: if you ignore the signals and keep pushing harder, recovery will be exponentially longer. Think MONTHS. So, cut back asap. Get in touch with family, make a plan of what is acceptable for each of you to do. Let this parent outsource what they can outsource. Just because you are willing to put in some work in caring for this person, does not mean you need to do a lot. You have your own family to provide for - and you need to take care of yourself. Put your own oxygen mask on before helping others. Don't let them guilt you into taking on any daily care - your body and mind will come to a screeching halt sooner or later. What is acceptable to you, taking into account that you need to take a step back, rest up, do a job and take care of your spouse/kids/pets?
 
You can also talk to your boss. They should be willing to lighten your load at work, in order to prevent a full mental breakdown that could set you back months. Explicitly warn them that your health is declining and you NEED a bit less. Even if they don't give a shit about you personally, they should at least make a business-minded decision that keeps you at least a bit functional, instead of flat out sick. I got a lot of pushback from my manager, who basically said I should work harder and guilted me into working more. Because I didn't want to rock the boat, because I was scared, because I felt like a failure who was now daring to ask someone else to take the burden. Told myself I only needed to keep up the grind for half a year more. Yeah, that worked for like 3 months (on top of 8 years hard grind). And then I snapped. Now I've been home sick for 4 months, completely incapable of work. I can't read a book for more than 5 minutes, I can't do a crossword, my brain is mush. Grocery shopping takes 4x as long, because I can't focus for shit when there are too many stimuli around me. I can hardly bear sunlight or sound. Hell I've been at this reply for a solid 30 minutes now.

Burn out fucking SUCKS. This is your sign to step away from the ledge before you fall off.

CrustyBadger

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Re: Teacher burnout
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2019, 05:40:31 PM »

Part of my burnout, I think is that the classes I teach also count as extra/co-curricular. So, I have my normal class day, plus the state requirements for keeping my program and classes career tech, plus the fact that doing these classes requires accompanying students to some events after school and on weekends. Add that to teaching a couple normal core classes that are grading heavy (English, not my background or specialty but just a reality with our teacher shortage), and I feel pulled in 100 directions.

That's an insane workload for a second year teacher!  Yeah, I know you have 14 years in education, but teaching at the high school level is very different from teaching at the college level.  I warn new teachers that the first 3 years are extremely hard and time consuming.  (The next 2 aren't any picnic either.) . Around 5-7 years in, things start to get more manageable for many teachers as you learn what needs to be done and what can slide.

Teachers where I live aren't even allowed to teach out of assignment.  To teach high school English you need to be a certified English teacher.  Do all the teachers at your school have to teach classes that include extra hours after school is over?  Did you volunteer for this assignment or do you think you got assigned the harder workload because you are the newest teacher?

Absolutely it makes sense that you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed with having English classes (with their extra time grading required); career tech classes (requiring working nights and weekends) as well as your regular classes, and having an ill mother with an incredibly demanding disease.  To survive, you may need to scale way back in how much you are willing to put in to the job.  I.E. what is the bare minimum you have to do to stay employed? 

There are strategies to help English teachers grade writing assignments and give meaningful feedback with a minimum amount of time.  Here's just one example:  https://teach4theheart.com/simple-way-grade-writing-quickly/

There's an online group called "The Forty Hour Work Week" for teachers.  https://40htw.com/join  It isn't free, and this year's cohort has already started, but the woman who runs it I believe has also written some books on the subject of teacher efficiency if you want to check that out.  Her book The Cornerstone is full of ideas for being more efficient as a teacher, wasting less time, and avoiding burnout.
https://thecornerstoneforteachers.com/product/the-cornerstone



lhamo

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Re: Teacher burnout
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2019, 06:36:12 PM »
How is your relationship with your sibling, and how is their relationship with the ill parent? If they have a higher tolerance level, see if you can take responsibility for the more hands off tasks. Also, communicate early and often about what you can and cannot offer practically, emotionally and financially. Caring for an ailing parent I'd draining under the best of circumstances. I would not try to change careers now. Be gentle with yourself and your sibling during this challenging time.

englishteacheralex

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Re: Teacher burnout
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2019, 07:03:23 PM »

Part of my burnout, I think is that the classes I teach also count as extra/co-curricular. So, I have my normal class day, plus the state requirements for keeping my program and classes career tech, plus the fact that doing these classes requires accompanying students to some events after school and on weekends. Add that to teaching a couple normal core classes that are grading heavy (English, not my background or specialty but just a reality with our teacher shortage), and I feel pulled in 100 directions.

That's an insane workload for a second year teacher!  Yeah, I know you have 14 years in education, but teaching at the high school level is very different from teaching at the college level.  I warn new teachers that the first 3 years are extremely hard and time consuming.  (The next 2 aren't any picnic either.) . Around 5-7 years in, things start to get more manageable for many teachers as you learn what needs to be done and what can slide.

Teachers where I live aren't even allowed to teach out of assignment.  To teach high school English you need to be a certified English teacher.  Do all the teachers at your school have to teach classes that include extra hours after school is over?  Did you volunteer for this assignment or do you think you got assigned the harder workload because you are the newest teacher?

Absolutely it makes sense that you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed with having English classes (with their extra time grading required); career tech classes (requiring working nights and weekends) as well as your regular classes, and having an ill mother with an incredibly demanding disease.  To survive, you may need to scale way back in how much you are willing to put in to the job.  I.E. what is the bare minimum you have to do to stay employed? 

There are strategies to help English teachers grade writing assignments and give meaningful feedback with a minimum amount of time.  Here's just one example:  https://teach4theheart.com/simple-way-grade-writing-quickly/

There's an online group called "The Forty Hour Work Week" for teachers.  https://40htw.com/join  It isn't free, and this year's cohort has already started, but the woman who runs it I believe has also written some books on the subject of teacher efficiency if you want to check that out.  Her book The Cornerstone is full of ideas for being more efficient as a teacher, wasting less time, and avoiding burnout.
https://thecornerstoneforteachers.com/product/the-cornerstone

Whoa. I've been teaching English at the middle school and high school levels for 17 years and I just clicked on those links. What a pleasant surprise to realize that I do pretty much all of the tips listed on the links--instinctively those are the things I learned to do in order to facilitate procedures and grading.

I have two toddlers at home and life is pretty grueling even though I've now affirmed to myself that I'm a very efficient teacher! The job itself is about as wonderful of a teaching job as a person could ask for, but it's still a full time job with two little kids at home. I can't imagine being a part-time care giver in the first five years of my teaching career. I worked round the clock back then.

Thanks CrustyBadger! I'm feeling so good about myself now as I sit down to grade a stack of essays!

Bartleby_the_Scrivener

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Re: Teacher burnout
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2019, 08:49:30 PM »
I have yet to meet a former teacher who is not happier with his or her second career (myself included). That may or may not mean anything to you, but I'd be glad to discuss more via PM if you want details.

takemewest

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Re: Teacher burnout
« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2019, 09:33:44 PM »
I do have an English certification (thanks to that old college double major and being a book worm, so while I was hired for the career tech media classes, I was aware I may have to do English on top of that for a couple years until the numbers in the career tech program even out (long story, but they were quite low after the last educator missed the boat on a lot of preparedness, real-word issues). So, that's where I'm at. I teach 6 of 8 class periods a day, and 4 separate preps among those 6 periods. It feels insane.

@CrustyBadger Thanks for those links--I will absolutely look into them. I already am a check list type grader, but I'm always up for making myself more efficient. I think (or rather, I know, and you've all confirmed) that the burnout just makes it so much harder to get things done. It's like trying to run through mud.  I do love being an educator, and I believe that secondary ed is a good fit for me compared to higher ed (I was an average research but I'm an excellent teacher). But I can't imagine this feeling and balance going on for a few years, though I trust your experience that it doesn't get better for a while.

@lhamo My sibling wants to help but is fairly unreliable, flaky, and in a minimum wage job with no ability to take time off hardly ever because they are also paying for parole and treatment after some illegal crap. So it feels pretty much all on my shoulders. Spouse and I have forked over a decent amount of money already to outsource things for my parent, and we will continue to do that since we know it's helping our sanity. The flip side is it frustrates me even more because with our low salaries, that's a bit of a hit, and it makes me begrudge my work life balance even more.

Thank you for the real talk and sharing your personal experience, @Nederstash . I honestly am afraid of things getting worse. I've never had anxiety attacks or panic attacks, and in the last 6 months I've had two major ones and this general weight on my chest with I think about everything on my plate and try to balance it all. I will try to talk to my admin and see what they think is the bare minimum.

@BrendanP  My salary is indeed low--I get a small stipend ($2200) for the "extra-curricular" parts of my career tech program that take place outside school. Part of my burnout is I've always hustled the last 8 years over the summers, even in higher ed. I taught online classes, in person workshops, directed study abroad programs, anything to increase my salary because we like where we live. But that combined with going into year two of secondary teaching has just imploded. It's way too hard to teach high school kids all year and then bust the pavement all summer. I've definitely thought about moving elsewhere, but the state of education as a whole is pretty crappy.

@Bartleby_the_Scrivener I feel like I've seem some allusions to this in some of your posts. I would love to talk a bit more about your experience and those you know. In my circle of hard-core educators friends, no one leaves, and in fact, they are all about convincing others to be a teacher (there's a lot of teacher-martyr going on). I think the fact that I wouldn't recommend this career probably says a lot....

Zamboni

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Re: Teacher burnout
« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2019, 01:05:27 AM »
Thank you for taking your burnout seriously.

It seems like your conversation with your head administrator needs to involve your stress, health concerns for yourself and your parents, overtime load, and a simple and direct statement of "my current path is unsustainable. What can you do to help me with this so that, long term, I can keep working here?" You probably need to keep repeating that until they get the message. What is your administration doing to help you manage this?

My own application for a semester of paid leave was denied until I somehow made it clear that they were facing me taking "permanent leave." You can even phrase it that way . . . "I need a lighter teaching load, with no new preps next term, and fewer different preps . . . otherwise I am worried that i will have to go on permanent leave from XXX school, which I don't want to do, but I have to take self-care seriously. What can you do to help me?" You need to put it that directly on the school administration, because it is their responsibility to help you. That approach caused a reversal of the decision. In my case, I also pretty much took the following summer off . . . so it was nearly 8 months of focusing primarily on family care and self care. Financially it wasn't a great decision for me in the short term, but l don't regret doing it.

Probably best that you are making peace with your sibling's inability to be a fully functional participant in managing anything regarding your parent. I'm glad you are outsourcing as much of the help for as you can, but you also can't bankrupt yourself (mentally or financially). ALS is a truly terrible disease (first hand experience: my grandmother died of it).

There are very real limits on what you can do to help, both because of resources like time/money AND because you are not trained to help someone with ALS. That second part is really, really important. This is beyond what you can do, period. Social services needs to be absolutely maximized in this case. If your parent is resistant to social services and thinks s/he is going to rely on you instead of social services for any matters, then they are seriously misguided . . . because this is more than you can do even if they were not difficult for you to interact with.

What options are there for you to take a full semester of FMLA leave to get the maximum social safety net in place for your parent? Can you do something like that with assurances that you can return to your current position? How much of it can it be paid? What paperwork is required?

You might think you need to wait on it, but I think you need to do it now or at least by the spring in order to have time to be sure that all social safety mechanisms for your parent are in place. Once they are, there is really not anything more you can do. It really is a terrible thing to face, and I'm very sorry this is happening to your family. It sucks.

I hope some of these ideas are helpful for a long term game plan. For now, focus on just getting through it. Seriously. Get through each day while making a tiny bit of progress towards the long term plan of what needs to happen: 1) lightened work load / fewer preps / less overtime work to prevent total burnout, 2) social services automation for parent with the expectation that the future will only allow you to check in periodically, not actually take care of their care/health/maintenance/transportation at all.

Good luck!

Freedomin5

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Re: Teacher burnout
« Reply #12 on: August 16, 2019, 04:45:45 AM »
Man, so glad we fell into the expat teaching world by chance. Pay is great (after tax salary of $50-100k depending on experience and education and the quality of the international school), kids get free education at a good international school (IB programme, AP classes), free housing, free healthcare, free flights. The first year is tough, but once you have your lessons set, tweaking them during the following years is much more manageable. As long as you’re a flexible person who is able to go with the flow, or you’re willing to become a flexible person...

If you’re not tied to your current city, you could potentially explore this option.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2019, 06:53:51 AM by Freedomin5 »

takemewest

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Re: Teacher burnout
« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2019, 05:17:58 PM »
Thank you for taking your burnout seriously.

It seems like your conversation with your head administrator needs to involve your stress, health concerns for yourself and your parents, overtime load, and a simple and direct statement of "my current path is unsustainable. What can you do to help me with this so that, long term, I can keep working here?" You probably need to keep repeating that until they get the message. What is your administration doing to help you manage this?

...
I hope some of these ideas are helpful for a long term game plan. For now, focus on just getting through it. Seriously. Get through each day while making a tiny bit of progress towards the long term plan of what needs to happen: 1) lightened work load / fewer preps / less overtime work to prevent total burnout, 2) social services automation for parent with the expectation that the future will only allow you to check in periodically, not actually take care of their care/health/maintenance/transportation at all.

Good luck!

@Zamboni  I 've been trying to focus on this, getting through the day but simultaneously lightening the load. Sometimes it feels more stressful because I know I'm cutting corners, and the anxiety of not being "fully prepared" every day can be rough (but I suppose what teacher is fully prepared 100% of the time)? I opened the door a little bit with my supervisor, and she encouraged me to keep it simple with my new class this year, so that's promising. But the program I run as a career-tech option requires certain enrollment numbers for funding, so she did mention that  taking extended time off could come back to bite me (I could take the time off, but there's not a qualified sub to run it while I'm gone, and if students drop out of the program, it'd be in jeopardy). That made me really nervous. We also talked about the reality of my preps, and she said there's a good chance they wouldn't be fewer than 4 a year for a while, until they could justify hiring on another teacher in this area (I'm the only one right now).

So, that was depressing.

takemewest

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Re: Teacher burnout
« Reply #14 on: August 20, 2019, 05:19:28 PM »
Man, so glad we fell into the expat teaching world by chance. Pay is great (after tax salary of $50-100k depending on experience and education and the quality of the international school), kids get free education at a good international school (IB programme, AP classes), free housing, free healthcare, free flights. The first year is tough, but once you have your lessons set, tweaking them during the following years is much more manageable. As long as you’re a flexible person who is able to go with the flow, or you’re willing to become a flexible person...

If you’re not tied to your current city, you could potentially explore this option.

@Freedomin5 I don't feel overly tied to our city, but I do now feel guilt at the idea of being anywhere else now that my ill parent has relocated here and my sibling will be of little help. Did you go through a headhunting or international school company to find your expat gigs?

CrustyBadger

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Re: Teacher burnout
« Reply #15 on: August 20, 2019, 06:24:14 PM »
Who is going to be providing the care for the parent with ALS?   Have you been hooked up with the ALS association and an ALS clinic in your area?

I am concerned about your work situation and your family situation.  Having someone with ALS in need of daily care is very stressful and can take up a lot of someone's time.  Unfortunately, the care is typically not covered by Medicare or health insurance although there can be some exceptions. As a result, usually family members end up caring for the patient until their needs become so overwhelming that 24 hour care can only be provided in a nursing home, and not all nursing homes are set up to take care of ALS patients.   Medicaid will pay for this nursing home care after pretty much all assets have been spent down.

I am concerned for your job because it sounds like if you take time off to deal with your parent's situation (and there will always be things you need to do -- take them to the doctor, stay at home to interview home health aides, etc) you are going to be in danger of not HAVING a job next year if fewer students sign up.  You might be looking for a new job next year.   

Given that, it might make sense to start looking for a new job THIS year.  As in, right now.  If you have any ability to go back to the old type of job you used to work at in a college setting, one that didn't require you to create a new program and build it up, that might make sense in your current situation.

CrustyBadger

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Re: Teacher burnout
« Reply #16 on: August 20, 2019, 06:29:17 PM »
I feel like with my degrees, professional and educational experience that I'd have a lot to offer outside education, and I guess I'm wondering if now, at 35 years old, I should start to look more seriously to find a job with better work-life balance and higher pay?

I see you actually asked this question.  I think, "yes".  This is nothing to do with burnout.  You are very clearly going to need to take some time off in the near future to deal with your parent (unless someone else steps up?) and for the money you are currently earning, you should at least be able to take some time off without pay to do so.

But your job currently is more like a start-up where you really can't take any time off.  That's not a bad job, but it isn't meeting your needs right now. You might not need more money right now but you need more ability to take time off without huge repercussions.

arebelspy

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Re: Teacher burnout
« Reply #17 on: August 20, 2019, 08:35:39 PM »
The answer to burnout is recuperation, and, going forward, more "life" in the work/life balance.

If that's not something that teaching can afford you based on the hours/efforts required (and there can always be more, but the question is, can there be less and you still be effective, highly rated, and doing good for your students), then it's time to look for something else.
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expatartist

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Re: Teacher burnout
« Reply #18 on: August 20, 2019, 08:54:22 PM »
OP not sure where you're located but there are a handful of fairs across the US which are probably the best way to go if you can. Search Associates runs some of the reputable ones.

Join International Schools Review site and search the forums for intro information. A year's membership might be a good idea to get a feel for how the systems work and their pitfalls. Since you've been teaching in the US system you may want to look for an American school overseas, but international baccalaureate schools will have more jobs. If you've a relevant MA or PhD, university teaching overseas may be an option too. Lots of other stressors will come your way if living overseas but I've been very happy doing it in Asia - like freedom in 5's family I landed in the system by accident. It's a great experience for a small family.

However it sounds like you need to be present for this parent and perhaps should focus on what you can do either online or in the community you're in now. Online tutoring is also an option.

Freedomin5

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Re: Teacher burnout
« Reply #19 on: August 21, 2019, 03:07:08 AM »
Man, so glad we fell into the expat teaching world by chance. Pay is great (after tax salary of $50-100k depending on experience and education and the quality of the international school), kids get free education at a good international school (IB programme, AP classes), free housing, free healthcare, free flights. The first year is tough, but once you have your lessons set, tweaking them during the following years is much more manageable. As long as you’re a flexible person who is able to go with the flow, or you’re willing to become a flexible person...

If you’re not tied to your current city, you could potentially explore this option.

@Freedomin5 I don't feel overly tied to our city, but I do now feel guilt at the idea of being anywhere else now that my ill parent has relocated here and my sibling will be of little help. Did you go through a headhunting or international school company to find your expat gigs?

If your parent is ill, you may want to stay to care for them, unless you have a terrible relationship with your parents...which is not unheard of here. We were already in Shanghai and got to know several of the schools through friends who were teachers here. When job openings became available, we applied. Many teachers go through international job fairs, though I can’t comment on those since I didn’t go that route. It’s also possible to just apply directly through the school’s website. Just search “best international schools” and the name of the city where you want to live, and see what pops up. The school website often lists salary ranges and expat benefits provided so that you can better decide whether or not you want to apply.