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Lesson Plans

Re: More about Burnout

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
David Parsons (103137.1437)
10 Apr 96 21:04:52 EDT

I thought I might add a bit to the burnout conversation.

I changed school districts my third year of teaching, thinking that it would
refresh me. By then I was frustrated, very angry, and - well, burned out.
Instead of helping, the change added to my frustration, and I resigned for my
sanity. Had great ideas about starting my own business. Walked right into a
recession. Odd-jobbed for three years.

At the end of three years, my first teaching position re-opened, and, having
finally outdistanced the disturbing dreams of my final batch of students (not
quite nightmares but not much fun), I re-entered the teaching profession, same
room as before.

I promised myself I would do 5 to 10 and get out. I'm now in year 11 and have
no intention of quitting soon. In this region, teaching is - compared to other
professions - quite rewarding and quite stable. My wife now teaches in a
different district. We deal with teen agers during the summer as well - but in
an entirely different context, and we avoid any summer entanglements with our
own school districts.

I call my situation "beyond burnout." I believe burnout comes from lack of
empowerment, whether real or imagined. My wife will probably never reach the
burnout stage - she won't put up with anyone's nonsense.

A new teacher has only a vague idea what the formal rules state and no idea what
the "unwritten" rules and procedures are, and operates with the feeling that
EVERYONE - administrators, principals, other teachers, parents, students, and
strangers off the street - has more decision making authority than the new
teacher. This does not create a good feeling. You think the second year will
be better, and in many ways it is - but then you realize that you've only
scratched the surface of the bureaucratic monstrosity you've hired on with, and
the inconsistencies and inanities pile up.

Somewhere beyond the third year of teaching, something happens and everything
begins to click. People start listening to what you have to say. You begin to
figure out how to get your ideas funded, supported, and carried out. Students
come back and say hi. You slowly realize that you do have control of certain
situations, and that for the most part those things you cannot control are
either irrelevant or manageable through other processes.

Hey, this job is fun. You've just got to roll with the punches.

Dave Parsons