- School leaders and instructional coaches need to be aware that teachers often make assumptions about themselves and their students that can cause frustration and lead to teacher burnout, Johanna Rauhala writes for Edutopia.
- Three main assumptions often cloud teacher judgment: that they should know or remember everything, that students should already have a certain depth of knowledge and that they should already be better than they are.
- In order to prevent teacher burnout, school leaders and coaches should encourage teachers to take time to reflect on their teaching practices, ask questions that shift the focus from themselves to the needs of the students, practice self-compassion, and be willing to enlist help from others.
Teachers are often their own toughest critics. The teaching profession requires a constant willingness to change and adapt to new students, new classrooms and new teaching requirements. Teachers, more than most other professions, are constantly being judged on their effectiveness, not only by state and local education authorities, but also by school leaders, parents and students.
It is easy, therefore, for teachers to be constantly judging themselves and living under false assumptions for themselves and their students. To some degree, such pressure is good in that it can motivate teachers to seek professional development in order to hone their craft. However, administrators need to be aware of the danger too much pressure has in causing good teachers to burn out and leave the profession.
Administrators can help in this area by creating a safe space for teachers to feel free to air concerns, ask questions, seek help and admit mistakes in their teaching practice without fear of reprimand or damage to their record. This can be accomplished through the use of mentors, instructional coaches, or regular teacher collaboration sessions. Teachers should be encouraged to learn from their mistakes just as they should encourage students to do the same. They should also be taught to exercise self-compassion as well as to use compassion toward students. They can also be taught to replace false assumptions with more positive ones that have a better effect on the classroom environment.