SC 190 The Specific Causes of Burnout in Educators 1


Dr. Drummond identifies five general categories of burnout’s causes:


  1. The profession itself
  2. Your specific job
  3. Poor leadership
  4. Life issues
  5. Conditioning: the unrealistic expectations our educations have placed on us


Education has its own specifics that it brings to these categories.


The profession itself:


  • Never-ending work and hours: the work of grading papers, doing research, and preparing lectures is never finished.  These tasks will take up as much time as you give them.  Educators find themselves continuing their work into evenings and weekends, never feeling caught-up or well enough prepared.
  • Not seeing enough specific results—wave after wave of starting at the beginning: While there are advantages to beginning each term with a new batch of students, educators fall into the trap of wondering why, after teaching the same information and skills for so long, these students just don’t “get it.”  Also, we see our students for limited periods and, unless we have the pleasure of observing our students over four years, we do not see the results of the educational seeds we plant.
  • Problem students: Those of our students who are needy, disruptive, or who have severe problems to work through take up a lot of our time.  Encounters with such students can take the energy out of a class, turning it into something to dread instead of something to be excited about.
  • Public stereotypes: Who of us have not experienced the dismissal of our work from other professionals?  They are convinced we don’t work hard, have long vacations, and coast because of tenure.  They do not understand the truth of our profession—that a job that is not nine to five means endless work.
  • Income: We don’t enter education to get rich.  Our income often necessitates taking on extra classes or outside work, perpetuating the cycle of burnout.


Your specific job:


  • Course loads and overloads: Many of our colleagues teach four courses per semester, are expected to serve on college or university committees, take assigned work of the departments, advise students, and are expected to publish.  There’s also pressure to take on overload courses in some departments where hiring has not kept up with enrollment growth.
  • Committees and boundaries: Although they meet relatively infrequently, committee work can also demand preparation and additional tasks to be completed outside meeting times.  Committee work, like grading, research, and course preparation, will often take as much time as you’re willing to give it.
  • Politics: While politics are a way of life on any job, they can seem particularly complicated in the world of academe.  Difficult politics in a department, or in one’s interaction with administration, can make for a chronically stressful work environment.
  • Poor relationships with specific colleagues: Like problem students, difficult colleagues can become the focus of our interactions.  And, of course, sometimes we can be the difficult colleague, causing problems for those around us.  Educators experiencing burnout are good candidates for being difficult colleagues.

We welcome your comments, feedback and guest post submissions.

Email:  General Information   |   Prof. David C. Pecoraro

Thank you!

Daniel & David


All Podcasts via This Website

Click this Link to Subscribe via iTunes

Click this Link to Listen on Stitcher Smart Radio

Click this Link to Subscribe via Google Play

Click this Link to Subscribe via RSS (non-iTunes feed)



SC 190 The Specific Causes of Burnout in Educators 1

The Caring Professor

The Caring Professor