Teacher burnout: the difficulties of the school environment

Among the working conditions that determine a risk factor for the teacher exhaustion the classes of “chicken coops” and the lack of adequate spaces to carry out the teaching activity are included both from the didactic point of view (lack of equipment) and from the logistical point of view (confined or crumbled spaces) .

The alarm clock had already become a nightmare. It was as if every morning I was getting ready to do a job for which I had less and less energy, less resources, less interest.

I did the classes ‘mechanically’, the goal was to finish the morning at school and this prevented any kind of peaceful relationship with my students, with classmates but also at home with my family. I was a “very tired” teacher.

“Work-related stress” syndrome.

Announcements The term exhaustion defines a work stress syndrome that places the subject in a condition of psychophysical exhaustion, which involves various aspects of the individual’s life: personal, work, and relational.

Initially, this syndrome was linked exclusively to the socio-health professions, while today it involves all those professions based on interpersonal relationships, and therefore also those belonging to the educational field.

Characteristics of burnout

The syndrome generally affects several aspects of an individual’s functioning: cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and physical.

The result of these alterations determines in the individual a professional overinvestment in spite of its own resources that can generate difficulties of concentration, alterations of the sleep and experiences of anxiety and depression.

These difficulties tend to induce a gradual emotional detachment in the subject to a feeling of true relational “inattention”, both personally and professionally.

At the behavioral level, these alterations can be translated into: absenteeism, decreased productivity in qualitative and quantitative terms, request for transfer or abandonment of the job.

There is also the use of caffeine, tobacco, alcohol and drugs, which poses a risk of addiction.

Last but not least, physical symptoms find a psychosomatic expression of suffering causing intestinal disorders, sleep and migraines.

What to observe in the workplace

As it is an occupational stress syndrome, it is essential to take into account all those risk factors present in the work context, namely:

  • working conditions
  • context organization
  • school policies.

The working conditions that determine a risk factor include the classes of “chicken coop” and the lack of adequate spaces to develop the teaching activity both from the didactic point of view (lack of equipment) and logistical (confined or ruined spaces ).

Organizational aspects include: the number of working hours, the frequency of meetings, the excess of bureaucracy and the lack of really significant training courses.

Finally, we look at “school policies” that include both limited career opportunities and unsatisfactory wages, often secondary to a climate of prolonged precariousness.

Prevention and intervention in the workplace and in the person

With Legislative Decree 81/2008, on the protection of safety and health at work, the employer is obliged to assess all the risks that may compromise both the health and safety of the worker, including work stress.

The aim is to slow down the transition from the risk of work stress to the onset of burnout syndrome.

In this sense, three guidelines have been highlighted through the European agreement (article 6) which provide for interventions in the field of:

  • management and communication
  • formation
  • information and consultation

Announcements In the field of management and communication, it is essential to make explicit the objectives of teaching, guaranteeing listening and support. These last two aspects must be understood as the empowerment of the teacher as a resource not only professional but also human and as a stimulus to the manifestation of any discomfort related to the exercise of the profession itself.

In the field of training, it is useful to increase the teacher’s awareness of the state of stress they live by helping not only to understand the causes, but also offering them the possibility, with qualified staff, to acquire useful strategies. to cope. with him effectively.

In the field of information and consultation, it is useful to provide up-to-date information both in terms of the school context in which it operates in terms of resources, potential but also critical issues, as well as actively involving the teaching staff in the process of decision making and management of the school world.

Psychological well-being in school: self-efficacy and self-esteem

There are a number of personal resources that allow, in school, psychological intervention, prevention and the promotion of well-being. These interventions aim to strengthen psychological resources aimed at reducing the impact of work stress and, therefore, to limit the risk of suffering. exhaustion.

Specifically, we are talking about self-efficacy and self-esteem, which together guarantee good adaptability to the work context.

Self-efficacy, or self-efficacy, refers to the teacher’s perception of his or her educational competence. Since this function is aimed at students, it will determine: the teacher’s behavior towards students, understood as the ability to involve them in the educational process, class management, understood as the teacher’s ability to guide students to set goals, and finally educational strategies.

Today’s school should consider the extent to which the school has become complex in terms of organization and difficult because of the actual resources available. Thinking of a school that ignores the dimension of teachers ’psychological well-being means exposing them to the risk of burnout syndrome and indirectly a difficult didactic and relational growth of the students.

Recommended by publishers


  • S. De Stasio; C. Fiorilli; G. Clarified; L. Uusitalo-Malmivaara. (2015). Predictive factors for the depletion of primary and secondary school support teachers.
  • Inail Research Sector (2012). Department of Occupational Medicine. Bornout and teaching.
  • Psychometry of the joints (2020). Burnout: symptoms and intervention.
  • A. Hooks (2015). Burnout and teaching: how to combat teacher stress. Mood the journal of psychological sciences.
State of Mind © 2011-2022 All rights reserved.

Images (from top to bottom) of:

Leave a Comment