Gone are the days when teachers and students had to reach a physical classroom for learning. These days, students can study from anywhere and specifically from their comfort zones.

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich

It is mainly credited to internet access and a range of technologies like VR and AI that enhance learning and make it even more impactful. 

These developments genuinely make a difference in both learning and teaching experiences worldwide. Students and teachers now have a wide range of resources: e-books and videos to utilize during classes. Technologies like virtual reality make learning more immersive, by introducing learners to digital worlds where they traverse environments that are impossible to enter in the real world or costly to reach.

There is also a range of programs that students can pursue or that teachers can deliver remotely. The shift in the education sector, however, has a far-dimensional impact on teachers’ effectiveness and mental well-being.
There is a lot that teachers must handle on a daily basis and this commonly leaves them stressed out and when not, or poorly handled, leads to burnout. Studies indicate that more female teachers suffer from stress and burnout when compared to male counterparts. In the present times, female teachers show more burnout symptoms and the latest studies assert that many teachers suffered from stress as the need to adapt to online classes increased during the 2020 global crisis.

The prevalence of stress & burnout in the teaching profession

The teaching profession is naturally a demanding field with stress, anxiety, depression, and burnout becoming the face of the sector. Disciplinary and classroom management issues are some of the primary causes of stress and burnout in teachers today. Burnout can be defined as a state in which one is excessively drained; mentally, physically, and emotionally. Prolonged stress is the major contributor to burnout among teachers.

The sudden change in the education field, especially post the 2020 pandemic, has also led to increased mental health concerns among teachers globally. Remote teaching and technology adoption in the education sphere is not leaving teaching experiences the same. Many teachers globally are reporting increased stress and burnout.

The latest survey indicates that 52% of K-12 teachers report that they feel burned out and to substantiate, 35% of college and university teachers confirm being burned out at work.

On the other hand, the less pay and stress levels among teachers are causing many to cross to other professions. With all that, the effect of the increasing burned-out teachers’ workforce isn’t a good signal at all. To deliver effectively, teachers must be mentally and physically well. When lessons are delivered effectively, this also helps students grasp lectures constructively for better academic performance.

In this issue, we address the problem of burnout by presenting several ways through which teachers can cope with it while teaching online. When leveraged correctly, we believe they can make a difference in our educators’ teaching experiences.

7 ways teachers can cope with burnout while teaching online

1). Accept reality & adapt 

One of the most strategic countermeasures for any problem is accepting it. Many of the teachers haven’t let the reality of online teaching sink into their minds. This prevents the brain from formulating a way forward to adapt to the change. When teachers accept the shift in the education sector, it can help them mentally become flexible and this lessens stress and burnout chances.

It’s also essential for teachers to adapt to the new changes by honing teaching skills, especially per the current technological needs in the modern world. Teachers must continue investing in their professional development to remain fit and effective. Exploring the latest teaching strategies and technologies used while teaching online can help teachers become more adaptable to the changing teaching needs.

The achieved efficiency and proficiency will then help eliminate burnout chances and the pressure that may come from institutional administrators in meeting SMART Goals and optimizing the available classroom time. 

2). Set a time table & delegate 

Setting and following a practical timetable is one of the best approaches to constructing a balance between short and long-term tasks. From creating lesson plans, delivering lectures, and handling assignments, to grading exams, it may seem impossible to fit every task into the time frame. However, as a teacher, you can follow a reliable timetable and get things done within the best time possible. 

A few considerations include prioritizing tasks. The moment you understand what needs to be done throughout a semester and every day, you can plan and set a timetable in a way that reduces workload, rush hours, and sleepless nights.

On the other hand, delegation is one of the most effective approaches to time management and timely task completion. Although teachers have fewer chances of delegating tasks, with the fact that they are solely responsible for the virtual classrooms, it’s however possible. Appoint a class monitor who is responsible for contacting students personally on classroom matters like assignments, classroom timings, and any updates.

This helps teachers to handle and focus on major tasks that require high attention. This will largely reduce stress and burnout chances.

3). Set & stick to boundaries 

It is so easy for teachers to get lost in classroom duties and students’ needs at the expense of their personal time. Although it is a call of duty, and teachers must do everything in their power to help students, it’s essential to also prioritize mental and physical health. It is only through maintaining a healthy body and powerful state of mind can teachers impart knowledge to students effectively. 

With that, try to set a time in which you deliver the virtual classes, handle student queries, and respond to emails. Then try to respect personal time by focusing on yourself in order to achieve a work-life balance and rebooting your mental capabilities. Try not to extend classroom duties to break hours unless urgent. 

4). Find That Effective Stress-Reliever

There is a range of stress-relieving techniques and all that it takes is identifying the suitable one depending on your stressors. Virtual classes normally mean sitting in front of a laptop for long hours. This can affect your eyesight, sitting posture, and mood as you have to maintain an upper hand on student discipline and engagement. 

Some of the best stress-relieving techniques you can consider during online classes include breathing exercises to help you calm the mind. Another stress management approach is being proactive. Setting out classroom guidelines and connecting to each student individually can bring about effective classroom management to prevent stress and burnout.
Other post-classroom stress management techniques that can combat burnout include listening to music or engaging in your hobbies. A recent study revealed that music can impact cognitive function, well-being, and quality of life. Listening to music and dancing along can actively revitalize your brain and body.

5). Leverage Tools Where Possible

Thanks to technological advances, there is a range of tools available for teachers to optimize efficiency and get more done in a lesser time. More so, these tools can be used to enhance online teaching experiences. Depending on the need, these tools can be utilized for planning, maintaining records, tracking the student performance, and delivering online lessons.

Some of these tools include Zoom, Google Meet, online whiteboards, Google Classroom, Google Calendar, Dropbox, and Loom among others. Whether a teacher requires a tool for document management, sharing, quiz maker, or work planning, there is almost a tool for everything. 

The key consideration is introducing a technology that is reliable, scalable, and user-friendly for both the teacher and the students. In this way, a teacher can automate and streamline workflows to track tasks in the pipeline, reduce time wastage and maximize free time. It should be noted that many online teaching tools are free, however, others may require a subscription.

6). Try Flipped Classrooms

Flipped classrooms are associated with a range of benefits and apart from being an active learning approach, they relieve dimensional weight from teachers. Teaching isn’t all about presenting concepts to students. Teachers must ensure that learners actively engage in the lesson and understand what is being taught to perform well academically. Focussing on effective learning strategies also brings about deep learning. 

It’s a form of learning where students critically think about a concept and interact to understand its dimensional implications. Flipped classrooms are a classroom strategy that encourages learners to research topics prior to being discussed in the classroom. It encourages deep and personalized learning, where students study at their own pace and rely less on teachers. 
A teacher won’t spend a huge amount of time trying to explain intricate topics which helps reduce stress and burnout chances. A teacher will use classroom time to elaborate concepts based on student doubts and queries.

GlobeNewswire predicts the flipped classroom market to be worth US$ 4 Billion by 2027 based on a compound growth rate of 16.92% during 2022-2027. The major considerations for effective flipped classrooms include creating usable material at home for students and deciding on how to utilize class time effectively.

7). Seek Help 

Globally, there is a mental health decline in individuals of all ages partly due to the negative impact of the 2020 pandemic. However, when it comes to the teaching profession, the consequences of stress and burnout in teachers pose a significant threat to the education sector. Poorly addressed mental health problems in teachers can lower the quality of education that students receive.

Shockingly, new research indicates that 71% of teachers lack the right training to help them tackle their mental health problems. More so, many teachers fear seeking professional mental health assistance due to the stigma associated with the condition. To a larger extent, there is also a lack of awareness on how to address mental health issues and when to seek professional help.

To encapsulate, the teaching profession is the backbone of all fields today. Whether individuals want to become doctors, engineers, or designers, they must pass through the hands of a teacher or an educator. Vital as it is, the teaching profession is currently witnessing a great resignation where more and more teachers globally are opting out. Work pressure, less pays, and burnout are widely cited as major push factors.

We’ve discussed a range of approaches in this piece that can help teachers cope with burnout in order to deliver lessons effectively and improve their mental health.

What are Your Thoughts?

Do you think mental health among teachers is highly prioritized like in other professions? Are teachers receiving enough help to address their mental health issues or there is more to be done? Your views are highly valuable!