Teacher burnout: the difficulties of the school environment

Under working conditions, that is a risk factor for determining Teacher Burnout the “chicken coop” classes and the lack of suitable places to carry out the learning activity are included both from a didactic point of view (lack of equipment) and from a logistical point of view (confined or breaking places).

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

I carried out my lessons ‘mechanically’, the goal was to finish the morning at school and that made it impossible for any peaceful relationship with my students, with colleagues, but also at home with my family. I was a “very tired” teacher.

“Work-Related Stress” Syndrome

Advertisement The term Burnout defines a work-related stress syndrome that puts the subject in a state of psychophysical exhaustion that involves various aspects of the individual’s life: personal, work, and relational.

In the beginning, this syndrome was exclusively related to the socio-health professional context, while today it affects all occupations based on interpersonal relationships, including those belonging to the education sector.

Characteristics of burnout

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

The result of these changes is an individual over-investment in spite of their own resources, which can then also lead to difficulty concentrating, sleep disorders and experiences of anxiety and depression.

These difficulties tend to induce a gradual emotional detachment on the subject leading to a feeling of real relational “negligence”, both in the personal and professional spheres.

At a behavioral level, these changes can translate into: absenteeism, declining productivity qualitatively and quantitatively, demands for transfer or resignation from the workplace.

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

Last but not least, the physical symptoms find a psychosomatic expression of suffering that causes intestinal disturbances, sleep and migraines.

What they observe in the workplace

Since this is a work-related stress syndrome, it is essential to look at all the risk factors that are present in the work context, namely:

  • Working conditions
  • Organization of the context
  • School policy.

The working conditions that determine a risk factor include the classes “chicken coop” and the lack of suitable places to carry out learning activities both from a didactic point of view (lack of equipment) and logistically (confined or dilapidated places).

The organizational aspects include: the number of working hours, the frequency of meetings, excessive bureaucracy and the lack of really significant training.

Finally, we observe the “school policy” which includes both limited career opportunities and unsatisfactory pay, often secondary to a climate of long precariousness.

Prevention and intervention in the workplace and in person

Legislative Decree 81/2008, concerning the protection of health and safety at work, obliges employers to assess all the risks that could compromise both the health and safety of workers, including work-related stress.

The goal is the transition from work-related stress risk to the emergence of burnout Syndrome.

In this respect, the European Agreement (Article 6) sets out three guidelines that provide for interventions in this area:

  • Management and communication
  • Training
  • Information and consultation

Advertisement In the area of ​​management and communication, it is essential to make the objectives of the teaching staff explicit, in order to guarantee listening and support. These last two aspects must be understood as the extension of the teacher as a resource not only professionally but also humanly and as an encouragement for the manifestation of any inconvenience related to the performance of the profession itself.

In the field of education, it is useful for teachers to raise awareness of the stressful situation by helping them not only to understand the causes, but also to offer them the opportunity, with qualified staff, to come up with useful strategies for caring for them. . thus effective.

In the field of information and advice, it is useful to have up-to-date information both in respect of the school context in which one operates in terms of resources, potential but also critical issues, as well as the teaching team itself actively in the decision-making and management processes of the school world.

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

There are a number of personal resources that enable psychological intervention, prevention and well-being in school. These interventions aim to strengthen psychological resources in order to reduce the impact of work-related stress and therefore limit the risk Burnout.

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

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

The school should today take into account how much the school has become organizationally complex and difficult for the real resources to be made available. When you think of a school that ignores the psychological well-being dimension of teachers, it means exposing them to risk burnout Syndrome and indirectly a difficult didactic and relational growth of students.

Recommended by the editors


  • S. De Stasio; C. Fiorilli; G. Clarified; L. Uusitalo-Malmivaara. (2015). Predictive factors in the burnout of primary and secondary support teachers.
  • Inail Research Sector (2012). Department of Occupational Medicine. Bornout and teaching.
  • Joints Psychometrics (2020). Burnout: Symptoms and intervention.
  • A. Hooks (2015). Burnout and learning: how to deal with teacher stress. State of mind Journal of Psychological Sciences.
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