Thursday, April 16, 2009

Education Executives - Teacher Burnout

If you are an executive, school board member or an administrator, this article from 2002 still provides valuable insight into teacher burnout and what broad steps you can take to create an environment where the potential for burnout is lessened.

"Understanding and Preventing Teacher Burnout" focuses on three levels of intervention.

  1. Reducing the incidence of new cases. Prevent burnout happening.

  2. Detect and respond to early symptoms before they get more serious.

  3. Provide assistance or treatment and prevent further relapse.

In their own words, the authors note:

"Albee (2000), one of the pioneers of prevention research, points out that, "It is accepted public health doctrine that no disease or disorder has ever been treated out of existence". It is far better if the roots of teacher burnout are identified and eliminated before the syndrome develops, rather than treating it after it has already occurred. Across the various medical professions, a distinction has been made between three levels of prevention interventions:

  1. Primary prevention, where the goal is to reduce the incidence of new cases of a disorder,

  2. secondary prevention, where the goal is early identification and treatment of symptoms before they turn into a full-blown disorder, and

  3. tertiary prevention, where persons who have recently suffered a disorder receive some type of intervention to prevent relapse (Conyne, 1991).

Such preventative interventions may either be done at the organizational level, with changes in the school environment, or at the individual level, in which the goal is to strengthen teachers' resources for resisting stress."

Management in any organization would do well to take note of how the environment and the individual interact and developing strategies for reducing the incidence of burnout. I recommend reading the complete article.

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