It is such a startling statistic that education has one of the highest turnover rates for any career out there.
So many of our friends, colleagues and even (maybe) ourselves have become disenchanted and frustrated by the higher demands in our field without higher respect, pay, or even assistance. This is what is called “burnout” and I know it well.
I was right there….almost exactly at the 5-year point when most teachers either stick it out or choose another career. Statistics show that almost half of teachers will leave the profession within the first 5 years, especially without mentoring. I was just finishing up my grad degree and felt that strong need for something, anything, that could provide me with a purpose again. That’s when I began my arts integration journey – and I have never looked back!
Now, I’m not suggesting that arts integration is a cure for teacher burnout.
In fact, I vehemently believe just the opposite. Arts integration is an intense program and if you’re doing it simply to prevent burnout, it may just speed it along. Only if you have a passion for this method and its effects on children should it be attempted. No, what I’m suggesting is that the only cure for burnout is passion.
If you think about it, we all need a spark – something that can excite us even when we’re stressed. Burnout is simply allowing the passion we once had to die within us. Not all passions need to flame at all times. It’s perfectly natural that certain passions in our life fade. Yet, the passion for teaching comes from a deeper place – it’s a personality trait in wanting to serve and help others. This passion may just need new sparks to keep it alive.
This is where professional growth comes in.
When you find the element of professional training that makes you excited and gives you energy despite the long hours and effort you put in, then you know you’ve found your spark. For me, this was arts integration. For you, it may be arts integration, but it may also be integrating technology in the classroom, a health initiative, green school programs, or any number of other possibilities.
The key for pushing past the burnout is not in quitting – it’s in determining a passion to support your innate service personality. This will take time. I wish we could all snap our fingers and have it fall in our laps. But, that’s just not the case. If you persist in your search, though, you WILL find something that will engage your mind and feed your passion for teaching again. Summer is such a great opportunity to learn, recharge and enjoy the process of discovering what’s right for you. Start today and see where your journey takes you – the joy and satisfaction will be worth it.
Susan Riley is the founder and President of EducationCloset.com. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, Common Core State Standards, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and Arts and the Common Core.
Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter.