A burn-out story 

How does one continue in a career when the passion is gone? How does one regain the love that once existed for a very important job? 

I am a teacher. I have been in the profession for 25 years and while I have had bad days, weeks or even months in this profession,  I  can not say that I  have felt so “done” and so ineffective in the classroom. When I  started out, I  had a plan. I had planned to stay in the class for at least 15 years and be ready for an education -related job for the last 10 so that I  would never be one of those teachers who should not be teaching.  I started my plan by working on my Master’s degree  in administration.  I started, and a year in, a job opened up at the high school level that I  figured would help. In order to stay, I switched  my master’s  to Secondary English Education with plans for a doctorate in curriculum and instruction. Life happened, a divorce happened and my plan began to fall apart. I continued  to enjoy the class and decided  that it must be my calling to be in the classroom until retirement.

Life, again, happened. I found the person who would teach me what it was to live life. I remarried and I  was indescribably  happy. Even with that, I  had a year with 4 preps, difficult students and large classes. My burn-out began. Even though at the end of that year, I was exhausted and questioning  my effectiveness  in the classroom,  I returned the following school year  with a wonderful schedule and smaller classes. My hope had been restored. Unfortunately, that lasted until October when my husband of only 3 1/2 years was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma,  a rapid, devastating  cancer of the bile duct. I was in and out of classes all year. I was blessed with support from the superintendent who made it possible for me to be out when I needed it.By June, my husband  was gone. My life fell apart and things have not been the same. 

I returned to work in late July to 3 preps, larger classes and a class I had not taught in a while and had been redesigned since. Everyone kept telling get me that going back to work would be good for me. They were terribly  wrong. I  could not concentrate,  I  could not handle deadlines, I  couldn’t handle the students and I was horribly ineffective.  Again, the superintendent stepped in and sent me to a counselor. The counselor determined that if I was to make it, I  would need an additional  planning period. This was arranged for me but not without backlash.I was asked “can’t you just stay after school and get things done ?” and “Do you think this will really help?” I was mortified. I had to call the counselor to talk me down. I wanted to walk out. 

Fast forward a few months and things were so much better. I was able to handle things better, but I was still losing my passion. I was and still am, just going through the motions, showing up, completing tasks and doing it all over again the next day. Also, there are those who are saying ” it’s been long enough, what’s her problem?” As the weeks pass, I have found I no longer care. I don’t know the problem; I do know that the passion I had for teaching is gone. Completely  depleted. While I  have always been able to find my way back, I can’t this time. Now, with a 25-year investment in my career, I  need a different direction.  However, again, I  don’t know what to do. Personally,  things are much better, but professionally, I stand at the proverbial fork in the road. 


2 thoughts on “A burn-out story 

  1. 😦 Just when I have finally found a pep in my step after 13 years and KNOW this is really my profession, my mentor loses hers. You are an excellent teacher!! I hope knowing that you make a difference in little ways with your expectations, love of literature, and great writing teaching helps. I have found that I am in Mama mode more often and that I really love these teenagers as much as they annoy me.

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