Burnout is something that is not often discussed in PE as we often 'take things in our stride'. However, I am going to 'put it out there', I struggle massively with: Reports... Assessment.... Unnecessary paperwork as a whole.
I am quite overwhelmed and exhausted by writing report in PE in the International Setting. This is something that we have all come to expect (and dread) at the end of the school year. It is a process that has become, in my establishment; more of a show for parents rather than a process to benefit the children.
In the British system, the "levels" in Physical Education have been stopped- giving creatively minded teachers much more of a free reign to deliver the curriculum in an innovative manner, not sticking to prehistoric norms. The parents expectations, however, are very much stuck to "what it was like when they were at school" and so do not like to see any change in the system as positive.
So really the cause of burnout I am describing is two things- unnecessary paperwork and expectations (both parental and collegial). Both of these are also recognized by Kottler, Zehm and Kottler (2005).
It is becoming increasingly bewildering to have to complete endless paperwork on each individual child that I teach. I feel this time could be much better spent preparing resources/ lessons that would benefit the learning journey of the child. Some of this paperwork includes reports, assessment, risk assessments, bus forms for excursions, individual education plans, SEN and G&T analysis, reflections, school development plans, personal performance analysis, peer observations… the list goes on.
This links closely to another issue that could lead to burnout- the lack of respect that people have for teaching as a profession (Nieto, 2003). I would never ask for thanks or gratitude, as it is not in my nature but it frustrates me desperately when people ‘down play’ our roles as teachers and do not realise the endless extra hours we put in or the massive burden that our roles are.
On a leadership course I was at this week, I saw a very interesting video that put a satirical spin on the current education system in Britain (Robinson, 2010). It suggests schools are like factories with their different departments that send children through in ‘batches’ based on their age. This intrigued me and again got me asking questions about the regimented education, reporting and assessment system currently in place. It suggested that with the standardized testing currently in place- we are restricting our learners and should instead be encouraging divergent thinking.
It is viewing different perspectives on education like this that keeps me motivated. Kottler et al. (2005) also suggest that ensuring you have a solid support network around you also helps relieve stress and lessen the chances of burnout. I have a supportive network of friends, family and colleagues but I think we all need to recognise that sometimes our jobs will get on top of us. It is just important to remind ourselves of our mission statements and why we got into the profession to keep us going.
I came across Leija’s (2011) writing before and am very impressed with it.(Please look it up if you have not seen it before) It’s poetic nature and succinct comments are motivating and promote comradery, implying that this is a mantra of all teachers and that we are in it together. This is comforting. I have put this up in my office in work to help get me through this report writing week. I particularly like the last statement and feel it is a good way to finish my discussion post this week. “I am a teacher. I have answered the call. I cannot and will not fail” (Leija, 2011).
Kottler, J. A., Zehm, S. J., and Kottler, E. (2005). On being a teacher: The human dimension (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Nieto, S. (2003). What Keeps Teachers Going? New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Robinson, K. (2010). [Video] Changing Education Paradigms. Retrived from: http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_changing_education_paradigms.
By the time you read my reply - you may have chucked the towel in - I hope not...
Thanks for sharing - sounds terribly familiar - paperwork overload - certainly easier to decline an invitation to go to an all day tournament... but go we do - or aspire too - it's a great motivator and often brings out the best in our students