Prepper Stories

Driving Education Greatness



Psychology Today describes burnout as “a state of chronic stress that leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism, detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.” 

Teacher burnout has become more prevalent in the last few years. When the schools shut down in March of 2020, teachers were seen as heroes. Parents realized what we have all known for a long time, teaching is hard work.

When schools first shut down, our school district was on Spring Break. The district gave us one week to figure out how to create presentations for online learning and how to teach online. We pulled it together for the remainder of that school year, but I think that was the start of the increase in teacher burnout.

We were told we would have to teach online for “two weeks”. Remember when they told us that? That turned into the entire fourth quarter of that school year and the beginning of the following school year. Teachers at that time had to figure out how to do two jobs simultaneously. We had to figure out how to teach in person and provide content online at the same time. The workload was endless. We were just told over and over, “It’s what’s best for kids.” It was not what was best for teachers. It was at that time I started to feel the burn.

Teachers want to reach our students no matter the circumstances. We want to make connections and improve the quality of education happening in our school building. Just when we were working harder than we ever have, the Covid Gap began forming. Kids began to fall behind and we had to work even harder to get them caught up. Teachers needed more support with interventions and coaching support on their campuses in order to fill these gaps.

This year we are returning to “normal”, but the covid gap is still present. We are still working night and day to find ways to close the gap and help all students in all content areas including their social and emotional needs. I think that some people forgot that we need to look out for the social and emotional well-being of teachers as well. Teachers are working night and day for the betterment of our students at a personal cost. This is leading to more burnout. Teachers need support in the classroom. We need social and emotional support, academic support, administrative support, and grace.

The feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment from the first quote are what I believe are the root cause of teacher burnout. Teachers are trying so hard, with little support at times, to move mountains. Teachers want to make a difference in the lives of their students and when we see test scores and school letter grades, we feel that we aren’t working hard enough.

There don’t seem to be any quick fixes for teacher burnout, but with the correct amount of support, and understanding, we can take small steps to combat this overwhelming issue in education. It can be difficult to find time in the day to prioritize our personal needs. If you are feeling burnout, we connect with you. We see you. We hear you. If you aren’t feeling burnout right now, let us in on your secret! How do you deal with burnout?

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Sarah Kirchoff

Sarah Kirchoff is an instructional coach in Mesa Public Schools. She has over 20 years of experience in early childhood education. She began her teaching career way back in August 1999, when everyone was worried about Y2K. She did not even have computers in her classroom at that time! Since then, she has taught first grade for four years, preschool for three years, second grade for two years and kindergarten for twelve years. She has worked for three different school districts during her teaching career. During this time, she has been able to identify which grade she found to be the most enjoyable. Her greatest teaching passion is for kindergarten. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Arizona State University and a master’s degree in Elementary Education from Northern Arizona University. She was teacher of the year at her school in the 2019-2020 school year. She became a National Board Certified Teacher as an Early Childhood Generalist in December of 2020. She currently serves on numerous committees at her school including school site council, the instructional leadership team, and the culture and climate team. She is a mentor teacher at her school and has mentored numerous interns and student teaching candidates. When she is not busy with school commitments, she spends time with her family. She has a husband who is also a teacher, and four children. Two of which are students at NAU and two that are in high school. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, reading books and spending time with family, friends and her two dogs.

Children need a teacher that is always advocating for them, socially, emotionally, and academically. Sarah wants every student she encounters to realize their potential and she is willing to help in any way she can. The impact early childhood educators have on students reaches far beyond their younger years. Sarah wants to leave a positive impact on her students so they can continue to have wonderful educational experiences beyond her classroom and school.