Is burnout in teaching inevitable?

When I started teaching, I was next door to two veteran teachers who met every day at lunch to share their cynical views of everything from students to admin to the future of education. Total victims of teacher burnout! It was difficult for me to listen to their complaining because I was so excited to have my own classroom, my own students… They always invited me and i ate with them for a while but it just didn’t feel right.

One day another teacher gave me the best advice of my career. “Avoid those two. They will ruin your good feelings about teaching.” I’m sure it is true in any field that a negative attitude can rub off on those around us but where is it more important than teaching to avoid that burnout attitude like crazy???

As the years have passed, I have strived to constantly maintain strong relationships with my students, to be on the lookout for the best way to teach them to love learning Spanish, and to keep a positive attitude. When people make me feel down (like I did those early days in the lunchroom) with their negativity about what I am passionate for, I run the other way!

On Monday I’ll say hello to my 20th class of Freshmen. My 20th year of excitement about new markers, new notebooks, and new faces in my room! No burnout for me!! I’m more excited about it each year because I have always learned something new over the summer that I can’t wait to try or because I have a great new way to approach something that failed the year before!

So here’s to the class of 2017! Welcome to high school! I hope you leave my room every day excited about learning Spanish and knowing that you’re important to me! Only 15 more first days of school for me! I’m not counting them down excited for the last one, I’m counting how lucky I am to have 15 more to look forward to! Forget the burnout, I’m going to make the most of every one!

Author: senoracmt

I began teaching Spanish in Illinois in 1994. I have taught levels 1-4 in a small rural high school, 8th grade introductory Spanish, Biology 1, and 101 and 102 at the community college level. My Spanish classes are partnered with the community college to offer students 8 semester hours of dual credit on completion of Spanish 4. In 2011 I met Carol Gaab and Kristy Placido and have since co-authored the book "La hija del sastre" with Carol Gaab and authored the novels "La Calaca Alegre", "Bianca Nieves y los 7 toritos." "Vector," "48 horas" and "Bananas" through Fluency Matters. In 2006 I became National Board certified and I have been serving as a mentor both for candidates seeking certification in world languages other than English and a virtual mentor for candidates in all certificate areas. I completed my Masters degree in Spanish education in 2011 and did my research on the use of Understanding by Design to create meaningful cultural units for the language classroom. I am a frequent presenter on this topic, please consider me if you are interested in a workshop on backward design. In 2013 I was named the ICTFL Foreign Language teacher of the year and in 2014 I was selected as CSCTFL's teacher of the year. In November of 2014 I was lucky enough to be one of the five finalists for the ACTFL National Teacher of the Year in San Antonio, TX. What a "Cinderella" experience! You can reach me via email at senoracmt at

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