Burnout. Real. Is Happening. Now.

Today I received a private e-mail from John Piazza and reproduce it here. I think its timing, its subject matter and its implications for the future of this work are staggering. We must decide how we are going to respond. Inaction will result in, in its worst form, the end of our profession as we know it, because all the good teachers will be gone:

Hi Tina and Ben.

I woke up this morning to a troubling thread on CI Liftoff, which I guess that you have seen. A teacher had posted asking for advice on alternative careers for herself, a qualified teacher with a MA. She said she could no longer stand the stress, anxiety, early mornings, etc. What followed was 40 comments by CI teachers, who are also considering getting out of the teaching profession, or teaching/training adults, etc.

The fact that these teachers are serious CI practitioners, many of whom have attended multiple workshops, and are still considering leaving, shows me that avoiding burnout is not being placed sufficiently at the center of this work (in terms of the trainings happening all over the country by many CI-influenced groups). I think many teachers come away from CI workshops with a list of more things to do and/or prepare–overwhelming.

In some ways, this is more immediately crucial than the other issues that we have been discussing, because no long-term change can happen when teachers are just trying to get through their day, week, etc.

Just thinking out loud, but there is such a need for specific burnout-avoiding strategies. Without it, even the most talented, dedicated, and best intentioned teachers will simply leave.

My guess is that you are already focusing on this in your recent workshops more than others are, but I wanted to reiterate how important it is at this crisis point in the teaching profession, where we can’t afford to lose any more teachers, especially the ones who embody the future of language teaching.


I responded:

John I could not agree more and you put it perfectly. We must lay the responsibility on the trainers, as you house the problem above in terms of the “trainings happening all over the country by many CI-influenced groups.”

Yes, the trainings are ineffective because the real issues are not being addressed. I am writing a book on it but it is so cumbersome to write. And Tina and I ran out of time in our two day training in Atlanta to address classroom management. Clearly, the subject of classroom management requires its own conference.

I am trying to move to video, maybe get some of the ideas that Tina and I have developed about classroom management onto video. Our own “program” is based on our own experiences that one could even call a “system” for getting control over the kids that I think is quite good and effective and, most importantly, not arbitrary and general.  If it wouldn’t solve the problem, it at least offer to some teachers at least a way of slowing it down.

You are so on point here. It is an indictment of sorts. But there is no time to indict anybody. Rome is burning and all of a sudden we are all classically trained violinists. And, as is true in the world of classical music, those playing the loudest are usually the least skilled.




1 thought on “Burnout. Real. Is Happening. Now.”

  1. I know what you are talking about bc I was there myself.

    I think the traditional way with only one adult (the teacher) with up to 30 or more kids is for many of us the surest way to burn-out. ( I was told by a colleague that she knows s.o. who is working at a place for patients with depression/ burn-out and that about 75% of them are teachers.)
    But more staff means more money and since when has real education ever had the upper hand about economical considerations.
    I wonder how long it will take until enough people realize that it’s much better to spend much more money on children at the beginning of their school career then later on when those who didn’t get enough help to succeed can’t get a job or even might become criminals.

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