Your Teacher Type and Why it Matters
Let's take a deep dive into some of the ways that you could be fueling your own burnout...
Now, before you roll your eyes, or yell “It’s not my fault, it’s the system!” at the screen, hear me out! Part of growing through burnout is about taking ownership of some of the choices and actions that may have contributed to your experience. The reality is that we are all a little complicit in our burnout.
You see, we have these stories that we tell ourselves - little (or even BIG) narratives that we subscribe to that inform our actions. This good teacher narrative makes us feel noble, like you’re in the profession for the “right reasons". You can justify late nights and weekends spent working because this is necessary for you to truly show up well for the kids. We feel like there are certain things we must do, and we overextend ourselves far beyond our physical, mental, and emotional capacity to stay true to these narratives. Often though, these narratives are exaggerated versions of our values that have been padded by what we see on social media, what the teacher down the hall or an administrator said, or even some of the things we learned in teacher prep. The passion for serving students magnifies the narratives and soon your authentic self is eclipsed by this nearly neurotic, anxious, or frazzled “teacher self". In a way, subscribing to this good teacher narrative is admirable because it reflects a deep longing to show up well for students. Ironically though, the same longing to show up well is the very reason that many teachers find themselves Googling “jobs you can do with a teaching degree” during their planning periods.
In my work and my experience, I’ve found that there are four primary teacher types that drive the actions of educators. These teacher types in and of themselves aren’t bad. However, the stories that most teachers tell themselves about their teacher type can contribute to their burnout and can keep them trapped in a cycle of misery that leads to exhaustion, bitterness, and resentment.
You deserve to show up well for your students and for all the other roles you play, whether you’re a parent, a spouse, a side hustler, or simply seeking the capacity to engage in other things that bring you joy. So, let’s go ahead and dive into the four teacher types, what they indicate, and the next step you can take to reframe your teacher-type narrative and become through your burnout.
The Four Teacher Types
The Hardworking Teacher
This kind of teacher believes more work equals more results. They believe that they deserve exhaustion and burnout because they are byproducts of their labor. The Hard-working Teacher doesn’t believe in taking time for themselves because it takes away from the time they could be planning or grading. I was the Hardworking Teacher. I truly believed that having extra time meant that I wasn’t doing enough to show up for my students. I showed up to school early and stayed late. Then, I went home and spent even more hours on lessons and curating the perfect activities for my students.
The Devoted Teacher
The devoted teacher is all in all the time. If there’s a committee, an extracurricular event, or a meeting this person will be there. This kind of teacher believes in being dependable and steady. However, in being reliable for others, this person neglects to show up for themselves.
The Caring Teacher
This individual is warm, compassionate, and operates with a mentality of others before self. The caring teacher is all about service. Their primary interest is how they can support others. Like the devoted teacher, the caring teacher’s focus on others means that they often come last on their list of priorities…that is if they’re on the list at all.
The Dynamic Teacher
This teacher is someone who truly believes that learning should be fun. They seek to make every lesson and classroom interaction engaging. This type of teacher might invest heavily in writing songs and creating whole brain-type activities that immerse students in learning. This teacher might also spend inordinate amounts of time building lessons and curriculum from scratch because they believe that every lesson and activity should be a newsworthy, front-page feature. The Dynamic Teacher’s intentions are pure, but the impact on their mental and physical health makes their habits and choices unsustainable and impractical in the long run.
You may recognize a little of yourself across all the teacher types. But most of us have a primary teacher type that best reflects our beliefs. The teacher types, in and of themselves, aren’t the problem. The issue arises from the choices and habits we engage in as we strive to embody our teacher ideals. The culture of the K-12 education system has always regarded and even rewarded “overwork” as a standard. So educators feel like they can’t impose boundaries for fear of being regarded as lazy or selfish.
So, you may be wondering what you can do to discover more about your teacher type and how to begin to move through the beliefs that could be holding you back from the next phase of your professional growth.
Take my free “Teacher Types Quiz"! This resource will help you determine which teacher type you most identify with. It will also suggest your next steps to start reframing your narrative so you can show up more authentically and joyfully in your classroom and in your life.
Thanks for sharing your time with me today.
Until the next episode, remember to celebrate progress, even the baby steps, and embrace the journey.
Resources Mentioned in This Episode
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