School: A building for preparation or panic?

School: A building for preparation or panic?

A paper due at 11:59, staying up until 2AM studying for four exams the next day, barely eating because you’re too busy and stressed. No, this is not the life of a student in med school, this is the common life of a high schooler.

Student burnout refers to a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion with no time to recharge. This typically stems from an overbearing schedule, lack of sleep, and unrealistic deadlines. Sophia Ogden (11), a student involved in numerous extracurricular activities, taking honors classes, all while maintaining an academic position of the top 5% of her class, she says her day, like the majority of high schoolers, begins before 7 AM, but doesn’t wind down until after 11:30 PM. Furthermore, she explains that during the course of the school year due to stress, she had to take multiple days off to recuperate and catch up.

According to the American Psychological Association’s Stress in America 2020 survey, teens who are already under stress due to the typical pressures of high school have felt even more stress in recent years, as an effect of the pandemic. Approximately 43 percent of teens surveyed in 2020 said their stress levels increased, and 45 percent said they had a hard time concentrating on schoolwork,., many explaining that they felt less motivated to show up and do work. Although life has returned to normal for the most part, that doesn’t mean the stress that high school students feel has disappeared. And, it’s not only students, but teachers as well.

Lesson plans to prepare over 100 papers to grade. Underpaid, overworked, undersupported. Teaching, without question, is a significantly challenging profession and with the constant pressures combined with lack of support from the school system, teachers are suffering severely from burnout.

Living in the “post-pandemic” world, teachers have been put on the front lines of it all. Having to manage the constantly changing health guidelines, being forced to quickly shift to remote instruction, then abruptly shifting back to in-person instruction has created stress and an immense lack of stability for teachers.

However, many concerns regarding teacher burnout predates pandemic. After speaking with Don Melville, an AP U.S. History teacher, the PBIS Team Leader, and the sponsor for CARIBSA, he explains that the biggest pressure from the school system is always testing. From CFA’s to standardized tests and exams, neither students nor teachers can get a break. As teachers, content has to rapidly move along to ensure the necessary material is covered in time to review and prepare for what is next. Rather that inflicting the unrealistic pressures he faces upon the students, he explains that he focuses on their growth.

He states, “I have definitely become a lot more focused on seeing students learn, grow, and succeed, rather than focusing on strictly content.”

What seems like the typical 7-2 job sometimes can actually extend well over a 14-hour stressful work day. The National Educational Association says adults need to get between 7-9 hours of sleep; however, the majority report only getting between 4-6. This, combined with a considerably long work day can cause severe issues with memory, mood, attention, and focus, further contributing to feelings of burnout.

Combating Burnout

It is clear and evident that both students and teachers have been dealing with significant cases of burnout. If not fixed this can lead to anxiety, depression and chronic physical and mental fatigue, all of which can keep you from efficiently working. It is imperative that you replenish and re-energize your focus, physical and emotional health. The first step in combating burnout is recognizing the telltale signs.