Teacher burn-out

So your recruitment campaign has gone well, several new learners have signed up, you’re enjoying teaching them and it’s very rewarding to observe the progress they are making. Everyone should be delighted, but there’s something to watch out for which even the most enthusiastic and committed teachers can experience – burn-out.

Teacher burn-out occurs when a teacher is putting considerable effort into teaching learners as an ongoing commitment, perhaps on several evenings a week, then feeling too exhausted to go out and enjoy their own ringing activities.

In an effort to retain these precious new ringers at all costs, the teacher might be bending over backwards to accommodate them all as some individuals progress more quickly than others and need different practice opportunities to keep things interesting.

What are the warning signs?

  • Feeling overwhelmed and exhausted
  • Feeling trapped in a cycle of having to please all the ringers, fear of them giving up if you don’t provide them with enough opportunities to progress.
  • Waning enthusiasm
  • Feeling alone
  • Neglecting own ringing which was previously enjoyed
  • Physical tension and strain injuries
  • Feeling resentment and anger if ringers don’t seem as enthusiastic or give up ringing ‘after all my efforts’.
  • Needing a break but feeling too conscientious to cancel a practice

And what if your ringers do give up?

Sometimes, despite your best efforts and exemplary teaching, coaching and band management, ringers do just give up. Often this is not a reflection on your teaching but due to personal circumstances.

A new relationship, work commitments, moving house, other hobbies that takes place on the same evening, pregnancy or any change of life circumstances can mean someone gives up ringing – sometimes for a short while, sometimes permanently. It’s easy to feel despondent if you’ve spent months and years recruiting and training new ringers, only for your once promising band to dwindle down to just a handful or even nobody at all.

This can lead to feeling disillusioned and resentful. After all that work, some teachers don’t feel inclined to start recruiting all over again.

What can you do about it?

Recognise these symptoms? If so, the most important thing to know is:

You're not alone. Mention these feelings to any dedicated and active ringing teacher and they'll nod their heads in agreement. They've been there too!

And you can and should do something about it. Teaching in groups where the burden is shared is obviously ideal, and collaborating with other local towers who can help by running combined practices or workshops can benefit everyone.

Or maybe you need to focus. If you've spread yourself too thin and are doing too much, how about thinking of each activity as a project you've piloted? In this way you can step back, decide if they're working for the the ringers attending them. If they're not stop them and if they are work out how you can get others to "step up to mark" and take over running them. They might do things differently to you, but maybe that is a good thing, and at least you don't blow up. You can then concentrate on the projects that are dearest to your heart and get some balance back into your ringing.

Finally ask for help and support. Having a ringing friend who you can share ideas and frustrations with, can go a long way towards maintaining your sanity.

I used to get upset when ringers gave up, but then I saw that it happened to others too.

I have seen trainers really show love and care to their pupils, putting themselves out to teach even when they did not feel quite up to it. And then the pupil just says “Thanks, but I don’t find it interesting any more”. It is a shame, but that’s life.

In my opinion, this is largely not up to you! People will give up for all sorts of reasons (work, illness, boy/girlfriend trouble, laziness) that you really can’t do anything about.

If they find ringing interesting of itself, they will stay almost in spite of anything you do. If they don’t find it interesting of itself, they won’t stay whatever you do!

What's next?

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