The highest reward for a person's toil is not what is received for it, but what he/she becomes by it.– Anonymous
Burnout is a label used to define the stress experienced by those who work in interpersonally intense occupations subject to chronic tension (Cunningham, 1983), such as teaching. This form of stress manifests itself as a state of physical, emotional, and cognitive exhaustion that produces feelings of alienation, indifference, and low self-regard (Huberman, 1993b). The most commonly used instrument for assessing burnout, the MBI (Maslach Burnout Inventory; Maslach and Jackson, 1981), defines it in terms of three dimensions: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a reduced sense of personal accomplishment.
Symptoms of burnout are both organizational and personal. Organizational symptoms include increased absenteeism, performance decline, poor interpersonal relations with co-workers and, in the case of teachers, with students (Cunningham, 1983). At a personal level, teachers who experience burnout are less sympathetic toward students, are less committed to and involved in their jobs, have a lower tolerance for classroom disruption, are less apt to prepare adequately for class, and are generally less productive (Blase and Greenfield, 1985; Farber and Miller, 1981). Perhaps even more germane to school restructuring is the evidence, reviewed by Cunningham (1983), that teachers experiencing burnout tend to be dogmatic about their practices and to rely rigidly on structure and routine, thereby resisting changes to those practices.
Clearly, these symptoms are anathema to most current school restructuring efforts.
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