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Teacher: The Day I Knew I Was Burnt Out

Teacher: The Day I Knew I Was Burnt Out

In any job, it’s hard to not be burnt out. Being a teacher can be one of the most challenging jobs out there. One English teacher who experienced burnout didn't stray far from classrooms. She actually spent a year visiting schools and learning from other teachers.

Ellie Herman became a teacher in 2007 at a South Los Angeles charter school where she taught drama, creative writing, English 11, and 9th grade Composition until 2013, according to an article on

Herman has written about the lessons she learned on her blog, and the Washington Post republished her article.

“I burned out after teaching for five years at a high school in a very low-income neighborhood,” she said. “What made me burn out was not that so many of my students came in with reading skills several years behind their grade level. Nor was it that many of them also came in with a history of negative experiences in school.”

What finally pushed her out, Herman said, was “a monster we called La Bestia — ‘The Beast,’” she said.

“La Bestia was a photocopier, the size of a Prius,” she said. “On a good day, she could spit out 150 copies of an entire SAT practice test, all sorted and stapled. On a bad day, though, even if you just wanted 32 copies of a two-page Junot Diaz story, she’d throw a hissy fit, with flashing red lights and shrill beeps before stalling flat.”

Teaching at a high-poverty school, she said, “was different because no matter how fast or long I worked, I could not get everything done.”

“I miss my students every day,” Herman said. “Despite everything, I loved teaching. For every dark day, there were moments of immense pride at what my students had accomplished. I plan to go back. But I’m terrified of burning out again. If the United States is serious about attracting and retaining good teachers, the first thing we need to do is give us the conditions we need to get our jobs done right. Just about every other country in the world does. Why can’t we?”

Read the full story and comment below. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor

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