Early Warning Signs of OEB Online educators who report feeling burned out report thefollowing common symptoms:• Chronic fatigue – feeling constantly tired or exhausted• Anger at those making demands• Self-criticism for putting up with the demands• Cynicism, negativity, irritability• A sense of being besieged• Exploding easily at seemingly inconsequential things• Frequent headaches and gastrointestinal disturbances• Weight loss or gain• Sleeplessness and depression• Shortness of breath• Suspiciousness• Feelings of helplessness• Increased degree of risk taking* Many of these signs may be caused by a medical condition. Check with yourphysician
Prevention Strategies For Learning InstitutionsKyricacou (as cited by Wood & McCarthy, 2004; Hogan & McKnight, 2007) suggest thefollowing advice for learning institutions:• Consult with online faculty on matters directly impacting their learning environment;•Provide adequate resources to support online instructors;•Provide detailed job descriptions and faculty expectations to reduce role ambiguity;•Create and maintain clear lines of communication between online faculty and administratorsby performance feedback;•Facilitate professional development activities; and,•Reduce teaching load and number of students per online course.Source: Kyriacou, C. (2001). Teacher stress: Directions for future research. Educational Review, 53, 28-35.
Prevention Strategies For Online FacultyCoombe (2008) suggests the following prevention strategies for online faculty:1. Awareness of burnout symptoms;2. Reaching out to others for support;3. Consulting with other colleagues and building an circle of support;4. Interacting with the learning institution and various administrators;5. Avoid sweating the small stuff;6. Take time each day to engage in something enjoyable;7. Get involved in professional activities; and,Remember the reasons for getting involved with teaching in the first place.Source: Coombe, C. (2008). Burnout ELT: Strategies for avoidance and prevention. TESOL Arabia perspectives , 15 (3),11-13.
AmeliorationDirect Action & Palliative Coping Skills (Lazarus, 1981);(Kyriacou, 2001):1. Keep problems in perspective;2. Avoid confrontations;3. Relax after work;4. Take action to deal with problems;5. Keep feelings under control;6. Devote more time to particular tasks;7. Discuss problems and express feelings to others;8. Have a healthy home life;9. Plan ahead and prioritize; and,10. Recognize one’s own limitations.Source: Moore, J. (2009) Online Educator Burnout.
Self-Care1. Let go of guilt associated with not being constantly available to students right away;2. Set clear office hours and obey them, blocking off time for specific work-related tasks at various points throughout the day (i.e. e-mail, grading);3. Manage time more effectively and learn to communicate current workload withadministrators; and,4. Be proactive and manage student expectations (i.e. communications policy,check-in schedules and response turn-around times).
Other tips ….1. Schedule regular meal times as well as outdoor time;2. Balance work-related tasks with social breaks; and,3. Make “work talk” off limits during non-office hours;4. Think twice before making your cell number available;5. Block off part of your day and say NO to everything
SummaryWhat we know:• Online Educator Burnout is a real problem• Learning institutions should learn more about this issue• Online educators need to learn more about burnout