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The Exhaustion Funnel




It's pivotal to understand that working in education can be an incredibly rewarding and seeing students learn and grow can be a source of great pride and satisfaction for educators.


However, it can also be a very demanding job.


Long hours, high expectations, and constant pressure to perform can take a toll on educators, leading to burnout and exhaustion.


Marie Asberg's Exhaustion Funnel provides a useful framework for understanding the stages of burnout and how it affects educators.


Stage 1: Enthusiasm and Drive


At the top of the Exhaustion Funnel are enthusiasm and drive. Stage 1 is where educators are motivated, energised, and passionate about their work. They may have a sense of purpose and feel inspired by their students' progress.


However, overextending oneself during this phase can lead to burnout later on.


Stage 2: Stagnation and Frustration


As educators progress down the Exhaustion Funnel, they may begin to feel stagnation and frustration. This can occur when their work begins to feel routine, and they feel like they need to progress both the learners and themselves. Educators may start to feel overwhelmed by the demands of their job, leading to decreased motivation and enthusiasm.


Stage 3: Apathy and Detachment


At this stage, educators may feel apathetic and detached from their work. They may feel they have lost their sense of purpose and no longer have a passion for teaching. This stage can lead to a decline in their overall performance, and they may start to disengage from their students and colleagues.


Stage 4: Emotional Exhaustion


The final stage of the Exhaustion Funnel is emotional exhaustion. At this point educators may feel completely drained and overwhelmed by their work. They may feel unable to cope with the demands of their job, leading to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. This stage is often the hardest to address, and it's essential to try and provide interventions before this point is reached.


The costs associated to organisational wellbeing are often larger at this stage not just in terms of money but also the wellbeing of other employees in the organisation.


Consider the ramifications of a staff member on longer-term sickness in terms of other staff picking up extra hours. Is it possible this may cause even more burnout?


Then also consider the costs associated with longer-term sickness and absence related to staffing costs. Is it possible your overall budget may be squeezed by a staff member being on sick leave?


Taking proactive steps to avoid burnout is essential, such as setting realistic goals, maintaining a work-life balance, and seeking support from colleagues and supervisors is essential.


One key piece of research related to the field of education is that staff also need to see their students' progress over time. So it's essential to celebrate successes and to understand long-term student outcomes.


By doing so, educators can stay motivated, engaged, and effective in their roles, leading to a more rewarding and fulfilling career.

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