Burnout Prevention series aids aspiring and current teachers with pandemic fatigue

Abi Pepin, Reporter

Students and professors are facing more stress than ever as they balance classes with their social life, Zoom fatigue and endless to-do lists during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a study conducted by the Health Minds Network, 31.1% of students indicated that anxiety has affected their academics during the pandemic.

After teaching a class about burnout prevention for 10 years, an associate professor started Lunch and Learns.

Chris Osmond (Courtesy of the Department of Leadership and Educational Studies )

Lunch and Learns is a virtual series for pre-service caring professionals, such as future teachers, nurses, social workers, counselors, to have conversations about burnout prevention and sustainable practice.

Chris Osmond, a professor in the Department of Leadership and Educational Studies, said the series’ goal is to address problems’ solutions to avoid being “burned out.”

“When I first came to App State, I was really looking for ways to bring medical education’s insight into teachers’ education,” Osmond said.

Osmond first taught burnout prevention in a seminar for students in the Honors College, but wanted it to be more accessible so others could participate.

“My dream is that we just start a conversation across the campus among both practicing caring professionals and future caring professionals about these issues,” Osmond said. “We’ve all experienced issues like burnout, compassion and fatigue. We all know what’s going on.”

Osmond said these conversations are more urgent and valuable than ever during COVID-19. 

“All of us are dealing with unprecedented stress and challenges to our well-being but those are particularly felt among caring professionals,” Osmond said. “I think this is very timely. These ideas are evergreen.”

Kat Edwards, a junior special education major, wrote in an email that as a future special education teacher, she wants to prepare herself for all aspects of the job.

That is why these Lunch and Learns have been so important to me,” Edwards wrote. “I am finding ways to take care of myself within the career that demands so much of me, both physically and mentally, so that I am not one of the statistics of teachers who quit within the first five years of teaching.”

According to an article from the Economic Policy Institute, about 30% of college graduates that became teachers were not in the same profession after five years in 2019.

“As teachers, healthcare providers, we tend to put our hearts into our work and care for others on a deeper level, but can forget to also care for ourselves,” Edwards wrote.

Allen Smith, a history and social studies instructor at UNC School of the Arts, wrote in an email that the sessions are “informative, reflective and recharging.”

“I want to be connected, even for a short time, with a group that is possibly feeling the same way I am at times: both stressed and overwhelmed,” Smith wrote. “It is important to find community when one can, especially during our current state of affairs .”

Smith has attended one session and said he plans to attend the rest.

“Through listening, informally writing and discussing these moments of self-doubt and my work inside an institution, I aired out at least some of my judgements about myself, my work and began exploring the thoughts and feelings behind the stress I deal with daily,” Osmond wrote.

Lunch and Learns are every Thursday from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. For more information about the Lunch and Learns sessions, email osmond@appstate.edu.