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What is Quiet Quitting and how to deal with teacher burnout

Photo by Marcus Aurelius
Photo by Marcus Aurelius

There is a recent buzz on the term quiet quitting, however its definition is still evolving.

Since the viral TikTok video by Zaid Khan, the internet has been flooded with various opinions on quiet quitting. The trend #quietquitting has amassed 99.1 million views on TikTok alone.

Managing Director of Randstad for Singapore and Malaysia, Jaya Dass told CNBC that quiet quitting isn’t new and evolved from the passive aggressive challenge of work-life balance. 

Whether or not we agree on the approach of quiet quitting, employee burnout has been evident in many recent reports. A global study by Gallup Inc. found that employee stress levels reached its all-time high in 2021. Additionally, the 2022 State of the Global Workplace report from Gallup shows only 21% of employees are engaged at work.

Quiet Quitting in Education

Teachers have long been known to go above and beyond in their jobs, going as far as digging into their own finances to buy materials for students. Some claim that quiet quitting doesn’t apply to the teaching profession while some have taken it on themselves to help teachers quiet quit.

TikTok user millenialmsfrizz encourages teachers to quiet quit by dropping extra activities like coaching, clubs and PLCs. She added that teachers shouldn’t work extra hours or spend their own money on their classroom. She also claims that extra hours will lead to burnout.

How to know if you’re burned out

Laurie Santos, Yale University professor and cognitive scientist who designed the Yale “happiness” course identifies three main symptoms for teacher burnout:  

1. Emotional Exhaustion

The feeling of exhaustion even after a good night’s sleep.

2. Depersonalization

Reading other people’s intentions as negative and with cynicism.

3. Lack of personal efficacy

The feeling of being inefficient, frustrated and unable to make a difference.

She advises teachers to look out for these signs and take The Maslach Burnout Inventory to do a self-check.

CNBC suggests trying these 3 things before resolving to quiet quitting:

Be efficient during work

Maggie Perkins, a teacher who practiced quiet quitting said that you cannot “become a negative person at work. Still give your positive attitude … you have to be who [your company] hired, but be who they hired for the hours that you’re paid to be there.” 

When you are productive and proud of your work, you are less likely to feel frustrated and burned out from your day to day job.

Take ownership of your own life

Dass from Randstad said that employees should take ownership for their own growth and understand why they feel burned out. 

“People are very quick to say I’m unhappy, but why are you unhappy and what will make you happy is a very hard question,” she said.

Similarly, we get distracted easily when we don’t know our purpose. Knowing clearly what we want to achieve and who we want to be helps us stay grounded and true to what we do. Ultimately, our careers and our lives are for us to shape.

Talk to your boss

Many people take their frustration to social media and Career Coach Wat says that it is “irresponsible” to quietly quit without having conversations with your supervisor about your needs and current challenges. 

If these things are not addressed with the people involved, “the needle will never move.”

Perhaps all it takes is one conversation to realign and address unmet needs.

“Few things in life are as enjoyable as when we concentrate on a difficult task, using all our skills, knowing what has to be done.”
― Howard Gardner, Good Work

Help your students discover their life purpose, natural strengths and performance characters that lead to better career outcomes. Find out more about our workshop here!

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