UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Living between the call and the burden : teacher stories of burnout Meyer, Gregory Scott


Teachers live in a space between the calling and the burden – between the impulse to teach and the everyday stressors of teaching. According to research related to workplace stress, burnout is the result of long-term stress which has not been addressed over time. Teacher burnout is a major problem and is on the rise in British Columbia. In this thesis, I identify and describe the phenomenon of teacher burnout through teachers’ stories, and document ways teachers avoid and cope with stress and burnout. I interviewed six teachers in a focus group. Since they knew each other as fellow students in a Master’s program, a feeling of trust, empathy, confidentiality, and safety had already been established. As a result, the teachers disclosed their emotional and raw stories around stress and burnout. As a methodology, I use narrative inquiry to create meaning out of the teachers’ lived experiences around burnout and coping with stress. I use autoethnography to engage my own personal voice and stories as a teacher, enabling me to examine the cultural aspects of burnout by considering the social contexts in which it occurs. From my analysis of the literature on teacher burnout and the teachers’ stories (including my own), four themes emerge: stability, relationships, control, and culture/acculturation. As a framework, I locate the four themes between the call and the burden.

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