Teacher Says She & Her Colleagues Are Already Burned Out Less Than A Month Into The School Year — 'The Kids Are Different'

"The whole shebang is different," she said in regards to her students, and several other teachers agreed.

music teacher, burned out by kids butterpunkk / TikTok; trigga, congerdesign, gyro / Canva

We've heard almost non-stop stories since 2020 about how burned out and overwhelmed teachers are, and how something seems to have shifted in recent years when it comes to kids at school.

If one teacher online is any indication, it seems like with the new school year, those trends are only ramping up even faster.

A musician and teacher says she and her colleagues are already burned out just weeks into the school year. 

Being a teacher is an exhausting and often drastically underpaid job under normal circumstances, let alone in our fraught political climate where they are routinely demonized, attacked legislatively, and blamed by parents for everything from behavioral problems to kids' queer identities.


Unsurprisingly, the rate of teacher resignations hit yet another all time high at the end of last school year.

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But a music teacher and musician known as @butterpunkk on TikTok says the overwhelm seems to have escalated this year, and she's not attributing it to the usual ills of low pay and a lack of professional support.


She says 'the kids are different,' and it's causing her and other teachers to reach a place of burnout months earlier than normal.

"The kids are different, the kids are a hundred percent different," she said bluntly in her TikTok. "Usually [second semester is] when I approach burnout, because we get Thanksgiving, we get Christmas, we get all these things." That hasn't been her experience this year, however. "I am burned out. It's September."



She went on to explain that it's not just her that's feeling the sting of burnout already. "You know what I'm talking about if you're teaching right now," she said. "I saw another teacher from another school across the street from our school walking to her car this afternoon, and she looked like she could barely walk to her car."

She then recounted a conversation with another teacher who's been in the profession for 34 years who told her, "I have never had it this hard."


The TikToker went on to say that lessons that used to take a day now seem to take a week, and behavioral problems that typically take a couple weeks to show up have now presented themselves immediately.

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Thankfully for her, it has also manifested in hilarious, if surprising ways. The usual early-year shyness has not been a thing this year, she says, and a recent recorder lesson she taught ended with her entire class making an off-color sound as a joke "in complete unison." Hey, at least they're funny when they're diabolical, right?

In her comments, other teachers gave their theories for what's going on, chalking up the out-of-control to everything from a lack of resources at school to parents who are working more than ever to that perennial villain: the cellphone.


What's going on with kids nowadays? There are several potential answers, but the most likely one is the most obvious. 

To repurpose a phrase, "it's the pandemic, stupid" — well, that and, yes, the phones, which have been linked in some studies to increased behavior problems in kids.

But the pandemic and everything that has gone on since have brought on all sorts of impacts on all of us. Life may have returned to some semblance of normalcy by now, but think about it for a minute: Has it actually returned to pre-2020 normalcy? Hardly. 

Our political turmoil has escalated, climate change has escalated, even sickness has escalated; it's not just your imagination that kids are constantly sick nowadays in a way that seems new, and that is in part due to how the pandemic impacted kids' developing immune systems

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And kids are absolutely impacted by societal issues like political turmoil and the constant terrifying news about climate change, even if they don't yet understand them. Children's mental health was already declining before 2020, so imagine what it's like now.

Plus, the CDC has already warned about the lasting mental and emotional on kids who lived through the earliest, most terrifying days of the pandemic. And when it comes to the littlest kids — those who were born slightly before or just born in 2020 — studies have already shown that, by and large, they are significantly behind when it comes to brain development

Why would older kids' developing brains be any different? And is any of this even that surprising given that we know that Covid itself impacts the brain?


Thankfully, in @butterpunkk's case, the impacts of all this on students seems to at least be kind of hilarious. But given how fraught the educational system in the United States is, it seems unlikely adequate resources will be allocated to this problem any time soon.

So those record-breaking waves of teacher resignations in recent years are unfortunately probably not going way.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.