Teacher 'On The Cusp Of Burnout' Gets Gaslighted When She Talks To Her Boss About Being Overwhelmed

They all think she's overreacting, but something's gotta give.

woman who doesn't know how to tell her boss she's overwhelmed Yuri Arcurs / Peopleimages.com / Canva Pro

Most of us have been there at one time or another — that moment when we feel spread way too thin at our jobs, and it starts to take its toll. But what if we speak up and end up the office problem child?

That's the dilemma one teacher on Reddit faces, especially since her colleagues are less than supportive.

The teacher doesn't know how to tell her boss she's overwhelmed and 'on the cusp of burnout.'

In a way, this is a surprising problem because burnout has reached epidemic proportions among American workers. A study by HR research firm Mercer found that more than 80% of workers worldwide are approaching burnout at work — and for teachers, the situation is even worse.


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Of course, relations with colleagues and bosses are all too often part of what causes burnout in the first place. This teacher is caught in that exact crossfire, and it's got her "beginning to teeter on the cusp of burnout at my school."


Her responsibilities have increased a lot, but both her boss and colleagues gaslight her about her workload.

"When I started at my school, I was grateful to have a good placement," she wrote, especially since she had more prep time, a nicer classroom, and smaller class sizes than at the schools where she previously worked.

Her workload was a bit heavy from the start, however. "But I didn’t mind because I didn’t want to seem ungrateful for all the prep I was given." The current school year has changed everything, though, and it's got her totally overwhelmed



"I was assigned to be a homeroom teacher (not my choice), adding more to my workload compared to the other teachers," she said. "I’m obligated to choose my homeroom duties over my actual job title. Now I’m assigned to work on the big graduating class project, and it’s too much."


But every time she's tried to talk to her boss about the problem, "I get gaslighted," and she doesn't feel like she can go to her colleagues for support, either. 

"The other teachers often joke about how I have more prep time than them, so they don’t understand why I feel burnt out. Any advice?"

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HR experts say telling your boss you're overwhelmed is all about specificity and a willingness to advocate for yourself.

These conversations can definitely be difficult to initiate for those of us who worry about appearing weak or problematic, especially when we have a boss who isn't exactly receptive and denies there's even a problem. 


HR experts say that the first step is to confront these fears and recognize that you're entitled to speak your mind, ask for help, and have your load lightened. Most bosses will be amenable to your feelings if you're clear and detailed about the problem.

Teacher Asks How To Tell Her Boss She's Overwhelmed & Burned OutPhoto: atlasstudio / Canva Pro

This leads to experts' other important recommendation: Be as specific and clear as possible about what exactly is making your workload unmanageable. Simply saying, "I'm overwhelmed," might not cut it, but a specific list of the duties and expectations causing the feeling of burnout will.  


One fellow teacher on Reddit recommended the teacher take a week to keep a log of how her time is spent and "add notes about labor that is unseen, such as mental labor like planning or emotional labor. Be precise…because people don't always know."



Experts say acknowledging how your burnout might be impacting your colleagues and workplace as a whole is also a helpful detail to include. Offering potential solutions to the problem is important, too, because some bosses might not know how to help if they don't have an intricate knowledge of your position.

"Come prepared with solutions and show that the meeting is goal-oriented," HR expert Dr. Ryan Tiffen recommends. "Your boss will likely appreciate your proactivity and that you know what could help you be happy in your workplace again."


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