Physically and mentally exhausted, disheveled, overwhelmed…..these are the adjectives I would use to describe how I typically feel at the end of facilitating an Administrator’s Academy or workshop.  After countless hours of prepwork, copies, and slide preparation the days and weeks before having to be “on” for 6-8 hours straight when 4:00 comes around I can’t wait to kick off my heels and head home for some family cuddle time on the couch.  Does this scenario sound familiar? I am sure it resonates with many of us, as educators, although instead of facilitating an Academy you are teaching today’s youth and providing them opportunities to inquire, learn from their mistakes, be curious, and collaborate. 

Although this feeling of fatigue is one that resonates with many, I want you to know that it doesn’t have to be your reality at the end of the day.  In fact, last Tuesday was the first time I had delivered an Administrator Academy and didn’t go straight home to the couch (Yes, I did kick my heels off still haha)!!! 

So why was Tuesday different?  

Did I change my teaching/facilitation practices?….NOPE  

Did I “work smarter not harder”?….NOPE 

Was I more prepared?…..NOPE

Did I have less “students?…..NOPE

It was different because the entire second half of the day focused on and provided excercises (that can be done in every school and district) to support and address educators’ physical, behavioral, and psychological well being.

As educators we address students’ psychological, behavioral, and physical needs all day long, but when are we addressing our own needs and the needs of our colleagues? Last Tuesday I ran an academy that focused on teacher compassion fatigue and burnout. During the discussion we talked about how, yes we are in our profession for students so it wasn’t surprising that our resources and interventions were for our students, but I also challenge them to change the narrative – we are in this world for humans!  What are we doing to support our colleagues and ourselves? How are we addressing the behavioral, physical, and psychological needs throughout all stakeholders??

Compassion Fatigue and Burnout are real but with proper support or interventions can be prevented and repaired.  But what is the difference? How do you support your colleagues who may be suffering or more susceptible to the effects of compassion fatigue and burnout??    


“Cumulative process marked by emotional exhaustion and withdrawal associated with increased workload and institutional stress, NOT trauma-related.”                                                            Compassion Fatigue.” The American Institute of Stress. N.p., 04 Jan. 2017. Web. 26 Nov. 2019.

  • Symptoms usually have a gradual onset
  • NOT a simple result of long hours
  • Associated with:
    • Feeling that your efforts make no difference
    • Difficulties in dealing with work or doing your job effectively
    • A very high workload
    • A non-supportive work environment

Compassion Fatigue:

“Also called “vicarious traumatization” or secondary traumatization (Figley, 1995). The emotional residue or strain of exposure to working with those suffering from the consequences of traumatic events.” Compassion Fatigue.” The American Institute of Stress. N.p., 04 Jan. 2017. Web. 26 Nov. 2019

  • Suffering the secondary trauma from supporting victims of trauma
  • Impact people physically, behaviorally & psychologically
  • Results from absorbing and internalizing the emotions, pain, and suffering of others

Emotional exhaustion

There are several self-assessments that I utilize throughout the workshop where participants self-assess their symptoms and risk of burnout and compassion fatigue (Empath survey, ProQOL, ACEs, etc.) but regardless of what our scores are on these self-assessments, it is important that we take time for self-care so that we can show up each day to work being the best educator we can be.  

I would love to go into all the amazing physical, psychological, and behavioral resources that can be implemented within your building/district, but without the opportunity to experience these suggestions I feel they would be lost in translation and not as effective.  

Here are a few of the responses from the participants last week that describe the experience I walked them through:

  • “I have already used some of the activities from the afternoon with my department.”
  • Best part of the academy – “Learning the difference between compassion fatigue/burnout. I feel much more informed!” – “Personalized nature, collaboration with colleagues, application of tools and strategies in the moment”
  • “Loved the Tips”   “Very Therapeutic” 

Please let  me know if you would like more information or have me come to work with you and/or your team on how to implement 5 min. of self care a day IN THE WORKPLACE to see changes in staff behaviors, emotions, and attitudes.  

I hope you take time during this Thanksgiving season for some self-care and to reflect on all you have to be thankful for.


Katie Algrim – Director of Innovative Professional Learning

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