Mindfulness for Educators: Compassion Fatigue

fatigue teacher

As educators, we often gain a great deal of satisfaction from our ability to help others.  It’s a good thing to find fulfillment in our work, but it’s important to know there can sometimes be a “high cost of caring”.  According to the authors of The Distance Learning Playbook, “Compassion fatigue is a combination of physical, emotional, and spiritual depletion associated with the trauma-related work we do where others are in significant emotional pain or physical distress” (Fisher et. al., 2021). The self-assessment tool below has been developed for use by educators and can help you determine if you are feeling something beyond typical work stress or burnout. 

Compassion Fatigue Inventory - The Distance Learning Playbook     
Personal concerns commonly intrude on my professional role. Yes No
My colleagues seem to lack understanding. Yes No
I find even small changes enormously draining. Yes No
I can’t seem to recover quickly after association with trauma. Yes No
My students’ stress affects me deeply. Yes No
I have lost my sense of hopefulness. Yes No
I feel vulnerable all the time. Yes No
I feel overwhelmed by unfinished personal business. Yes No

Source:  Used with permission from Overcoming Compassion Fatigue, Apr. 2000, Vol. 7, No. 4, Family Practice Management. Copyright © 2000 American Academy of Family Physicians. All rights reserved.

Continually caring for others without replenishing yourself can quickly become overwhelming and lead to compassion fatigue (Thurrott, 2021). If you see yourself in the behaviors above, please seek help. Check out the resources below for additional information and ways to follow-up.


Ewing, S. (2021, June 9). Compassion Fatigue is overwhelming educators during the pandemic. Education Week. Retrieved November 28, 2022, from https://www.edweek.org/teaching-learning/opinion-compassion-fatigue-is-overwhelming-educators-during-the-pandemic/2021/06.  

Fisher, D., Frey, N., & Hattie, J. (2021). The Distance Learning Playbook, grades K-12: Teaching for engagement & impact in any setting. Corwin.