According to a recent survey conducted by the National Education Association, 90% of educators consider burnout a significant issue, with more than half of respondents indicating they may leave the profession earlier than planned. The pandemic has exacerbated teacher burnout, a problem that has persisted for many years.
The pandemic has made it harder for teachers to do their job. They had to quickly adjust from teaching in a classroom to teaching online, causing many of them to feel anxious. As a result, teachers need more help than usual.
Due to concerns about exposure to COVID-19, several teachers have quit or found new professions, while others have been absent. This has resulted in staffing shortages and existing teachers working longer hours with more demands, leading to a heavy workload. Additionally, many educators feel undervalued socially and by administrative staff.
Although many schools have resumed in-person learning for staff, parents, and students, the American education system remains affected by the pandemic. Students are struggling to catch up on months of missed learning, and disadvantaged students are experiencing noticeable gaps in their test scores. The academic setbacks impact teachers' mental health, with a 2022 Rand Corp. study revealing that teachers and principals report worse well-being than other working adults.
According to a National Education Association survey, educators provided Teachercertification.com with a list of actions to help alleviate teacher burnout.
#5. Fewer Paperwork Requirements
According to a survey, 90% of teachers favor the measure to reduce paperwork. This would help teachers concentrate more on their students' needs as paperwork often overwhelms them, covering everything from disciplinary problems to filling in for absent colleagues.
The teaching profession is heavily legislated. Special education teachers are subject to many laws, particularly the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This law necessitates that students with special needs have comprehensive records of their academic program.
#4. Hire More Support Staff
According to a survey conducted by the NEA, almost 92% of teachers support this measure. The survey also revealed that 55% of school teachers stated they are considering leaving education or retiring earlier than planned due to several reasons, including an increased stress level exacerbated by severe staff shortages. Interestingly, this percentage is almost double the figure found by NEA in a similar survey conducted in July 2020.
According to teachers, having more colleague support, including mentorship opportunities, would be highly beneficial. A study conducted by Ingersoll & Strong in 2011 found that mentorship from veteran educators can significantly help new teachers to grow, develop, and ultimately increase teacher retention rates.
#3. Provide Additional Mental Health/Behavioral Support for Students
Most teachers (94%) favor a measure that addresses student behavior issues because they believe it can help prevent burnout among staff. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in behavioral problems among students as they try to adjust to the disruptions in their academic and social lives. These behavioral issues and teacher fatigue have made creating an effective learning environment more difficult.
On-site support from counselors and social workers is crucial for aiding students with mental health and behavioral issues. It can also help reduce the burden on teachers, in addition to using resources and guides.
#2. Hire More Teachers
This measure has the support of 93% of teachers. In recent years, school districts nationwide have been struggling with staffing shortages. The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened these shortages.
A recent Institute of Education Sciences study in June 2022 revealed that 62% of public schools face difficulties hiring staff to fill vacant positions. The highest number of vacancies were reported in special education and elementary school teaching positions, with 47% and 45%, respectively, remaining unfilled across the country.
Due to severe shortages, several rural school districts in Texas have switched to a four-day school week. This is done to tackle retention problems and difficulties in employing new teachers. Many rural districts are adopting the four-day school week to avoid staff exhaustion and remain competitive in the job market. However, the impact of this change on learning outcomes has not been clearly determined.
To attract more teachers, some states, including California, allow individuals pursuing teaching careers to skip basic skills testing if they have completed qualifying college courses and give them more time to take the required tests for teaching certifications.
#1. Raise Educator Salaries
According to a report by the NEA released in 2022, the average annual salary for educators during the 2021-22 school year is $66,432. This is an increase of $10,000 from the previous year. However, when adjusted for inflation, this still represents a decrease in earnings of $2,150. Additionally, it is worth noting that wages are not keeping up with inflation in most industries, which is also true for teachers' salaries. Furthermore, around 96% of teachers support the measure under consideration.
In March 2018, a nine-school-day strike in West Virginia led to K-12 classroom closures across the state's 55 counties. The teachers were protesting for higher pay and highlighting the difficulties they face in ensuring that their students attain good educational results. The strike ended following an increase in teachers' wages by 5%, as announced by the governor.