The start of any school year is stressful… teachers want to make sure they are well planned; they make plans to implement strategies that will engage all students; they research a variety of resources that they can use to support learning; they reach out to parents to ensure that their students feel part of the classroom “family”; they explore new and innovative ways to share the learning; they prepare how to help students “catch up” and then move them forward; and let’s not forget about addressing their students’ social-emotional states as in-person school becomes steady but so does the Delta variant. The list of stressors goes on and on as teachers prepare to nourish and grow their students. Such a daunting task yet teachers are expected to accomplish it all.
Numerous accounts have documented how teachers feel and what they want/need. I think we probably know what is needed.
According to an essay published in EdWeek (Madeline Will, September 14, 2021, EdWeek Research Center), 60% of teachers indicated they suffered from job-related stress either frequently or always. And now, even though teachers are vaccinated and students are getting vaccinated, the fear and threat of another surge in cases, especially around the holidays, heightens the stress. Add that to the continuing concern about bridging the achievement gap and trying to address all the needs of the students and that’s the recipe for educator burnout, and more importantly, educator fatigue.
In May 2021, EducationWeek published a report on research compiled in March. They found that 54% of teachers are either somewhat or likely to leave the profession as compared to 34% to the same question pre-pandemic. 84% said that teaching is more stressful now than in the past.
The pandemic, however, is not the only stressor.
This same report indicated that teachers and administrators have different opinions about what impacts early teacher retirement. 11% of teachers felt that administrator support was key to retention; 35% of the administrators believed their support was central to retention. Only 27% of those administrators felt that reducing the ancillary “administrivia” was critical while 43% of the teachers felt those burdens substantially contributed to their early retirement plans.
Obviously, there are other factors that impact teacher hiring practices and retention. And, we do know that natural attribution plays a role but my point here is that if administrators can reduce the burdens that consistently plague teachers and offer them a life line to stay engaged, involved, and committed to the continued growth of the students, that sounds like a systems approach to me rather than a band aid approach to build teacher capacity. It’s a “win-win” situation for all!
So, instructional coaches, your role is front and center!
What are some strategies you can suggest to your administrators about "lightening the load" for teachers?