Welcome to the EduVerse with ProfessorJBA. As a veteran teacher and educator, I’ve designed this advice column for parents and caregivers in an effort to inform them about the various roles and aspects of navigating the educational system. The goal of the EduVerse is to help parents and caregivers make informed decisions regarding their child(ren)’s education.
Working with parents and parent leaders, I hear a lot of parents give the same response when it comes to teacher burnout: “We understand, but what does teacher burnout have to do with me?”
Teachers are experiencing burnout at more alarming rates because as teaching and learning have improved and changed over the years, the policies that determine how we operate schools, which concern how much teachers are compensated, how curriculums are adapted and school resources, have not. Some say that teachers now are leaving the profession in under five years, which is crazy to think. When I first began teaching, veteran educators told me that it would take five years for me to really master all the moving parts of teaching, including pedagogy, learning styles, teaching methods and most importantly, classroom management.
One of the most common cases that all teachers can agree on are the tasks that teachers are required to do outside of teaching. Mostly, administrative things like collecting, analyzing and breaking down data, sometimes collected daily, weekly and monthly for each student, can be a lot for teachers when planning periods are periodically cut short.
Burnout for teachers throughout the year comes from several things, including understaffed schools, poor school funding, poor school culture, not enough planning time and lack of autonomy.
As a teacher, I can tell you that all of these things are certainly true. Many would state that dealing with difficult parents and classroom behavior issues are the leading causes of teacher burnout, and yet these things play a role too.
Teacher burnout cannot be simply cured by teachers doing self-care and taking needed days off. Self-care and managing the stress of teaching are things that teachers can do if they are a) paid a competitive and livable wage and b) are supported by school and district leadership.
Imagine if you are having an operation done and the doctor is having to perform the procedure without a team, proper planning or preparation or resources. You wouldn’t be so comfortable with placing your life and wellness in this doctor’s hands. I challenge parents to ask why we would allow children to be sent to schools week after week when teachers are working under stresses that can negatively impact the social, emotional development of students.
High workloads, poor working conditions, not having time to prepare or plan quality lessons for each learner topped with poorly designed professional learning environments is a recipe for disaster. Especially when you add in the springtime, and it gets closer to standardized testing and the end of school.
The culture of standardized testing is drenched in stress, anxiety and inequality. I believe it’s the biggest contributing factor to why teachers experience burnout halfway through the year. Parents often don’t realize the impact of burnout until test results come back in the next school year and we begin the cycle of business as usual for school again.
My advice to parents is to advocate for improved measures of collecting data that doesn’t place teachers at the helm of being solely responsible or overwhelmed with the responsibility of data systems.
Contact Indy Kids Winning reporter Jason B. Allen at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter ProfessorJBA.
Jason’s work is supported through a partnership between Indy Kids Winning and the Indianapolis Recorder. Visit indykidswinning.com to learn more.