It’s Not On Teachers to Reduce Burnout, It’s On Our Schools
From the Bored Teachers website, this piece about nine steps that can be taken by districts to help reduce teacher burnout.
It’s no secret teaching is a tough gig. No potential future teacher goes into college, thinking, “Hey, I’ll choose teaching. That’s an easy, well-paid job!” We’ve known for eons that teaching is challenging and won’t make anyone rich. However, potential and current educators are finally saying “enough!” and we’re in the midst of a serious teacher shortage. Significant changes are needed to stop teacher burnout and entice new teachers to join (and stay in) the field.
Here are 9 crucial changes needed to reduce teacher burnout, and stop the teacher shortage.
1. Make teacher salary more competitive.
Teachers must earn bachelor’s degrees at minimum to obtain a teaching position, which is a big “duh,” but in some places, master’s degrees are required. Comparable fields that require the same amount of schooling pay considerably far more than teaching. According to Money.com, teachers earn 18.7% less than workers in comparable fields. If you need money to live (spoiler alert: you do), this isn’t good news. Why get a teaching degree when you can put in the same time and effort in another field and make significantly more money?
2. Help teachers eliminate student loan debt.
Speaking of salary, a good chunk of it goes to paying off student loan debt. Unless you’re somehow magical (if so, please teach us your ways, sensei) or you received a large inheritance, most people need to take out student loans to attend college, especially when getting advanced degrees. Depending on how much of your schooling you had to finance, beginning teacher salaries often don’t support individuals paying back their loans
3. Create a culture that makes it acceptable for teachers to only work contract hours.
In case anyone was still confused, teachers DO NOT just work from 9 to 3 or whatever hours the students attend school. Lesson plans, prepared materials, and graded work doesn’t just magically land on teacher desks each day. Most of that is done on evenings, weekends, and school breaks. Teachers who try to create boundaries and only work their contracted hours are often shamed. The workload and actual working hours required to manage that load needs to be overhauled from the top or teacher burnout will continue.