There is a problem sweeping education that is serious and needs to be addressed. Teacher burnout is quietly spreading throughout the halls of schools everywhere, and yet it is like the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” rule. Nobody wants to admit it exists and actually do something to fix it. How do you fix something that is so widespread and massive? How do you address a problem that is not acknowledged as real?
If you are a teacher:
- Realize that you will never have enough hours in the day to do everything that needs to be done. You have to learn the art of prioritizing. Do those things that are important and resist the temptation to do that which is urgent.
- Collaborate and solicit all the help you can get. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. There are tons of resources at your fingertips on the web and in the minds of those you work with. Use them!
- Recognize your own worth. Every teacher has those days where they wonder if what they do really matters. It does! Educating kids is one of the greatest callings you can have on your life. What you do is shaping the hearts and minds of generations to come. You matter. Thanks for all you do and the sacrifices you make every day.
- I know the long hours you put in. I know the pressures you have coming at you from every side. Breathe….and take it one day at a time. Quit beating yourself up over mistakes you have made, and quit worrying about tomorrow. Just do your best today.
- When you are feeling stressed to the max, take time for yourself. Do something you like to do to unwind and refresh. If you don’t, you will have serious health consequences. Make taking care of yourself a priority so you can be fit for the challenge that teaching gives every educator.
If you are a Principal or Superintendent:
- Give your teachers the support they need. It is more than lip service. It is giving them the resources they need to do their jobs. This includes copy machines that work, fresh coffee every day, sanitary and fully functioning adult bathrooms, classrooms that are cleaned properly every night, etc. These are the little things that matter to teachers.
- Give teachers the manpower they need to support their efforts. This includes all the ancillary services…Special Ed, Nursing, Front Office, Security, House Keeping, Counseling, IT, Maintenance, etc. Having holes in any of these areas causes great stress on the team.
- Give teachers the recognition they so richly deserve. Find ways to celebrate them every day. The worst thing you can do is to take them for granted.
- Increase the pay for teachers. Public servants should all be paid more (in my humble opinion).
If you are a Parent or just an Adult in general:
- Treat teachers with TLC. They need to know that what they do matters, and that you appreciate them. Thank them every chance you get.
- Quit expecting teachers to be the parent for your kids. You have to support teachers and show respect for them, or the kids will reflect your poor attitudes at school, and you will reap the consequences of their bad behavior.
- Join the PTA. Get involved and give back both physically and financially. Every extra effort you give helps them focus on doing what they were hired to do…educate your kids.
If we all recognize the elephant in the room and address the issues, we can do something to stop the burnout trend. Losing good teachers are bad enough, but the great ones we lose are too costly to count.