- Teacher prep programs must prepare prospective educators with more than classroom knowledge for long-term success, equipping them also with self-preservation and self-care skills, Lina Darwich and Alisun Thompson, both teacher educators at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, write for Edutopia.
- Similar to the "3 Rs" of learning, the two teacher educators developed their own "3 Rs" for new teachers to aspire to: Building “relationships to reenergize you,” finding “rituals to restore you,” and having "reasons to remind you” why you chose the teaching profession in the first place.
- The duo also suggest school faculty members must be compassionate toward themselves as much as they are toward others, find joy in both their professional and personal lives to continue to growing, and seek ways to have a say in decision-making at their schools.
While teacher shortages predated the COVID-19 pandemic, the widespread disruption and resulting transition to remote learning created longer workdays for teachers, according to a March survey of California educators. The data showed 59% of teacher respondents felt the public misunderstood their workloads, and 20% said they spent more time figuring out online platforms.
This all leads to teacher burnout, which can affect student outcomes. To ease the pressure, school administrators can build time into the day to allow teachers to reconnect and collaborate with their coworkers. Programs like Second Step SEL for Adults are also specifically designed to provide guidance to school communities for supporting K-12 teachers.
Severe substitute teacher shortages forced school districts in Washington state and Colorado to cancel classes last Friday, following Veteran’s Day, after so many teachers requested the day off. Teachers had cited intense levels of burnout and mental health concerns as part of the reason they needed a four-day break.
And the problem is expected to get worse. A Rand Corporation survey released in June found a quarter of teachers are likely to leave their jobs by the end of the school year.
Stephanie Burroughs, a K-12 curriculum leader and administrator in Massachusetts, wrote in an article for ASCD that to improve retention and prevent shortages, teachers must be valued. Among her suggestions: building prep and grading time into teachers’ schedules, and guaranteeing student loan debt forgiveness if teachers remain in a district for a certain amount of time. Districts can also advocate for funding increases to pay teachers more.