Teacher burnout is real. Some teachers are already crashing and burning, and we are only in the first quarter of the school year. The coronavirus pandemic has made being an educator much more intense. Spoiler alert: remote learning is not less work. Teachers are learning a different way to deliver instruction, and even if they are teaching the same grade level as last year, lessons have to be adapted to fit the virtual format. Unfortunately, some school districts did not do a good job of supporting teachers in this area and left teachers to figure out the technology on their own. This is leading to teacher burnout which could lead to high turnover. Now, more than ever, we need to retain our teachers.
Administrators have a role in this situation. Administrators have to both be a model for work and life balance, and also provide the support teachers need so they can have a life outside of the job.
Administrator supports should include identifying issues teachers are facing, and finding a way to fix them or to support teachers if they can’t fix them. If a teacher is struggling to balance, the administrator should help the teacher make a plan or connect the teacher to other teachers who can support. Delegation is necessary or the administrator will burn out, too.
Administrators have to also model balance and self-care. This includes setting boundaries. If administrators don’t want teachers emailing around the clock, then administrators should not do this either. Administrators should stop shouting out teachers who are burning the midnight oil. That’s not healthy, and should not be uplifted as a standard. Administrators should find ways to avoid burning the midnight oil, also.
Work is always going to be there. A teacher with little left to give every day is not going to be a teacher that will be best for children. Administrators need to do a better job of supporting teachers from burning out.