It’s no secret that educators across the U.S and around the world are doing heroic work in less-than-ideal circumstances. Educators and administrators are working hard to meet the needs of students affected by a global pandemic. However, health and safety issues, staffing shortages, and disruptive student behaviors are causing significant stress. What are the implications of this on teachers’ wellbeing? And how can school leaders take steps to provide meaningful support for their teachers? Here are the findings from our recent survey.
What Unexpected School Closures Tell Us About Teacher Needs
In November 2021, TpT surveyed 6,000 U.S. educators serving grades PreK-12. The results show burnout is a real concern and school districts are taking steps to support teachers, including closing schools for the entire week of Thanksgiving. Half (52%) of teachers who responded to the survey reported their school was closing for the full week of Thanksgiving and 12% of those teachers said this was an unplanned closure. Of those whose schools were closing unexpectedly, most said it was to support teacher wellness.
Closing schools to address teacher wellness is an unprecedented move by many districts. For almost 16,000 schools to change their calendars is further proof that this is yet another extraordinary school year. The work-related stress is so significant that nearly half (48%) of TpT survey respondents reported they have considered a job-related change, including 34% that said they’ve considered changing careers in the past month, up from 23% in an August 2020 TpT poll. The NEA reported similar findings in summer 2021 that showed 32% of their members surveyed said the pandemic has led them to plan to leave the profession earlier than they anticipated. And these findings show a growing trend, as a January 2021 RAND report found 23 percent of teachers reported that they were likely to leave their current teaching jobs by the end of the 2020–2021 school year.
Providing Meaningful Support for Teachers
Messages of self-care for teachers are insufficient without also providing more resources, better tools, and more time. Unfortunately, educators can’t simply meditate their way out of this crisis.
Survey participants shared additional ways that administrators can support teachers, including:
- Providing a budget to purchase materials
- Addressing student behaviors
- Listening to teachers’ concerns
- Providing more planning and collaboration time
School and district leaders recognize that to recruit and retain teachers and principals, they need to innovate and provide more support. Offering days off to ensure teachers and staff can recharge is just one measure. Bonuses and pay raises as a goodwill gesture are becoming more common. Creating feedback loops to meaningfully listen to educators, students, families, and community partners is another vital strategy. A watershed moment like this provides an opportunity to think long-term and re-imagine how schools can get better, more equitable results for students and continue to attract talent.
Teachers and administrators value collaboration and the opportunity to learn from each other. At TpT we know that unlocking the collective wisdom of teachers empowers them to teach at their best. TpT’s community includes 85% of U.S. teachers and over 7 million educators worldwide. By engaging this vast and unique community, TpT shines a light on the needs of educators and solutions that work. Look for more data, insights, and inspiration to come as TpT continues to amplify the voices of educators.