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What’s the best way to tackle teacher burnout?


Two education researchers have some insights on the rising rates of teacher resignation and growing concerns for the future of the field.

Teachers have one of the most important roles in society, yet they have always been up against a host of challenges–both inside and outside of their classrooms.

From low wages, to extended hours, to the pressures of meeting the unique needs of each student, the profession demands that teachers not only provide a strong educational foundation, but also bring their whole selves to work each day they arrive at school.

Add in a global pandemic, and the challenges have only continued to grow.

Many educators have spent the last two years navigating online teaching and learning, rising student mental health crises, mounting requests from school administrators, concerns for their own physical wellbeing in the classroom, and much more. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 20% of teachers seek second jobs to compensate for their salaries.

Conversations surrounding teacher burnout are circulating in the news, with more teachers than ever before saying they are considering leaving the field for good. And when tragedy strikes, like the devastating mass shooting that occurred on May 24 at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, educators are often left navigating unthinkable moments of anguish for themselves, their students, and their communities at large.

So, where do we go from here?

Education experts Olivia Chi and Andrew Bacher-Hicks have some ideas about teacher burnout and how to uplift educators in a post-pandemic world. Chi is an assistant professor at Boston University Wheelock College of Education and Human Development where she focuses on the economics of education, educational leadership, and policy studies to reduce educational inequality. Bacher-Hicks is also an assistant professor at Wheelock where he specializes in K-12 education policy in the United States.

The pair recently published a working paper on Massachusetts teacher turnover during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their research, co-written by Wheelock postdoctoral associate Alexis Orellana, examined the obstacles this group of educators faced and improvements that could be made to ensure long-term retention and success in the field.

Here, Chi and Bacher-Hicks expand on some of these pandemic-induced pressures, and the areas where support is needed most:

Source: Katherine Gianni and Giana Carrozza for Boston University

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