Sunday, October 20, 2013

Teacher burn out/turnover

This year, perhaps more than any other year I am hearing teachers across the country voicing their fears about burning out.  These fears are coming from experienced teachers who are considering giving up the ship in the face of the rising tide of changes.

1.  Federally mandated changes to teacher evaluation systems that MUST include test scores
2.  Test prep for the next generation of online tests for CCSS. (PARCC has not produced a practice test, yet schools could be accountable for the scores on the field test this spring)
3.  Still being accountable for a state test based on frameworks that have been replaced by CCSS.
4.  Technology demands of CCSS despite lack of current technology in many schools.
5.  Prep time lacking for making these important changes

While the new teacher attrition rate has been high in recent years, with 46% of new teachers leaving the profession within 5 years, experienced teachers are also expressing burn out fatigue at an alarming rate. Poor, rural, and inner city schools tend to suffer the most.  Burnout as defined by  Susanne Carter (1994) is "physical, emotional, and attitudinal exhaustion that begins with a feeling of uneasiness and mounts as the joy of teaching begins to gradually slip away."

Schools need to encourage their teachers to find a healthy balance between their teaching lives and their lives outside of school to prevent the rising tide of stressful changes from washing these experienced teachers out of our schools. During this Connected Educator month, we need to consider what it means to be continually connected to our work at home, at the ballpark, and at other times and paces when we should be seeking rest and balance instead.

Disconnecting is difficult. Perhaps we need to discuss this important topic within our schools.  Is this a topic discussed in your school?

Carter, S. (1994). Teacher stress and burnout. Organizing systems to support competent social behavior in children and youth. Eugene, OR: Western Regional Resource Center. 

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