K-12 Teacher Webinar - Understanding Teacher Burnout in US Schools

October 25, 2022

elementary school teacher sits at desk talking to a group of 6 students gathered around

Understanding Teacher Burnout in US Schools is the first of a webinar series that examines the critical topic of teacher burnout from a variety of viewpoints including educators, administrators, policymakers, and even psychologists. Dr. Beth Tuckwiller is an Associate Professor of Special Education and Disability Studies at the Graduate School of Education and Human Development. In this webinar, she shares insight into the impacts and solutions to this critical issue in today's education.

Teacher stress and burnout go hand in hand. Stress is when there’s a significant strain in one or more of life domains that causes emotional and physical tension, or to simply put it, when there’s too much to do and focus on. Burnout is when there’s not enough left in us–a work oriented construct of experiences that lead us to emotional depletion. Teachers in the K-12 space are at high risk to experience the burnout cascade. Burnout can be somewhat expected by what’s happening around the individual. 1. Exposure to chronic, unmanaged stress. 2. Unsuccessful attempts to reduce stressors. 3. Increasing exhaustion/depletion. 4. Increasing depersonalization; “checking out”. 5. Decreasing efficacy. 

So what should teachers do? Self-care. The idea that if we get more sleep, if we engage in mediation or mindfulness, that we can stave off stress and burnout. It works for some people, but in the current landscape of education, it doesn’t work for everyone. There are deeper systemic issues in teacher burnout such as the lack of staff and the need for increased salaries. But who is creating these narratives and is the narrative correct? There are many people in the public eye that feel entitled commenting on teacher issues. Teacher’s voices have not been at the focus for the root issues educators are experiencing right now. Until solutions center teachers’ voices and respond to their expressed needs, systems will continue to burn teachers out. 

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