Burned out, demoralized, anxious, and exhausted – these are just a few terms that have been used to describe both teachers and leaders as they head into a new school year.

At The Learning Accelerator (TLA), we saw this issue emerging over a year ago. To surface potential strategies and solutions, we conducted a review of over 60 pieces of literature as well as a focus group and interviews with diverse leaders from across the country. These efforts uncovered a host of concrete strategies and resulted in the creation of a framework to help educators, leaders, and policymakers have concrete and actionable conversations about the wellbeing of the adults in their communities.

Beyond anecdotal evidence, the results of a survey conducted in January 2022 by the National Education Association (NEA) paints an even more bleak picture. Approximately 90% of the respondents reported burnout as a serious issue, and 55% indicated that they were considering either retiring early or leaving the profession altogether. Last June, an analysis from AFT and Hart Research Associates found a 34-point increase in teacher dissatisfaction since the start of the pandemic with workloads, working conditions, constant disruptions, and varying levels of support listed as contributing factors. More recently, an EdDive Brief identified politicians, parents, policy debates, and increasing curriculum restrictions as new sources of stress for teachers coming back to school.

This problem is not contained to just teachers. A recent report from RAND found that this problem also extends to school leaders. Secondary principals reported that attending to the wellbeing of the adults and students in their community has markedly contributed to their feelings of stress; and The School Superintendents Association (AASA) reported that 186 of the 500 largest districts in the country have experienced some level of superintendent turnover since the start of the pandemic.

Although no single solution exists, and not every suggestion will work, schools and districts need to identify strategies that can be successful within their unique contexts. To do this, we identified four areas for action:

  1. Actively listen to what adults need.
  2. Meet immediate, individual needs.
  3. Invest in long-term supports.
  4. Build an ongoing culture of care.  

Read the full article about strategies for educators by Beth Holland at The Learning Accelerator.