Julie Thomas, Ed.S., School Psychologist & Professional Learning Consultant for SEBH
In a national survey conducted by Lexia, a Cambium Learning® Group company, results showed 71% of the educators surveyed were worried about teacher burnout during the 2022-23 school year. Burnout is a temporary state where individuals have exhausted their personal and organizational resources in fulfilling their professional duties. We know that educators can face high emotional demands in their daily work. Burnout could become a reality if educational environments lack appropriate organizational support.
An EdResearch for Recovery Brief (Oct 2021) by Doris A. Santoro and Olga Acosta Price posed the following question: What does the research say about structural supports that enable teacher well-being? One of the strategies outlined found that teachers reported higher levels of satisfaction when school leaders protected teachers’ time and prioritized teachers’ growth with professional learning opportunities. Another strategy showed improvement in teacher morale and student achievement when teachers were involved in the design and implementation of learning opportunities. A common theme across all of the strategies linked to the well-being of teachers was the open communication that is integral to developing and sustaining relational trust amongst educators.
Whether it is a staff meeting or a professional learning day, there are practices we can engage in to provide a safe and supportive learning environment. We know that adult learning is connected to making behavior changes. In order to support those changes, leaders can provide opportunities for educators to bring their experiences to the conversation and connect with colleagues in ways that enable them to make meaning of the work. This relates back to providing time for educators to grow and be involved in decision-making, which can help raise educator morale and job satisfaction to combat burnout.
There are several ways to support educator well-being through open communication. Inspiring stories from within organizations can be shared through newsletters or other sources. Optional self-care activities can be offered for consideration by staff. Creating spaces within an organization for quiet and comfort can help rejuvenate someone who needs a moment for a break. Acknowledging when things are hard and providing time for voices to be heard may also facilitate growth and understanding.
Prioritizing educator well-being requires long-term commitments for change and growth. However, there are many ways educators can support the social and emotional well-being of one another on a daily basis.
“Try to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.” ~Maya Angelou