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A mass walkout is taking place across the country among teachers. School districts are struggling to fill teacher vacancies, and substitutes are hard to come by. Those who stay sacrifice preparation time and have to take on extra students and tasks.

Teachers mopping floors, vice principals doing yard work, and counselors doing lunch duty are no longer a surprise: it's become a vicious cycle of exhaustion and destruction. The cycle makes it worse for the educators who stay after others burn out and leave.

According to a Gallup Poll conducted in February 2022, educators are the most burned-out group in the US workforce. The number of teachers resigning has risen to hundreds of thousands, with many pledging never to return.

In March, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reported that 44% of public schools have teaching vacancies, while June saw almost 41% more teachers quit than a year earlier, according to LinkedIn. Let's discuss more below.

Reasons Contributing to the Teacher Burnout

Teachers' burnout goes beyond distracted students, low pay, helicopter parents, and broken technology. Chronic workplace stress is a significant contributor to the crisis, and there seems to be little progress in finding solutions. Teacher burnout can slowly change a teacher's positive attitude and optimism.

The first sign could be low self-esteem created by low standardized test scores. After that, other issues, such as student behavior, insufficient school funding, or lack of support, can pile on, causing more undue stress for teachers.

Today, teacher burnout is most commonly caused by the following:

  • COVID burnout complications
  • Insufficient funding for schools
  • Unachievable testing standards
  • Behavioral issues in the classroom
  • Unsafe work environment
  • Lack of time for planning
  • Having an unappreciated feeling
  • Lack of independence
  • Managing difficult parents

The National Education Association defines teacher burnout as a condition in which an educator has exhausted personal and professional resources. It's not only about the skills needed for effective instruction.

Why Do Teachers Have Low Salaries?

During 2021, the pay gap between teachers and nonteachers reached a record 23.5%, according to a new study by the Economic Policy Institute. Over the years, the teacher pay penalty has worsened. It also undermines teacher retention and recruitment, a problem that has been aggravated by COVID-19.

According to researchers, this problem cannot be attributed to one single cause, and there is no national answer to this question. Depending on the market structure in a state, this is a systemic problem that needs to be addressed differently. However, some reasons include:

  • Wage stagnation: The main reason for low teacher salaries is stagnant wages that have not kept up with inflation.
  • Benefits Argument: Several critics claim teachers earn considerably more benefits than private-sector employees, adding to their shorter hours and summer breaks.
  • Undervalued profession: A great contributor to low salaries for teachers is the incorrect belief that it is "easy" to teach. This belief has led to the misconception that teaching is not as difficult as other jobs with the same education. A teacher's role in education has been overlooked and undervalued.
  • Lack of public funds for teachers: Despite public funding going to education, teacher pay has barely improved. Because teachers' salaries are so low, to begin with, any immediate increase would seem under-compensated. Furthermore, the National Centre for Education Statistics estimates that there are roughly 3.5 million teachers in the United States. It is, therefore, difficult to resolve this problem immediately.

  • Traditionally dominated by women: When women first entered the workforce, they had limited options and were forced to teach. According to some experts, sexism and the male-female wage gap play a role in teachers' low pay since teaching is a female-dominated profession.
  • Low salary levels in different states: States have different market structures, which might explain the low pay. A teacher in Oklahoma, for instance, earns less than $40,000–the state pays the lowest wages in the country. By comparison, Massachusetts teachers make over $80,000 on average. Therefore, these salaries differ from state to state for various local reasons.

Why Are Schools Unsafe Working Environments?

Teachers work in a challenging environment known as a "school climate." Some challenges include:

  • Unprepared students showing up to school
  • Parents struggling to be involved in their children's lives
  • A rising poverty rate, bringing with it more threats to their safety, a lack of supportive relationships, and a lack of autonomy
  • The public investment being insufficient
  • Safety threats faced by teachers

Adding to the stress, teachers often report that they conflict with administrators and fellow teachers and lack support. There is little respect for the skill and judgment of teachers, as almost two-thirds say they have little influence over what they teach.

Consequences of the Teacher Exodus

Leaving the classroom would have far-reaching consequences for teachers, students, and society. The health and well-being of teachers play an important role in societal productivity, health costs, and social capital, all of which are strongly influenced by teacher-student relationships.

Teachers who stay face burnout and high turnover, making building and maintaining relationships with students and other faculty members difficult. In the absence of positive relationships between teachers and students, both learning and well-being suffer.

A disruption in students' learning could have long-term effects on the ability of young people to contribute to society and thrive. Moreover, teachers significantly impact children's emotional and mental health. There is a correlation between lower depression rates and higher self-esteem among students with supportive teachers.

The pandemic compromised teachers' ability to provide quality education and affected students' mental health. The separation of students from their teachers and peers was a significant challenge. In terms of student outcomes and overall health, teachers can make a difference.

Are There Any Solutions to the Teacher Resignation Crisis?

If they want to improve students' educational experiences, school administrators and policymakers must first listen to teachers' voices. For teachers to avoid burnout, writing a leave of absence letter might be one way to reset. But many say higher wages, more staff, and less paperwork are necessary. As more long-lasting fixes, those in power need to improve school climates, pay disparities, and other factors that discourage teachers from entering the profession.

The working environment requires policy interventions and institutional decisions. For example, it is essential to channel resources and assistance to teachers who persist despite the stress and physical threats, lack of influence over their syllabus, lack of administration support, and low appreciation. After all, these experienced teachers who've managed to stick with it should be the foundation of a stronger education system.

High-poverty schools and teachers require extra funding and resources to increase student achievement and reduce teacher shortages. This way, we'll see fewer teachers looking for a teacher resignation letter template.

Start your Teacher Resignation Letter now

Helpful Resources:

Gallup - K-12 Workers Have Highest Burnout Rate in U.S.

NCES - U.S. Schools Report Increased Teacher Vacancies Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

Economic Policy Institute - The teacher pay penalty has hit a new high

A mass walkout is taking place across the country among teachers. School districts are struggling to fill teacher vacancies, and substitutes are hard to come by. Those who stay sacrifice preparation time and have to take on extra students and tasks.

Teachers mopping floors, vice principals doing yard work, and counselors doing lunch duty are no longer a surprise: it's become a vicious cycle of exhaustion and destruction. The cycle makes it worse for the educators who stay after others burn out and leave.

According to a Gallup Poll conducted in February 2022, educators are the most burned-out group in the US workforce. The number of teachers resigning has risen to hundreds of thousands, with many pledging never to return.

In March, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reported that 44% of public schools have teaching vacancies, while June saw almost 41% more teachers quit than a year earlier, according to LinkedIn. Let's discuss more below.

Reasons Contributing to the Teacher Burnout

Teachers' burnout goes beyond distracted students, low pay, helicopter parents, and broken technology. Chronic workplace stress is a significant contributor to the crisis, and there seems to be little progress in finding solutions. Teacher burnout can slowly change a teacher's positive attitude and optimism.

The first sign could be low self-esteem created by low standardized test scores. After that, other issues, such as student behavior, insufficient school funding, or lack of support, can pile on, causing more undue stress for teachers.

Today, teacher burnout is most commonly caused by the following:

  • COVID burnout complications
  • Insufficient funding for schools
  • Unachievable testing standards
  • Behavioral issues in the classroom
  • Unsafe work environment
  • Lack of time for planning
  • Having an unappreciated feeling
  • Lack of independence
  • Managing difficult parents

The National Education Association defines teacher burnout as a condition in which an educator has exhausted personal and professional resources. It's not only about the skills needed for effective instruction.

Why Do Teachers Have Low Salaries?

During 2021, the pay gap between teachers and nonteachers reached a record 23.5%, according to a new study by the Economic Policy Institute. Over the years, the teacher pay penalty has worsened. It also undermines teacher retention and recruitment, a problem that has been aggravated by COVID-19.

According to researchers, this problem cannot be attributed to one single cause, and there is no national answer to this question. Depending on the market structure in a state, this is a systemic problem that needs to be addressed differently. However, some reasons include:

  • Wage stagnation: The main reason for low teacher salaries is stagnant wages that have not kept up with inflation.
  • Benefits Argument: Several critics claim teachers earn considerably more benefits than private-sector employees, adding to their shorter hours and summer breaks.
  • Undervalued profession: A great contributor to low salaries for teachers is the incorrect belief that it is "easy" to teach. This belief has led to the misconception that teaching is not as difficult as other jobs with the same education. A teacher's role in education has been overlooked and undervalued.
  • Lack of public funds for teachers: Despite public funding going to education, teacher pay has barely improved. Because teachers' salaries are so low, to begin with, any immediate increase would seem under-compensated. Furthermore, the National Centre for Education Statistics estimates that there are roughly 3.5 million teachers in the United States. It is, therefore, difficult to resolve this problem immediately.

  • Traditionally dominated by women: When women first entered the workforce, they had limited options and were forced to teach. According to some experts, sexism and the male-female wage gap play a role in teachers' low pay since teaching is a female-dominated profession.
  • Low salary levels in different states: States have different market structures, which might explain the low pay. A teacher in Oklahoma, for instance, earns less than $40,000–the state pays the lowest wages in the country. By comparison, Massachusetts teachers make over $80,000 on average. Therefore, these salaries differ from state to state for various local reasons.

Why Are Schools Unsafe Working Environments?

Teachers work in a challenging environment known as a "school climate." Some challenges include:

  • Unprepared students showing up to school
  • Parents struggling to be involved in their children's lives
  • A rising poverty rate, bringing with it more threats to their safety, a lack of supportive relationships, and a lack of autonomy
  • The public investment being insufficient
  • Safety threats faced by teachers

Adding to the stress, teachers often report that they conflict with administrators and fellow teachers and lack support. There is little respect for the skill and judgment of teachers, as almost two-thirds say they have little influence over what they teach.

Consequences of the Teacher Exodus

Leaving the classroom would have far-reaching consequences for teachers, students, and society. The health and well-being of teachers play an important role in societal productivity, health costs, and social capital, all of which are strongly influenced by teacher-student relationships.

Teachers who stay face burnout and high turnover, making building and maintaining relationships with students and other faculty members difficult. In the absence of positive relationships between teachers and students, both learning and well-being suffer.

A disruption in students' learning could have long-term effects on the ability of young people to contribute to society and thrive. Moreover, teachers significantly impact children's emotional and mental health. There is a correlation between lower depression rates and higher self-esteem among students with supportive teachers.

The pandemic compromised teachers' ability to provide quality education and affected students' mental health. The separation of students from their teachers and peers was a significant challenge. In terms of student outcomes and overall health, teachers can make a difference.

Are There Any Solutions to the Teacher Resignation Crisis?

If they want to improve students' educational experiences, school administrators and policymakers must first listen to teachers' voices. For teachers to avoid burnout, writing a leave of absence letter might be one way to reset. But many say higher wages, more staff, and less paperwork are necessary. As more long-lasting fixes, those in power need to improve school climates, pay disparities, and other factors that discourage teachers from entering the profession.

The working environment requires policy interventions and institutional decisions. For example, it is essential to channel resources and assistance to teachers who persist despite the stress and physical threats, lack of influence over their syllabus, lack of administration support, and low appreciation. After all, these experienced teachers who've managed to stick with it should be the foundation of a stronger education system.

High-poverty schools and teachers require extra funding and resources to increase student achievement and reduce teacher shortages. This way, we'll see fewer teachers looking for a teacher resignation letter template.

Start your Teacher Resignation Letter now

Helpful Resources:

Gallup - K-12 Workers Have Highest Burnout Rate in U.S.

NCES - U.S. Schools Report Increased Teacher Vacancies Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

Economic Policy Institute - The teacher pay penalty has hit a new high