Teacher frustration and burn out was a thing before the Pandemic. Now?! “Why Education Is About To Reach A Crisis Of Epic Proportions”
In a recent FORBES article, the writer, Marc C. Perna, addresses Pandemic related and significant teacher stress. He cites the following:
- A “vicious cycle” about increased demands on teachers undercutting teacher effectiveness, which in turn causes more problems and therefore more demands to address.
- Promoting self-care and positivity is not only insufficient, but counter productive
- A major recommendation is for administration to reduce the number of items on the plate of teachers – free up time for “mission-critical tasks.”
- We as a nation are facing significant “fallout” from this crisis
Teacher Schedule and Tasks
The point he doesn’t appear to explicitly cite is the pre Pandemic situation was already a version of what we see now. Teachers spend at least 75% of their work day in front of students. That leaves at most 25% of the work day to do the following “mission-critical” tasks.
- Develop effective lesson plans
- Create artifacts and activities for those lesson plans
- Researching or seeking out ideas for lessons, activities, or artifacts for classroom management, lessons, assessment, classroom set up
- Grade papers
- Entering grades
- Email parents
- Analyze data for intervention and differentiation
- Create artifacts and activities for the intervention and differentiation
- Implement special education accommodations and modifications
- Incidental and informal collaboration with other teachers
Those are the daily activities. There are other “mission-critical” activities that occur periodically.
- Grading tests or projects
- Parent phone calls
- Attending IEP meetings
- Revising curriculum and formal planning with other teachers
- Creating projects
- Meeting with students (daily or almost daily for many teachers)
Time wise, the best scenario is a teacher in a school with block scheduling and has 1 1/2 hours of daily planning (which many teachers would die for). Many of the daily tasks cited would take at least half an hour each. So a teacher could get three of those tasks completed during planning. Throw in just one of the periodic activities cited and the teacher doesn’t even get three tasks completed.
Now consider other task demands placed upon teachers.
- Professional development and related tasks
- Teacher evaluation tasks
- Various school initiatives to implement
- Top down directed professional learning community work prescribes work to be conducted
There are days in which teachers have maybe half an hour to meet the responsibilities cited above. Again, this was a Pre-Pandemic standard.
Why this Matters
In addition to what Perna cited, I offer the following.
In education, the rubber hits the road in the classroom with the teachers implementing the lessons and supports. Less preparation impacts both and that impacts students. This is particularly significant in the case of special education in which teachers are asked to be masters of the universe.
Also, learning is rapidly changing, significantly. Students having all the information in the world at their finger tips and a vast amount of information is being shared via social media – for better and worse. Teaching has to adjust. That takes even more time.
I am interested in hearing from others, especially parents.