As teacher shortages continue to worsen across the United States, this new study at the University of Missouri gives insight into why so many stressed and burnt-out teachers are leaving the profession.
Many great people leave the profession unfortunately, and this research confirms that we need to start devoting more time and resources to helping teachers identify and adopt healthy coping mechanisms.
Create a Work Environment That Decreases Stress Among Teachers
Finding ways to mitigate teacher stress and investing in ways to help them cope with stress in positive manners will pay us back in not having to constantly hire and train new teachers all the time. In addition, retaining experienced teachers will likely benefit student achievement as well.
They also explained that positive, healthy coping mechanisms can be quick, easy, and free. One healthy coping mechanism suggested for stressed teachers is writing and delivering a short letter of gratitude to a colleague they enjoy working with.
Other simple things like increasing positive interactions with students and peers, improving classroom management skills, and avoiding gossip at work can also help.
While systematic issues, such as low teacher pay and overburdened teacher workloads remain critical topics to address, school principals, district superintendents, and school administrators can all play a role in supporting stressed teachers who may be struggling to cope.
Communicating with teachers about their concerns, demonstrating empathy, and checking in on their health and well-being shows that you care. The overall goal is to create school environments that allow teachers to thrive and give them the tools they need to be successful.
While the study findings were not particularly surprising, the study highlights how the ability or inability to cope with work stress can be a significant factor contributing to teacher burnout, which ultimately exaggerates the shortage of teachers.