Lack of Support Fuels Teacher Burnout

Esha Singhai and Jackie Sibila

In light of the recent pandemic, relevant concerns placed on student mental health, student burnout and the difficulties of in-person learning have skyrocketed. These hardships have not only plagued students, but are negatively impacting teachers across the globe as well. Within Dulaney itself, the rate of teacher burnout is increasing exponentially–a problem that stems from a number of factors and one that negatively impacts each side of the equation. 

In a recent poll conducted to gain insight from Dulaney’s teachers on teacher burnout, 100% of the respondents reported experiencing feelings of exhaustion based on their work. When asked what causes this burnout, most teachers concurred that the top two biggest problems were an increased workload and disrespectful students who are disruptive to class and simply don’t care. Though these issues were already pre-existing, they have been extrapolated by the pandemic. Despite the increasing workload, teachers are not receiving more prep time to accommodate for this change. 

“We do not have enough time in our day to complete planning…Hours are spent at home, taking away from our families and our self care,” said one anonymous teacher. 

Teachers are not only frustrated by students and heavy workloads. Survey results indicate a chronic lack of support and resources provided by Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS). When asked if they felt that BCPS provides teachers with the necessary support and resources for handling workloads, about 85% of teachers responded no. 

“It feels like BCPS’ solution to any and all problems is to make the teacher handle it,” said another teacher. 

This seemed to be the consensus with many of the respondents. There are simply too many responsibilities that teachers are required to handle. As one teacher stated, they have been assigned additional responsibilities this year, such as contacting home for attendance and lateness. In addition to new responsibilities, typical duties like hall and lunch monitoring, coverage duty and being required to update parents on students’ grades and behavior, have been increased as well. 

These sudden changes, coupled with a lack of support and oversight in implementing them, have caused widespread frustration. 

“Teachers are asked to do too much of the administrators’ jobs. It is rare to see our principal in the halls. A greater presence of administrators during the day is needed,” said one respondent. 

These issues make it clear that the lack of support isn’t strictly a BCPS problem. Many responses indicate the desire to see better allocation of duties within the Dulaney community. This is crucial considering that teacher burnout inadvertently impacts students as well, with 100% of respondents agreeing that teacher burnout negatively impacts the student body.

“Many, if not most, kids already hate being in school. When teachers dread being here too, our students pick up on that and see no reason to even attempt to turn things around,” one teacher stated. 

It should be noted that recently the Board of Education announced a new one-time $1,000 retention and recruitment bonus for all full time employees of BCPS and a one-time $500 bonus for part-time employees. However, this temporary benefit will not effectively mitigate the issue at hand. A problem as extensive as county-wide teacher burnout requires a more multifaceted solution. 

Burnout works in a vicious cycle. Teachers get burnt out, so students get burnt out, which only perpetuates this inescapable and negative trend. In order to protect the future welfare of our teachers, students and schools, this issue must be addressed at a local and county level.