“Your overtime is not a badge of honor but a systemic problem that leads to burnout. I wish we could blame it on the craziness of pandemic teaching, but we cannot. It is a deeply ingrained narrative, and it is time to rewrite the story.”*
That quote stings!
I work unpaid overtime regularly.
I spend personal funds on classroom necessities.
I turn “projects” for school into family outings.
Why? Because it makes life easier for me in the classroom.
Unfortunately, this scenario is the rule, not the exception.
I have worked in multiple school districts in 2 different states. In every contract I have signed since 1991, there is a clause under “job description” that says “Other duties as determined” (or something similar). That is a vague and widely interpreted phrase. It involves “volunteering” for things such as working a sporting event or school carnival, attending PTO/PTA meetings, conferences with parents outside of contract hours (with no flexibility in contract hours to accommodate for time), sponsoring an extracurricular group, and many more.
Public schools have become much more than a place to go for students to receive an education. At times it feels like we are the primary social support for students in pre-k through 12th grade. School personnel perform screening for and accommodating learning differences, emotional stability of students/parents, track homelessness, food insecurity, and much more. Schools provide distribution of meals through the Federal Child Nutrition program. School employees are “mandatory reporters” for Child Protective Services, making schools a front line detecting agency for child abuse and neglect.
Teachers in Arizona continue to pile their responsibilities higher while facing budget cuts, salary freezes or decreases, and the US’s largest class sizes.
According to Arizona School Personnel Administrators Association, Arizona currently has 3,482 classrooms staffed by a permanent substitute or personnel not meeting standard certification requirements.^ This number is slightly skewed because it also includes highly qualified teachers who move to Arizona and are considered “provisional” until completing a course such as Arizona Constitution to receive a “standard” teaching license.
Even when you consider the “exceptions” to the data, many students do not receive high-quality instruction.
Since the beginning of the 20-21 academic year, 1,360 teachers have left the profession. Almost 80% of those held a “standard” teaching license ( highly qualified teachers).
These statistics are STAGGERING!
A key part of the problem is that many of us are so committed to the young people we serve, we sacrifice ourselves and our families to serve them. It is not the kids’ fault that the job we do is so hard. That leads to burn out.
Just this weekend, I cannot count the number of articles and news stories I have come across where a teacher says, “I do it for the kids, not the money.” Most of us are in that same thought pattern. We need to change the narrative and normalize healthy boundaries for teachers.
The fact that there are a number of resources that address this issue is a clear indication of the widespread nature of the issue.
Here a a few resources for helping you define healthy boundaries:
40-Hour Teacher Work Week: https://join.40htw.com/full-year
12 secrets of teachers Who trimmed 10+ hours off their work weeks: https://thecornerstoneforteachers.com/12-secrets-teachers-trimmed-10-hours-off-workweeks/
Is a 40-Hour Teacher Work Week Realistic? https://www.simplykinder.com/40-hour-teacher-work-week/
4 Solutions to a 40 Hour Work Week for a Balanced Teacher Work week: https://teachingwell.teachable.com/p/solutions-40-hour-teacher-work-week
What are your favorite resources and practices for establishing healthy boundaries between school and home?