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Teacher Burnout in the United States

Teachers make a significant impact on students. Not only do they educate them on the material within their class, but they also teach lessons that students will live by for the rest of their lives. Making positive differences is a primary reason people become teachers. However, according to the American University School of Education, “...50 percent of teachers consider quitting, naming stress as one of the primary reasons.” Battling issues at work takes a toll on their health and can ultimately lead to burnout, a state of mental or physical exhaustion.

Several factors contribute to the high level of stress that teachers across the United States feel, many of them stemming from a lack of support. Shortages in staff are one such factor. Though not every school district is experiencing shortages, teachers are more likely to experience burnout in the ones that do. Montgomery County, addressed by the National Education Association (NEA), is an example of this, “Montgomery County currently has vacancies for 325 teachers, about 105 paraeducators, nearly 100 other support staff, and about 120 bus drivers.” Shortages greatly increase teachers’ workload and give them less planning time. Several schools also receive little funding for supplies and staff. Many teachers lack the materials they need for their classes and may have to teach classrooms with large numbers of students. Low salaries are another factor that leads to burnout. The NEA states that “according to a news report by the Teacher Salary Project, nearly half of the teachers surveyed said their salary was not sufficient to keep them in the profession.” These are only a couple of the reasons that cause burnout in teachers. Without the support they need, the profession can become more demanding than it already is.

Burnt-out teachers can experience exhaustion, which makes it difficult for them to continue working; harbor negative feelings towards their job; and may feel that they aren’t doing well enough in their work, which is why burnout is a common reason for resignation. The American University School of Education describes, “The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that more than 270,000 teachers have left the profession each year since 2016 and projects this rate of departure to continue through 2026.”

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