“Self Care” Has Become the New Educational Catch Phrase But Isn’t Moving the Needle Regarding Teacher Burnout.

Teachers used to stay in the field for 20+ years, most retiring from the profession. Coming from a family of educators, my mother retired as an ESOL teacher after 33 years. Now, it’s hard for school districts to retain teachers for the first three years. 

“According to the Alliance for Excellent Education, About 500,000 (15%) of teachers in the U.S. leave the profession every year.”

Public school districts are focusing on self care for teachers as a means to attract new talent to public school districts and help keep the teachers they have in place.  

But much like diversity and inclusion, self care has become the new educational buzzword.

According to teacher retention data, teachers are starting to leave the field at much younger years. They are more frequently leaving between the year 1 through 5. Newer teachers, as many as 41.3%, leave the profession within 5 years. This leaves public school districts with disparaging gaps of professional knowledge as most teachers are still novices during the first 3 years of their careers. 

I appreciate the actions of many public schools focusing on “self care” initiatives to provide teachers with incentives from providing lunch, massages, gift cards, and mental health resources. 

But these actions aren’t moving the needle in regards to reducing teacher burnout which is still a large reason as to why teachers are fleeing the education field. 

66% of teachers want to leave their job, and 41.3% of new teachers leave the profession within the first 5 years. 

Jeff Campbell highlights this data in his article on teacher burnout as well as lots of data points and 21 facts as to why teachers are leaving the field. He believes that based on factual evidence that teachers suffer from higher than average rates of drug and alcohol use. At any given point in time, 36.4% are likely to quit regardless if they are in a traditional public school system, charter network or other school choice offering.

We know that public school districts struggle with teacher retention. Developing partnerships with organizations such as Profound Gentlemen helps with improving diversity and the number of Black male teachers.

In order for public school districts to improve teacher retention and reduce teacher burnout, school board members and leaders must consider the following:

  1. Improving the teacher pay scale and retirement benefits. 
  2. Allowing for earned sick days and personal days to roll over and to be used toward retirement days for teachers. 
  3. Eliminate unnecessary tasks for teachers to conduct in and out of the classroom. 


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