Mitigating Teacher Burnout: 5 Ways for School Leaders to Support Teacher Wellbeing

In an educational landscape where teacher shortages, budget constraints, and persistent stress are prevalent, many educators are left feeling increasing levels of stress. In a 2022 Gallup poll, 44 percent of teachers reported feeling burnt out at work very often or always, which negatively impacts their mental health and satisfaction with their job.

With nearly half of teachers experiencing burnout at any given time, the whole school community is affected. In a poll conducted by EdWeek, 42 percent of educators said that the state of their mental health negatively affects their teaching. So it comes as no surprise that teacher burnout is one of the biggest challenges schools and districts are currently facing, and addressing this complex issue is key to school-wide achievement.

School and district administrators hold the key to shaping a school culture and professional environment that allows teachers to thrive. To ensure teachers can continue to inspire and educate their students effectively while also feeling professionally fulfilled, administrators must prioritize teacher wellbeing and growth. 

Here are five ways that school leaders can support teacher wellbeing in their schools:​

1. Encourage connection and collaboration

Cultivating a culture of collaboration and connection is key to improving teacher wellbeing. It’s critical that educators build a strong support network in order to stay motivated and prevent burnout.

Professional learning communities (PLCs) are a great place for educators to connect, sharing their ideas, challenges, and best practices with one another in a collaborative environment. By connecting with colleagues with similar experiences, teachers can give and receive support that can empower them to reach their professional goals.

2. Make professional development opportunities accessible

Professional development (PD) opportunities can greatly enhance teacher satisfaction and improve teacher efficacy. High-quality professional learning helps to elevate instruction and drive student success in the classroom. Plus, teacher self-efficacy has been shown to have a positive impact on job satisfaction and a top influencer of student achievement.

It’s important for administrators to make these learning opportunities accessible to educators to ensure ease of use and maximize teacher buy-in. Professional development comes in many forms, from PLCs to courses to coaching. Using a targeted combination of personalized and accessible PD methods that resonate most with your community of educators is key to an effective implementation.

3. Provide tools and resources that support teachers professionally

First and foremost, teachers are responsible for shaping the minds of learners to achieve academic success. Yet this task goes far beyond what happens in the classroom––teachers also face the ever-changing demands of lesson planning, grading assignments, implementing new curriculum, communicating with students’ families, leading clubs, and extracurricular activities, and more.

With all of these demands to juggle, teachers benefit from engaged administrators who provide tools and resources that enable teachers to work more efficiently. Many administrators implement edtech to support teachers’ professional needs, such as learning management systems, learning platforms, and even artificial intelligence (AI). Administrators can also go a step further by developing meaningful peer-to-peer feedback systems that empower teachers to collaborate and share best practices with one another. When teachers have access to a robust system of professional resources and instructional support, they are less likely to reach the point of burnout.

4. Set teachers up with healthy boundaries and work-life balance

In a 2012 study, excessive teacher workload was found to be a significant predictor of depression and anxiety. Teachers may experience an overwhelming workload for a variety of reasons, including lack of support, teacher shortages, and insufficient resources.

Administrators who respect teachers’ time see higher levels of teacher satisfaction. One way to protect teachers’ time is through the implementation of platforms and programs that enhance the support teachers receive and ease administrative burdens. Furthermore, encouraging a culture of communication and feedback can help to guide changes that improve work-life balance for teachers and staff across the school or district. Respect, communication, and trust are key to a positive school culture that cultivates a healthy work-life balance.

5. Offer mental health resources and support

In a national poll of nearly 1,200 educators, only 2 percent said their district offers extensive supports for employees’ mental health and wellness. In this same poll, teachers expressed that some of the top ways their school or district could support their mental health would be a pay raise to ease financial stress (67 percent), fewer administrative burdens (57 percent), and better acknowledgement of professional achievements (54 percent).

Although district and state resources often determine teacher pay rates and influence how schools can address administrative burdens, administrators still have many approaches they can take to improve teacher mental health. For instance, mindfulness-based stress reduction practices, self-care behaviors, and trauma-informed trainings equip teachers with coping strategies that improve their overall emotional wellbeing, while also improving their teaching efficacy and their ability to support student wellbeing. Administrators should also consider ways they can directly support educators better, such as recognizing teacher “wins”, shortening and/or minimizing mandatory activities and meetings, or even implementing a door-open policy that encourages teachers to reach out when they need emotional or professional support.

Teacher burnout can be mitigated through intentional systems of support, collaboration and communication between administrators and staff, and a school culture focused on everyone’s wellbeing. With these strategies, administrators can find ways to prioritize teacher wellbeing and growth, supporting teachers, students, and the school community as a whole.

At Bullseye, we help administrators build healthy cultures, where teachers feel supported, instruction is continuously improved upon, and students can thrive.We’re always ready to help you upgrade your instructional support system to help your teachers thrive. Schedule a complimentary strategy session with a Bullseye expert to learn more about our instructional support solutions!

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