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To take care of and for others, you must first take care of yourself. This message is one of my most memorable takeaways this semester.
I have heard the phrase, "Show up for the kids" more times than I can count. It's stated in memos and emails to teachers and whispered in conversations. School districts and administrators try to contradict the message with self-care professional development. But looking out for our teachers means first taking care of and showing up for themselves.
I'm sure you've heard and seen the dozens of stories reporting the high cases of teacher burnout and turnover. It's a crisis, like many others, that was brought to the surface by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Teachers changed their teaching format multiple times per week, transformed their curriculum and resources, and adapted to meet the different needs of children and students quarantined at home. Instead of teaching reading and math, they focused on self-regulation, peer interaction, and play strategies. All this change takes a toll on teachers' mental, emotional, and physical states. One person can only do so much to support the constantly developing needs of young humans.
The point is, you've heard these stories before. So, why do we still need to talk about it? Because the problem is not going away. Until there is a systemic change to support teachers' needs, voices, and health, we still need to speak up. In this post, I will share the rates of teacher burnout and turnover; messages from real teachers and teacher candidates; and practices for burnt-out or struggling teachers.
Meghan Hesterman (she/her) is a child advocate and education blogger. While a student at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD), she created Journal of a Future Teacher to share her journey in becoming an early childhood teacher.