American teachers are stressed, exhausted, and underpaid

Summer means a break from school. And this year, teachers may be just as excited as students—if not more so, based on the results of the 2024 Competition. American Teacher Surveyreleased on June 18, found that educators are among the most stressed, exhausted, and unfairly paid workers in society.

The survey, from the nonpartisan nonprofit Rand, found that teachers feel all three pain points at twice the rate of comparable working adults, defined as 18 or older. to 64 years old with a bachelor’s degree and working at least 35 hours a week. And nearly three times as many teachers said they had difficulty coping with work-related stress.

They attributed much of their stress to managing student behavior, administrative work outside of teaching hours, and low salaries — a base salary of about $70,000 compared to $88,000 for their working colleagues. similar work, leaving only 36% of teachers saying their base salary is adequate, compared to 51% of other working adults.

That’s especially frustrating given the hours required, with teachers reporting working nine more hours a week than similarly employed adults, an average of 53 hours worked per week .

The fourth annual Rand State of the Teacher survey is a nationally representative annual survey of 1,479 K-12 public school teachers across the United States, supported by the United States Federation of Teachers United States (AFT) and National Education Association (NEA) and presented using findings from a separate 2024 American Life Department Companion survey of 500 working adults.

‘Conditions, reparations and culture wars’

Among Rand’s other findings:

  • Women reported significantly higher rates of chronic work-related stress and burnout than male teachers, a consistent pattern across 2021.
  • Black teachers were less likely than white teachers to report experiencing work-related stress but more likely to say they intended to leave their school jobs.
  • Teachers are as likely as similar working adults to say they intend to leave their jobs.

Teachers enter the profession because of a deep commitment to helping children learn and develop. They, supported by their unions, have committed themselves to the mission of helping students recover academically, socially and emotionally. They should be honored, cherished and supported,” Randi Weingarten, president of the AFT, told Luck.

“But this report shows once again that conditions, wages and culture wars have made their lives more stressful than their peers,” she added. “Teachers make all other professions possible. It is time to stop underfunding, political attacks, low wages and substandard conditions and give them a real voice. When that happens, we start to see our efforts bear fruit—as schools become places where parents want to send their children, educators want to work, and children thrive.”

Note Sy Doan“While teacher health appears to have stabilized at pre-pandemic levels, our data raise questions about sustainability,” said the report’s lead author, in a press release about the survey. sustainability of the Black teacher profession and female teachers in particular. ”

These findings are similar to recent findings Pew Teacher Survey, also found that teachers are less satisfied with their jobs than other workers — with 33% of teachers and 51% of all U.S. workers expressing “extreme satisfaction.” It also found: 77% of teachers say their job is often stressful, 68% say it is overwhelming, 70% say their school is understaffed and 52% say they would not advise young people Just started becoming a teacher today.

The results of this latest survey – specifically that student behavior, administrative work outside of teaching hours, and low salaries are major causes of educator stress – certainly ring true for educators. therapy Molly Lane. A former school social worker, she founded Teacher talk to provide virtual therapy sessions specifically for teachers after often finding themselves drawn into “improvised teacher therapy sessions in the hallways” and realizing “they had no access to support and deserve more than what I can give them in the 5 minutes between classes.”

But also at the top of the list of stressors for educators, Lane said, is “feeling pressure from family, from authority, from a lot of different people in a lot of different ways,” she said. , “and sometimes feel they cannot do a good job in any capacity.”

In her experience, teachers love their profession and want to do a good job and be there for their students, but that comes with countless barriers. “Internally, they put a lot of pressure on themselves. And then there are the structures and environments that make it difficult for them to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.” But she adds, that lack of control can cause a lot of anxiety and stress.

That resonated with Kate, a high school teacher in New York City who is dedicated to her mostly low-income students, mostly recent immigrants, who often struggle Difficulty with learning and behavioral problems. She is called by her first name for privacy. “Just this year we lost two students,” one to gang-related violence, she said. Luck. Others are living in foster care or temporary housing or on parole.

“I was so worried about them over the weekend,” she said. “And their behavior is so unimaginably bad,” much of it is still due to COVID, as many children lose their social skills. Add to that the basic responsibilities—teaching, hall duty twice a week, grading, and now preparing for a new bilingual program for the fall when she only speaks English, and she said, “It was so stressful.” And that’s just her work life.

“Sometimes we forget that teachers are people too, with their own lives,” Lane noted. And normal worries about family life can be compounded by the stress of the job — especially as teachers are still working, in many ways, in the lingering shadow of the pandemic.

“Those challenges have helped us realize the importance of teaching, and many people think that once things get back to normal, things will be better,” Lane said. Instead, what it reveals about teaching is that “the job is fundamentally stressful.”

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