Study Says Teachers Report Highest Level Of Burnout Among All Industries

By Jessica Marie Baumgartner | Published

teacher burnout

The worker shortage is being felt across the country. Numerous employers are desperate to fill vacant positions. No industry is feeling this as strongly as the education profession, but after various excessive lockdown measures during the pandemic, and a stressful year of rising school violence rates, teacher burnout is being experienced at high levels — more so than in any other American industry.

According to a new Gallup poll, 44% of K-12 workers are experiencing teacher burnout. The college education profession is shortly behind with professors and university staff experiencing burnout at a rate of 35%. This displays the current state of the education system. Government workers, retail, and healthcare professionals are also reporting high burnout rates, but none have experienced such vast changes leading to employee stress as teachers. 

The public education system is especially struggling. Due to learning loss brought on by virtual schooling during the pandemic, many students have fallen behind and are in need of individualized attention. In addition, many children are suffering the long-term effects of isolation and fear. A youth mental health crisis has taken hold and schools are short-staffed.

Despite receiving billions of dollars in aid, states are somehow unable to properly fund school counseling and nursing services, and what’s more, filling vacant teacher positions is also an uphill battle. Educators have quit in record numbers and so those who remain are taking on more responsibilities. Because of this, teacher burnout is so commonplace that a recent National Education Association poll revealed that 55% of teachers plan to retire early and that 90% of members admitted that feeling burned out is an issue. 

School violence is another serious issue that leads to teacher burnout. Students are struggling to cope with everything they’ve been through during the past couple of years, and some are lashing out. Fights in school are not uncommon and can be resolved, but violence against teachers has also increased. The American Psychological Association conducted a survey that concluded, “One-third of surveyed teachers reported they experienced at least one incident of verbal and/or threatening violence from students during COVID.” Once returning to in-person learning, violent acts against teachers and school staff have been committed to the point that many educators are demanding increased security. Despite this, the American Psychological Association is pushing for softer student punishments instead of strictly enforced rules.   

As if that weren’t enough, The Biden Administration is pushing to insert identity politics into classrooms. While many parents oppose race-based admissions, grading, and disciplinary actions in the classroom, schools are receiving grants for adding institutionalized “equity advancement” practices which judge students based on their race and/or cultural heritage rather than their work ethic or the content of their character. Parents who oppose these ideologies are no longer clashing with school boards; they are pulling their children out of the system entirely and utilizing alternative education options.

Teachers who disagree with the new rhetoric are forced to either quit or remain and pass on lessons they do not agree with. The added stress of inserting politics into classrooms, along with increased violence, and public health concerns have even led some educators to form their own microschools, but those who remain experience teacher burnout. 

In addition, interest in the teaching profession altogether has dropped. This has been an issue for years, but the lockdowns further exacerbated the situation. Teachers are retiring faster than vacancies can be filled. This is leading to teacher burnout quicker because they have less support. While enrollment declines as well, some may note that schools just need to downsize, but classroom size and teacher need is not always related. While many schools are now offering large bonuses to combat teacher burnout, they may need to consider also paying for relocation fees to tap into a broader range of educators nationwide. 

Due to many factors, teachers are experiencing burnout at a higher level than any other workers in the nation. The public education system is changing at a rapid rate and so are students’ needs. As the size of classrooms continues to shift, so too has interest in teaching, leaving educators stranded in the middle of a high-tension situation.