Can rewards prevent burnout?

Here is a link to an article about how employees benefit from rewards, no matter how small. It's interesting to think about the times in your career when you felt rewarded, and how that differs from the times you have not.

It's part of a series of articles about reducing turnover; it's worth a look for inspiration or insight.


Are teachers slaves?

A letter to the editor in the September 18th Post and Courier at thinks teachers have been treated like slaves. She wrote after reading a previous letter to the editor that stated that teachers needed to work more hours, including Saturdays, to improve South Carolina's educational system.

Most teachers have heard their working hours described as easy before---summers off, only work until 3 p.m. But anyone who has actually known a teacher knows that many more hours, and many Saturdays and Sundays too, are spent by teachers working to provide quality services.

The writer said:

"Slavery was outlawed nearly a century and a half ago, but it is still being
practiced in the South Carolina educational system. Teachers at a school I have
visited start their day at 7 a.m. The children begin to come in a 7:15 a.m. The
day ends at 2:30 p.m. That's seven hours. They go to lunch and recess with their
students. They have no official planning period and no bathroom break. The only
time teachers have time during the day when they can make plans, go to the
bathroom and straighten up the classroom is when their students go to a
specialist, such as music. Two of these teachers with whom I spoke do not get
this "free" time until after 1 p.m.

I don't think it is legal to deprive someone of a break of some kind for six hours. Imagine not being able to relieve yourself for that long. When the children leave school, the teachers I talked with said they always have a meetings or training session to attend.

The letter writer suggested teachers should work on Saturday. In fact,
every teacher I talked with does. They also work until five, six and even until
10 at night — voluntarily — for no extra pay other than the satisfaction that
they have done their jobs well. "


Teachers with Burnout Mid-Week Snapshot


USA Today Covers Kozol's Protest Against No Child Left Behind

USA Today reports that Kozol is continuing his partial fast. He has lost 29 pounds but has gained inches and minutes of news coverage. The USA Today article says:

WASHINGTON — No Child Left Behind is "wreaking havoc in our inner-city schools," alleges education author Jonathan Kozol, 71, who today begins the 75th day of a partial hunger strike to protest the law.
Congress passed the education reform law with bipartisan support in 2001, and lawmakers this month are preparing to reauthorize it. The law seeks to get all students reading and doing math at grade level by 2014, mandating annual math and reading tests for about half of all children and sanctioning schools that don't keep improving.

Kozol on Monday said the law effectively has dumbed down school for poor, urban kids, creating "a parallel curriculum that would be rejected out-of-hand" in the suburbs.

Would Packing a Pistol Help Teacher Burnout?

Today the Christian Science Monitor covered an Oregon story by asking: Should Teachers Be Allowed to Pack a Gun?

An Oregon high-school teacher, backed by a firearms lobby group, is challenging district policy that prohibits anyone except law enforcement officers from having a firearm on a school campus. She specifically wants to pack her Glock 9mm pistol in order to protect herself from her violent husband. Gun-rights groups say that a district policy that prohibits firearms violates statutory law. Overturning district policy would have national implications.

Although her primary goal was to protect herself, the teacher also feels that as a veteran teacher, she has come to believe strongly that having responsible armed adults on campus could have prevented tragedies such as those at Columbine High School in Colorado, Thurston High School in Oregon, and Virginia Tech University.

Of course, teachers and administrators are divided as to whether guns would increase their feelings of stress and burnout, or if they would help teachers feel secure.


Creating Public Awareness of the Damages of "No Child Left Behind."

Jonathon Kozol released a manifesto explaining why he is fasting in protest of the damage created by the "No Child Left Behind Act." In addition to the being a respected education expert and a National Book Award author, Kozol publishes a blog on The Huffington Post. September 10th he wrote:

The real effect of No Child Left Behind is to drive away the tens of thousands of exciting and high-spirited, superbly educated teachers whom our urban districts struggle to attract into these schools. There are more remarkable young teachers like this coming into inner-city education than at any time I've seen in more than 40 years. The challenge isn't to recruit them; it's to keep them. But 50 percent of the glowing young idealists I have been recruiting from the nation's most respected colleges and universities are throwing up their hands and giving up their jobs within three years.

When I ask them why they've grown demoralized, they routinely tell me it's the feeling of continual anxiety, the sense of being in a kind of "state of siege," as well as the pressure to conform to teaching methods that drain every bit of joy out of the hours that their children spend with them in school.

At the time of writing he was on the 67th day of a partial fast. His actions and writing have created a great deal of attention and some controversy. His writings are well worth reading, and he speaks directly to the concerns of many teachers who feel that they are burning out.


Perfection is a dark room and a bag of popcorn: Chalk

If you need some stress relief this weekend (if ??? ), a movie might be a good idea. Give this a try: Chalk is a mockumentary showing high school from a teacher's point of view. It's funny and empathetic, and is receiving very good reviews. It even features a teacher's lounge that is exactly like my first one--down to the stolen lunches from the "team" fridge.


Mid-Week Teacher Burnout Snapshot


Inspiration for Recovering from Burnout

"One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child."
~Carl Jung


School testing pressure leads to teacher burnout

“What our teachers really need” is an interesting opinion article published by the Boston Globe on September 6, 2007. Lily Rayman-Read, a graduate of the Harvard Teacher Education Program wrote about her student teaching experience at Another Course to College in Brighton, Massachusetts.

She writes about teachers bearing the brunt of the decision to emphasize student testing instead of a more diverse curriculum:

Meanwhile, teachers are seeing less preparation time per class, as well as
increased pressure for student performance on the state's MCAS tests. Teachers
need a greater amount of time to interact with each other, and with their
communities, in order to meet the ever-increasing demands on their time and on
their students. Especially in inner-city schools, reaching out to the community
and having interaction with other teachers can save a teacher from early burnout
or isolation. In my experience, the MCAS test drives teachers away from one
another and into a philosophy of "teaching to the test," which limits them both
in the classroom and out of it.
She draws a good connection between what students need—engaging opportunities to keep the fire for learning alive, and teachers’ needs for autonomy and a student body that is able to be engaged. Rayman-Read ends by saying: Students need stimulation outside of reading and writing, and teachers need the flexibility to lead their classrooms according to their students' abilities and interests. Then perhaps we can make school a place for both education and enjoyment.


"To Hell With the Bell"

This group of retired Canadian teachers get together every morning on the first day of school to celebrate their freedom. Their tradition includes breakfast, merriment and at 9 am, the starting bell time of the local schools, they ring their own old school bell.

And then they yell "To hell with the bell," they laugh, and continue their party. According to an article in The Kwarthan September 4th edition, one of the teachers said: "It's remembering the good times of the job, but also celebrating the freedom retirement brings,” says Ms Prole.

Someday...that will be us!

Teacher Burnout Midweek Snapshot


Inspiration for Recovering from Burnout

"That which is to give light must endure burning."

--Victor Frankel