Structural Supports to Promote Teacher Well-being

Doris A. Santoro | Bowdoin College
Olga Acosta Price | George Washington University

Breaking Down the Issue

  • Burnout and demoralization are meaningfully different forms of work dissatisfaction that each affect teachers’ ability to do their jobs and influence decisions to remain in the profession.
  • System and school conditions contribute to or buffer against demoralization and burnout in ways that directly affect the lives of both teachers and students.
  • Evidence is growing that the pandemic has increased demoralization and burnout among many teachers.

Strategies to Consider

  • A culture of mutual trust, respect, and open communication among teachers and school leaders allows them to work together to improve practices and solve problems.
  • A schoolwide commitment to social and racial justice and to affirming educators’ identities can help counter the forces that contribute to high rates of burnout and turnover for teachers of color.
  • School leaders who protect teachers’ time and prioritize teacher learning see higher levels of teacher satisfaction.
  • Teacher involvement in the design and implementation of learning opportunities is essential to effectively improve teacher morale and student achievement.
  • Trauma-informed strategies and mindfulness supports for teachers reduce stress in ways that positively affect both teachers and students.
  • Open communication with educators and collecting data on teachers’ professional concerns allows school and district leaders to more accurately identify and address the root causes of teachers’ dissatisfaction.

Strategies to Avoid

  • Wellness requires ongoing and long-term schoolwide change and should not be treated as a superficial, siloed, or short-term goal.
  • Although school leaders set the direction in the school, prescribing practices without teacher involvement and monitoring compliance often result in low levels of teacher buy-in and adoption.