Last night, a teacher named Steve Fackenthall gave public comment to the Red Clay Consolidated School District’s Board of Education. It echoed what most American teachers are going through these days. Teachers are mentally drained and have been since Covid turned the world upside down in the early months of 2020. It is having a tremendous effect on the American teachers. Many teachers have left the profession due to severe burnout and not enough support from their district offices.
This can only trickle down to the American students. Some want to say teachers are lazy, overpaid, get summers off, and only care about their union. Based on my experience with teachers this couldn’t be further from the truth. Most teachers deeply care about their students and want them to be successful. The sad truth is that a lot of pressure has been put on teachers to provide not only education to children, but also social-emotional supports.
My name is Steven Fackenthall, music teacher at Richey Elementary and Vice-President of the Red Clay Education Association. Tonight I speak to you about the extraordinary high levels of teacher fatigue and stress that is being experienced by our educators.
It’s only October 20th, yet it feels like it should be June any time now. We. Are. Tired. Our educators are drowning. To give more insight, I’d like to share with you thoughts from our educators. I’m extremely disappointed that TEACHER MENTAL HEALTH HAS NOT BEEN MENTIONED BY DISTRICT LEADERS ONCE, other than a link to the Employee Assistance Program. There have been no check-ins to see how we are managing as we are also returning following and continue during a pandemic… along with the absence of support or concern for our well being, we are being told to accelerate learning while we know many students are way behind where even the lowest students are in a typical year.
From an elementary school teacher. There is, even more than normal, a lack of understanding of what it’s like in the classroom right now. It’s one thing to read and talk about how COVID has affected our kids, but those working office jobs within the district need to take our word on more things or come visit classrooms more often to really understand what is happening.
I have been a Red Clay employee for 15 years and I feel hopeless. I’m sad for our students and am completely discouraged as a teacher. The general consensus is that NOBODY cares.
I need pacing guidelines relaxed as I have kids coming back from mandatory quarantines and need to catch up. ELA expects us to get through all 4 units this year, which we never have.
I need the micromanaging from the district to stop and just have the ability to teach and give my kids what they need. I used to love teaching but after this past year, I am seriously considering leaving. Although I love my kids, everything else about teaching is driving me over the edge, why isn’t the district listening to us? We need more support, we need more time to plan, grade and help our students, I cannot keep up these 60-70 hours a week.
I was in tears by 11 am and apparently I was the 3rd teacher of the day to do so. I was in the bathroom sobbing saying I can’t do this. I need a different job. This isn’t’ sustainable. These words are saddening.
These words are heartbreaking. And only a fraction of the responses I received. Red Clay board, if we are truly to respect the tireless work educators put forward for their students, then we must think about the conditions we place on them and how to improve that experience. We. Must. Do. Better. Our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions.
District administrators need to stop worrying about “learning loss” and concentrate on the well-being of teachers and students. Teachers need to teach and students need to learn. Let them do it. Let them do the job you hired them to do. Stop with the Department of Education mandates and pressure and let your school be a school, not a bureaucracy.
At the end of the day, if you burn out your teachers, who will teach the children? Computers? We all know how that works. We learned that lesson last year. Nothing against teachers but we learned that teaching on a screen does not work for the majority of American students.
God bless Steve Fackenthall and all the teachers in America. They are the guardians of our kids for a significant period of time before they plunge into adulthood. They deserve our respect and our admiration.