Educator Burnout and Supporting Staff SEL
As we approach the first break in the school calendar later this week, I know these first 6 weeks have felt like an entire school year for many of you. This reality is not unique to any one department or to our district. Across the country, schools have taken on an inordinate amount of work and responsibility since the beginning of the pandemic, and the nationwide shortage of teachers, bus drivers, school nurses, nutrition staff and more is only adding to your already overwhelming workloads.
If you are reading this today, you are probably pretty tired. Stressed. Burnt out. You may be doing multiple jobs, subbing in your colleagues’ classes, or taking on more duties outside of your normal scope of work. You are not alone, and while that doesn’t make it any easier, my hope is that every one of you has the support of your colleagues, your leaders and your loved ones to do what needs to be done without putting your own needs after everyone else’s.
As educators and school district staff, we focus a lot on the importance of social emotional learning for our students. But we can’t do that if we’re not intentionally modeling and practicing SEL skills ourselves. At the organizational level, we need to recognize these truths and provide clear and direct support for staff to deal with difficulties that are often a byproduct of the institution itself and not any individual’s failure to do it all.
Some things may seem small, like using your vacation and sick days, taking breaks when you can, and leaving your work at work (even Superintendents need to follow this advice). If you supervise other people, encourage them to do these things too, and remember to always acknowledge their quality of life, not just the quality of their work.
The Office of School Support has created Mental Health Posters for Staff which you may have seen around your buildings. Through American Rescue Plan funds, staff can look forward to a new series of district-sponsored wellness activities and the opportunity for schools to create staff relaxation spaces, or participate in relationship building and wellness activities as a school community. All SPPS employees also have access to free and confidential counseling services through the Sand Creek Employee Assistance Program.
Our jobs as educators and school district staff are incredibly challenging in the best of times. As we continue to serve students through an ongoing pandemic, it can feel impossible. Thank yous and appreciation weeks are not enough to recognize everything you do for your students, colleagues and community. I’d love to hear from you about one thing you’re doing for you this week; send me an email anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joe Gothard, Superintendent