There have been many reports in the media of teachers quitting their classrooms because of stress. This may be the hope of the groups funded by Charles Koch and other rightwingers, who would like to destroy public education and open new opportunities for private and charter schools.

Here is some sound advice from a retired teacher about how to restore teachers’ morale. Jennifer González writes in her blog about the basic problems and offers ways to solve them.

Here is what she says are fake answers to the problems:

PART 4: THINGS THAT ARE NOT THE SOLUTION

Before we talk about the things that will really make conditions better for teachers, here’s a list of things that won’t:

  • Jeans day or other clothing-related “rewards.”For the love of Pete, we are pulling out of a global pandemic. Just let your teachers wear jeans whenever they want.
  • Donuts, bagels, pizzas, etc. Food is always appreciated and enjoyed, so there’s no need to stop offering it; just know that it does nothing to fix the bigger problem.
  • Surface talk about self-care without any structural changes. Encouraging teachers to meditate, do yoga, practice mindfulness, take bubble baths, get mani-pedis—none of that addresses the real problem. In fact, more than one teacher has pointed out how insulting it is to have leaders give lip service to self-care while upholding conditions that chip away at mental health.
  • Surface-level invitations for teacher input. If a teacher is invited to participate in a focus group, complete a survey, or otherwise give input into school decisions, their input should actually carry weight. If a decision has already been made for all intents and purposes, or the teacher input has no impact on the outcome, then the teacher’s time has been wasted.
  • Unpredictable or short bursts of free time. When it comes to doing challenging cognitive work, “free time” is not the sum of its parts. Five minutes here, another seven there and another 20 there is not the same as knowing you have a full hour of protected, uninterrupted time. Although it’s nice to randomly end a meeting 10 minutes early or show up in a teacher’s class to give them a surprise bathroom break, teachers can’t really make the most of this kind of free time. What they need is longer blocks that they know about in advance so they can plan for them and make good use of the time.
  • Pep talks. Telling a room full of teachers that they are doing a great job will likely go in one ear and out the other of those who are worn out and demoralized.

That’s her list of what teachers don’t need. Read the post to learn what she believes will help teachers. She breaks it down into Time, Trust, and Safety.

Do you agree?