Where has the Respect Gone?

 

As a motivational education keynote speaker, I am very concerned over the stress, anxiety and depression that so many educators are feeling. Stress and anxiety were not new, but the pandemic and its aftermath has left deep scars. As the pandemic was lifting, the CDC Foundation did a major study on the topic.

Quoting a few bullet points from the research:

“27% of teachers self-reported symptoms consistent with clinical depression and 37% self-reported symptoms consistent with generalized anxiety…53% of teachers say they are thinking of leaving the profession more now than they were before the pandemic…19% of teachers started or increased alcohol use to deal with stress during the pandemic.”

To me, as an education keynote speaker, these findings are heartbreaking.

From a recent Forbes article, Why Teachers Are Leaving and Where They’re Going:

“Teachers are leaving for a variety of reasons. Teacher burnout and low pay have always been an issue with teacher retention. Many teachers have expressed that they lost aspects of the profession that they loved during virtual teaching, or that their district’s response to Covid-19 played a part in their new interest in leaving the profession. But for a large majority of teachers, this is an opportunity to re-evaluate their career path…”

The problem is that teachers are re-evaluating—thousands of them. With the so-called “Great Resignation,” in that number teachers are exiting as well.

Even rubber bands break

It is more than the pandemic, of course. Along with so many other things in life, reducing complex topics to simple bullet points is a dangerous game.

As a keynote speaker who speaks on education, I have an affinity for teachers. I have family, friends and associates in the teaching profession. Not only are educators charged with teaching their subject matter, but society frequently forces its problems on the shoulders of already stressed educators. Teachers stand almost uniquely alone in addressing those pressing social issues – and, make no mistake – these past few years they have had this duty big time.

Worse, many segments of society lack appreciation for the work, dedication and sacrifice of educators. It is a vicious cycle and an almost no-win situation that leads to more stress and anxiety.

Break the cycle

Stress, depression and anxiety are insidious. They can creep into the souls of all of us if we let them but I maintain it is far more difficult on educators. You are called on to be courageous, to smile in the face of adversity, to keep up a front, to not let anything phase you. It is “fool’s gold.” Teachers care deeply and feel deeply. I have known many educators who sometimes sit their cars and cry at the end of a bad day and I do know others who have abused substances in order to cope. This is tragic.

How can this cycle be broken? It will require the profession to be as staunchly supportive of one another as they are for their students. It will require a heart-felt, gut-felt determination to look out for one another and to fight for this noblest of professions.

To be a teacher is to help change this troubled world. To be a teacher is to transform students – that is well-known, but now teachers must strive to transform one another. The old adage used to be, “if you see something, say something.” Now let us say, “if someone seems down, lift them up. “

Where has the Respect Gone? I don’t know. However, I do know it must be brought back and celebrated. It begins with us.

 

Scott Burrows, Education Motivational Speaker. For more information, please contact Scott today or through this website or for more immediate attention at: 520 – 548 – 1169.