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Why we’re burning out our young teachers, and how to relight the fire

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When teachers are evaluated as individuals, it "creates a lot of pressure for teachers to perform independently well and to do whatever they need to do to perform that way, and that cuts them off from each other," Frank said.

How do we keep eager young teachers eager? And keep them in the profession?

The future of our children’s education rests on that answer. One big way to keep young teachers working is to prevent burnout.

Michigan State University professor Ken Frank and his colleagues have come out with a research paper on teacher burnout. He joined Stateside to discuss the stressors facing young teachers today.

Frank attributes part of the burnout to pressure to perform well on individual evaluations, which may not be the best way to see the full picture.

“When we just do individual teacher value-added scores, we probably miss the Magic Johnson effect – that’s like their points per game but we lose the team effort and the whole focus of the team orientation.”

When teachers are burnt out, he said, they tend to invest less in those around them, and others do the same in return, which can create a cycle of isolation.

“You can become isolated and, even if you were doing a decent job, you would have a hard time coordinating and investing in the broader project of the school,” Frank said.

As a result, Frank said that not only do teachers suffer, but so do their students and the school culture as a whole.

Estimates show that 15-20% of teachers leave in the first 3 to 4 years of teaching, which has a high cost, according to Frank.

“As a society, we are losing people we have trained, and who were interested and committed to the profession,” Frank said.

Listen above for the full conversation.

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