B.C. teachers critically overworked, understaffed: survey

A new survey from the BC Teachers Federation (BCTF) says teachers in the province are increasingly feeling burned out.

According to the federation, its second annual membership survey showed that teachers in B.C. need more support and time to successfully meet students’ needs.

The survey revealed that more than 58 per cent of teachers say their overall workload has increased since last year. 

Roughly 15 per cent of teachers said they were unlikely to still be teaching in the B.C. public education system within two years.

BCTF president Clint Johnston told CityNews that teachers are feeling the pinch when it comes to extra help in the classroom.

“There’s just, in general, a lack of supports, and just not enough teachers means that you’re doing more work and burning out earlier as well,” said Johnston.

More than 60 per cent of teachers told the survey that a staffing increase of either on-call or specialist teachers would make a big difference to their workload, and 39.4 per cent called for more educational assistants.

Only 13 per cent of survey respondents felt students with disabilities and diverse needs are getting their needs “completely” or “very much” met.

Johnston says teachers who say their workload has increased are also more likely to say they plan to leave teaching altogether. 

He recalled a quotation by one teacher, who said, “I love my job and I love my kids, but it’s becoming harder to go to work each day when I don’t have the support I need for these students to succeed properly.”

“Teaching students is the easy part. It’s everything else — lack of prep time, having to teach double classes, lack of admin support, new report cards, and no time to plan for this. All of these areas are leading many to be exhausted, frustrated, and burning out,” said another teacher.

Johnston said the BCTF will be sitting down with B.C.’s Ministry of Education to table some of its concerns.

“[With] over 15 per cent of the members considering leaving in the next two years because of the workload, you have to address that. And that requires more teachers. We need to train more. We also need to just make the job one that people want to do. It needs to have a good salary, good working conditions,” said Johnston.

“We just need a government that’s willing to put together an overall strategy and put the money towards getting this done.”