Facing burnout 1 in 6 B.C. teachers thinking of quitting: survey

Teachers in British Columbia are increasingly facing burnout and considering leaving the profession, according to a new survey by their union.

The BC Teachers’ Federation released the results of its second annual membership survey on Wednesday, and union president Clint Johnston said they are “concerning.”

Click to play video: 'More B.C. schools resort to hiring uncertified teachers'

More B.C. schools resort to hiring uncertified teachers

“Teachers have an ever-increasing workload right now, they are being asked to do more and more with less and less,” Johnston said. “And what that plays out as is not enough supports for kids in classes, and that gets to teachers. They are caring professionals who want to support students, so more of them are leaving than ever before.”

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According to the survey, nearly 60 per cent of the 5,200 teachers polled believe their overall workload has increased since last year.

Under a quarter believed students’ academic needs (23.1 per cent) or social and emotional needs (22.7 per cent) were being met at a high level, and just 13 per cent felt kids with disabilities or diverse needs were having their needs completely or “very much” met.”

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Alarmingly, more than 15 per cent said it was unlikely they would stay in the profession beyond the next two years.

Click to play video: 'BCTF warns of teacher shortage'

BCTF warns of teacher shortage

“Knowing one in six of them are looking at leaving within the next two years is hugely concerning for us, but more concerning I would hope for parents and students and the politicians who are supposed to be making sure the system works well,” Johnston said. “People feel like their mental health is suffering and being sacrificed for the job, and they’re not sure if they can continue to do the job.”

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Johnston couldn’t provide specific numbers on the gravity of B.C.’s teacher shortage but pointed to the growing number of uncertified teachers being hired in some jurisdictions as an indicator.

He said the province’s own numbers suggest 20,000 teachers will need to be hired in the next decade just to keep up with growing enrolment.

Click to play video: 'Surrey high schools to have staggered start times for students'

Surrey high schools to have staggered start times for students

According to the survey, six in 10 teachers said a classroom, specialist or on-call teacher would be the staffing increase with the largest impact, while about four in 10 called for more educational assistants.

Fifty-five per cent said giving them more time for lesson planning would be the scheduling change with the biggest impact.

Along with those changes, Johnston said opening more training spots across the province and offering student loan forgiveness to teachers who move to areas with teacher shortages would also help alleviate the pressure.

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Education Minister Rachna Singh said the province takes teachers concerns “extremely seriously,” and was working with the union to respond.

“We have added more than 400 teacher training seats in our institutions. we are giving incentives to high school students to take up this profession, there are bursaries,” she said. “Along with that, looking at newer ways, like with foreign credential recognition.”

Singh pointed to a new hybrid training program for education students in rural and remote communities that allows them to live and work in their home communities while earning their degree and certification.

The BC Teachers’ Federation said it can’t wait years for the shortage to be fixed and wants a clear plan of action from policymakers now.

With a provincial election less than five months away, Johnston said the teachers’ union is seeking a firm commitment from all four major provincial parties to address their concerns.

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