Nearly one in three Minnesota teachers are considering quitting their jobs or retiring, according to a survey by Education Minnesota, the state’s teachers union.
The survey of more than 9,700 educators comes about a month into a school year like no other as teachers, students and parents navigate distance learning, in-person classes or a combination of the two, depending on the spread of COVID-19 in their communities.
The vast majority of teachers surveyed report feeling stressed and overwhelmed, and roughly half said they were worried about their own mental health. Few reported positive feelings about their work, although more teachers holding in-person classes said they were happy about their work than their peers in distance learning or hybrid models. Nearly 20% of full-time in-person teachers said they were happy, compared to 10% of distance learning teachers.
Teachers tasked with delivering both in-person and virtual lessons at the same time — likely in cases where a school is holding in-person classes, and some students have opted for full-time distance learning — were the most likely to report concerns about their workload. Of these teachers, 59% said their workload was “very much a concern,” while 41% of distance learning teachers and 37% of in-person teachers gave the same answer.
Teachers in hybrid and in-person learning models reported about the same level of comfort with their work. On a scale from 1-100, hybrid teachers rated their feelings of physical safety at 53, and in-person teachers at 55. Distance learning teachers rated their feelings of safety at 88.
“Educators are saying they’re stressed, overwhelmed, frustrated and worried about their mental health,” said Denise Specht, Education Minnesota president, in a written statement. “Nearly 30 percent say they’re thinking about quitting or retiring. There’s already a teacher shortage in Minnesota. Our public schools won’t function if thousands of educators burn out and leave. It’s time to adjust.”