California Educator

February/March 2020

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Page 27 of 63

F T E R K E L L Y K N O C H E started teaching middle school in Oakland, at the end of each school year her students would ask if she was coming back. She always said, "Yes!" But after three years in a high-stress environment supporting stu- dents whose needs were beyond what could be addressed in a classroom, she was feeling burned out and depleted. She asked herself the same question: "Will I be coming back?" With an estimated 16 percent of teachers leaving the field every year and more than 100,000 open teaching positions nationwide, teacher burnout and the inability to con- tinue the good fight are impacting students in a big way. e everyday grind of the system alone is enough to burn out some educators, but with the added toll of helping students cope with their own traumatic experiences, many teachers can feel like they have nothing left to give. is emotional strain of working with students who are suffering from the consequences of traumatic events is called compassion fatigue or secondary traumatic stress (STS). Teacher burnout and STS come at a huge cost to stu- dent learning and relationships with communities that are often most in need of stability, Knoche says. e con- stant stress and anxiety of teaching in an underresourced school system like Oakland Unified can have major impacts on educators' health and lives, including challenges to keep up with daily demands and personal responsibilities. After six years watching her colleagues in Oakl and str uggle with th e e ver -grow- ing li st of demand s, th e form er Oakl and E d u c a t i o n A ss o c i a t i o n m e m b e r l e f t th e classroom to found The Teaching Well . It works to empower school systems to more effectively support, retain and leverage the skills and talents of educators by providing tools for healthy dialogue, emotional regulation and mindful stress resilience. This is how thriving school e c o sy st ems are creat ed , Kno ch e say s. " We're doin g A By Julian Peeples To fight burnout and compassion fatigue, educator self-care is critical You, p T i m e t o F oc us too 26 Kelly Knoche feature

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