Implementation of new educational requirements from the federal, state and local level, combined with the loss of collective bargaining rights, has teachers feeling overloaded and under growing stress, according to a survey of Baraboo teachers.
“There’s initiative fatigue,” Baraboo High School teacher and Baraboo Education Association President Kari Nelson told the Baraboo News Republic. “That is the sense we are getting from our members. It is initiative overload.”
Examples of initiatives cited by teachers as contributing to the feeling of being overloaded are the Educator Effectiveness teacher evaluation system, the Charlotte Danielson Framework for teaching, the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program and the Bring Your Own Device initiative which requires teachers to work with students on learning to use Chromebooks and new software.
“These initiatives demand a lot of time on the teacher’s part,” Nelson said. “A lot of the staff worry it is taking time away from the student-driven things teachers want to be doing. They want to give students more timely feedback and create highly engaging lessons and that takes time.”
WEAC Region 5 Executive Director Bill Froelich said the 2011 state law called Act 10, which limited public employees’ abilities to collectively bargain on anything other than base wage, has negatively impacted communication between teachers and administrators. However, there is nothing to prevent the administration and school board from engaging teachers and education support professionals in conversations and working toward joint solutions to problems such as teacher overload. The union continues to represent members in efforts to influence those decisions and make sure that educators have the time and resources to meet the needs of all students.
“We’re just saying we want to have more of a voice,” Froelich said.
Read the Baraboo News article:
‘Initiative overload’ stresses Baraboo teachers: Union survey points to disconnect with administration
Retired teacher Victoria Wiegand noticed big changes in workload and communication between administration and teachers during her last few years with the Baraboo School District. “I just think there were more initiatives,” Wiegand said. “It seemed like every year I taught, there were changes, new things that had happened.”
Teacher Workload Video:
This video focuses on the impact of growing teacher workload in Milwaukee Public Schools and the role Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association members are playing in working to ensure that educators have the time they need to meet the needs of all their students. But the concepts of teacher overload and the important role of the union in advocating for students and educators certainly apply to school districts statewide.