To the Editor:
With respect to the essay, “5 Strategies to Empower Teachers to Be Leaders” (March 28, 2023), these strategies are ideal … in a perfect world.
I am an educator for the New York City school district and an aspiring administrator. The essay shares excellent strategies that can be employed in places where nepotism is not at play, all schools are equitably funded, all scholars have equitable access to a fair curriculum, and there is no teacher shortage.
Of course, we want to empower teachers to be leaders, but in order to do that, we need to begin by offering teachers what they need so that teachers can be teachers. Administrators, families, politicians, and outsiders all forget that teachers are already leaders. The mounting pressure, extensive responsibility, and blame that is put on teachers do not foster growth or leadership. They are what cause the root of the problem: burnout.
As an educator for the country’s largest school system, I experience and witness this on a daily basis. Due to the teacher shortage, I and other educators are picking up classes we are not licensed to teach. Does this show that we are exhibiting leadership skills or that schools are so poorly managed that they cannot retain enough teachers to teach these subjects?
Teachers, as leaders, will do their best to provide these scholars with the best education possible. But, without training and content knowledge, are scholars being provided an adequate education?
As schools consistently get inadequate funding and other resources and remain understaffed, that burden falls heavily on teachers. The best strategy to empower teachers to continue being leaders is to treat them like human beings while understanding their limitations and strengths to utilize their skills in ways that drive their passion rather than burn them out.
New York, N.Y.
A version of this article appeared in the May 17, 2023 edition of Education Week as Treat Teachers Like Human Beings to Avoid Burnout