The Cariboo Chilcotin Teacher’s Federation (CCTF) presented the results of a teacher survey at a school board meeting in April.
CCTF had sent out the survey early in 2023 to look at teacher stress levels and burnout in the district after a member came to Jessica Hill, president of the CCTF, with concerns.
“It’s no secret that the education sector has been under increasing strain for years,” stated Hill, noting while COVID has had a negative impact on everyone, including teachers, she said the issues facing school staff have been present since before the pandemic.
“We have good teachers in our schools,” she said. “If we’re going to retain our teachers and keep our staff from burning out, we need this information.”
They are choosing not to share the survey results publicly, however, and want to make sure the information is given context.
The survey was conducted last year to see how widespread feelings of burnout were and how many teachers have been considering leaving the profession.
More than 200 teachers completed the survey, across all grade levels throughout the district and evenly distributed across the grade levels.
While Hill did not want to get into numbers resulting from the survey, she said the results give a snap shot of where things are at and she shared the results with the school board to move forward.
“I want to use this survey to build up our members and support them,” she said.
Staff shortages, including specialized support in the classroom such as learning assistants and other supports are having an impact on teachers, who have to try and meet those needs for students without the specialized skills to do so. Teachers also have to learn on the job when it comes to administrative changes, and she said teachers are looking for more in-service support to deal with these changes during work hours.
“A lot of the pressure is being downloaded onto the teachers” said Hill, adding these shortages are not unique to this school district.
While it was clear from the survey teachers are stressed and need more support, there were some positives as well.
“Our members actually are feeling relatively supported and respected by their school-based administrative teams,” said Hill.
“In this district at least, there is a positive path forward and we can see it and we just have to keep moving towards it,” she said.
“The board was very grateful for the information provided by the survey as it highlighted both the gains the district has achieved as well as the challenges we are still attending to.,” said Ciel Patenaude, board chair. “The main takeaways were that the work we have done to increase leadership capacity, offer professional development opportunities, and improve relationships in the district is being seen and felt by teachers, which was great, but also that our teaching staff continue to be challenged by the very real staffing shortages and stress that continue to impact the educational sector.”
Chris van der Mark, School District 27 superintendent, said he was glad to hear the CCTA note the improved relationship between the district and local union.
“We have worked hard to improve communication and collaboration,” he stated, noting there is still more work to do.
He said the district is working with the CCTA and school administration to address teacher concerns, including more learning opportunities for teachers.
“We have lots of evidence these opportunities are gaining traction,” he said.