It’s common knowledge that teachers today are stressed, that they feel underappreciated and disrespected, and disillusioned. It’s no wonder they’re ditching the classroom at such high rates—to the point where states from Indiana to Arizona to Kansas are dealing with teacher shortages. Meanwhile, the number of American students who go into teaching is steadily dropping.
A recent survey conducted jointly by the American Federation of Teachers and Badass Teachers Association asked educators about the quality of their worklife, and it got some pretty harrowing feedback. Just 15 percent of the 30,000 respondents, for example, strongly agreed that they’re enthusiastic about the profession. Compare that to the roughly 90 percent percent who strongly agreed that they were enthusiastic about it when they started their career, and it’s clear that something has changed about schools that’s pushing them away. Roughly three in four respondents said they “often” feel stressed by their jobs.
The survey’s results were largely what one would expect. Among the “everyday stressors” in the workplace and classroom, the most-cited were time pressure and mandated curricula, respectively, for example.
But perhaps the biggest takeaway is somewhat buried in the summary report: Of the various everyday workplace stressors educators could check off, one of the most popular was “Lack of opportunity to use restroom.” In fact, a fourth of the respondents—which amounts, presumably, to 7,500 educators—cited the bathroom issue as an everyday stressor, putting it in third place only after time pressure and disciplinary issues. What’s more, roughly one in two teachers reported having inadequate bathroom breaks, while about the same ratio said they’re unable to use the breaks they do get.