As we march forward into a new year, EdSurge is reflecting on the stories we shared and the biggest hits of 2022.
We published numerous stories about the plight of teachers today, including investigations into the experiences of educators whose mental health concerns are pushing them out of the profession and the lives of teachers who work multiple jobs to cover their basic needs. We dove into the role of teachers in edtech decision-making and the use of evidence in the development of learning technologies. We explored new efforts by school districts to address staff shortages and other ongoing fallout from the pandemic, including four-day school weeks and more flexible, better-paying teaching programs.
Our readers’ favorite stories included some of the aforementioned pieces plus some others, spanning first-person essays from classroom teachers to deeply reported stories from our staff journalists.
What emerges from our list of most-read stories of 2022 is a clear theme: Teaching is in crisis. The below headlines include terms such as burnout, demoralization, mental health, breakdown, quit, resign, leaving, resist and survive.
In 2023 we seek to unpack these complex, persistent challenges—and unearth some hopeful solutions, too. Thank you, as always, for reading.
The 10 Most Popular K-12 Stories, in Descending Order
10. Educators Don’t Need To Cope. They Need To Resist.
By Jennifer Yoo-Brannon
As an instructional coach, Jennifer Yoo-Brannon’s conversations with educators have gotten increasingly difficult recently, as more teachers break down in front of her and openly contemplate leaving the profession. But rather than helping them to cope, she writes that her hope for every educator is to find a community of resistance when they need it. What education really needs, she says, is for teachers to flock together, affirm each other’s experiences and challenge the system when it does not serve them.
9. Concerned Parents and Lawmakers: Here’s What You’ll Really See in My Classroom
By Jennifer Yoo-Brannon
When a proposed bill in Iowa suggested putting cameras in classrooms, teacher and 2021-22 Voices of Change writing fellow Jennifer Yoo-Brannon wondered what such devices would actually capture. The truth, she realized, is that she often deviates from lesson plans and works outside her job duties, to prepare her students “to change the world, to navigate the unpredictable with critical thinking and resilience.” In this piece, she describes what parents and lawmakers would really see inside her classroom.
8. Our Nation’s Teachers Are Hustling to Survive
By Emily Tate Sullivan
We all knew teacher pay was low, but did you know that nearly one in five teachers has a second job during the school year? During a four-month investigation co-published with Mother Jones, EdSurge reporter Emily Tate Sullivan spoke to more than 30 teachers who double as rideshare drivers, fast food workers, bartenders and real estate agents. Through these extensive interviews, as well as data analysis of studies including never-before-published research on teachers’ outside jobs, Tate Sullivan explains how and why this dynamic has become commonplace in the U.S..
7. Principals Are on the Brink of a Breakdown
By Emily Tate Sullivan
About 85 percent of school principals say they’re experiencing job-related stress, and nearly half are dealing with burnout after facing trauma personally, or absorbing trauma from their staff, students and families over the past two-and-a-half years. EdSurge spoke with a handful of principals about what school has been like for them recently, and what strategies they use—or could use—to improve their mental health and well-being.
6. The School Hall Pass Is Going Digital. Is That a Good Thing?
By Jeffrey R. Young
A growing number of schools have adopted electronic hall pass systems that have brought digital innovation to the seemingly simple process of students getting a pass to go to the bathroom, the library or some other office. But some digital-privacy advocates worry that digital hall passes could create oppressive school environments.
5. Can Four-Day School Weeks Keep Teachers From Leaving?
By Nadia Tamez-Robledo
In a bid to staunch teacher burnout and attract new talent, some school districts have moved to adopt four-day school weeks. At least one has found a way to give teachers an extra day off while keeping students in school all week. Could a shorter work week prevent educators from quitting?
4. Teaching Broke My Heart. That’s Why I Resigned.
By Natalie Parmenter
After 10 mostly-good years in the classroom, the 2021-22 school year was more than Natalie Parmenter could—or wanted to—take, she writes for EdSurge. Though she loved her students and felt teaching was her calling, she was tired of how politicized the job had become and frustrated with the constant expectation that she should do more with less. So, with a broken heart, Parmenter resigned.
3. Teaching Must Get More Flexible Before It Falls Apart
By Simon Rodberg
Can the teaching profession survive the difficult period we’re in now, following years of pandemic fatigue and decades of being undervalued? Not unless it gets more flexible, argues author and former educator Simon Rodberg. Teachers need more time for themselves, and that might involve changing how the school day looks. He shares his outside-the-box suggestions in an essay.
2. The Mental Health Crisis Causing Teachers to Quit
By Stephen Noonoo
Lesley Allen had panic attacks at work. So did Stephanie Hughes. And Holly Allen. What do all three have in common? They’re former teachers who left their jobs after experiencing a mental health crisis—and they’re far from alone. In a feature co-published with The New Republic, we look at the incredible strain facing today’s teachers, and what that means for the future of education.
1. America’s Teachers Aren’t Burned Out. We Are Demoralized.
By David Stieber
In his 15-year teaching career, David Stieber has lost students to gun violence, seen 7-year olds beg to keep schools from closing and taped up broken asbestos tiles that couldn’t be removed. This work hasn’t burned him out, per se, but he is demoralized by systemic injustice and inequity. Teachers, he writes, don’t just want fixes. They want to be part of finding solutions.