It’s Teacher Appreciation Week, and students everywhere are showering their teachers with gifts and love. Which is amazing, but let’s be honest, everyday should be Teacher Appreciation Day! And not just for the free burritos. We should be doing so much more to help our teachers, especially in light of this alarming study. Researchers at the University of Missouri found that 93% of elementary school teachers are highly stressed. NINETY THREE PERCENT. Teaching is such a hard job, and the people who choose to teach rarely have an easy go of it. But now we’re seeing that the bad stuff about teaching can really take a toll.

It’s no secret that teaching is a highly stressful job. But it’s hard to hear that 93% of elementary school teachers are struggling with feeling overwhelmed, underpaid, and underappreciated.

Researchers at the university analyzed 121 teachers in kindergarten through 4th grade at non different schools an in urban school district. They studied stress levels, burnout, and coping abilities of the teachers. Sadly, teachers with low levels of stress and burnout were almost non-existent. But is it really so surprising? Teachers all over the country are walking out of their classrooms in protest of not being paid a livable wage. We published a heartwarming story a while back about a teacher’s “wish list” site that had been fully funded. Which is amazing! But also, when you think about it, is really awful. Our teachers are spending their own money, money they don’t have, to educate our kids. Or begging for supplies online, hoping someone will fill their needs. It’s completely ass-backward.

In addition to educating our children, teachers are expected to throw their bodies in the line of bullets in the event of a school shooting. We are failing them in so many ways.

And when our kids suffer or don’t progress the way we want them to, where’s the first place we lay blame? TEACHERS. In the study, researchers noted this, saying, “

[Teachers]

receive pressures from administrators, parents, and society at large to increase student outcomes while in many cases receiving fewer resources to do so.” The fact is, a highly stressed teacher is likely going to bring that into the classroom, intentional or not.

Keith Herman is a professor in the MU College of Education and the study’s lead author. He says, “Even more concerning is that these patterns of teacher stress are related to students’ success in school, both academically and behaviorally. For example, classrooms with highly stressed teachers have more instances of disruptive behaviors and lower levels of prosocial behaviors.”

We need to do better by our elementary school teachers. We, as a society, have to value their hard work and contributions. Vote for politicians and administrators who will fight to get them the money they deserve! And be their support system, every single day.

(Image: iStock / coscaron)