Teacher shares why so many are quitting the profession: ‘I parent more than I teach’

One fourth-grade teacher’s viral video is sparking conversation about why so many educators leave their jobs: teacher burnout. Braxton Kennedy Heiser, a fourth-grade teacher from Indianapolis, recently took to TikTok to explain why she is quitting after a five-year career in education, hoping to shed light on what things are like for people—namely, parents—who might not be aware of what it’s like in the classroom these days.

“I don’t think people truly understand what teachers are going through,” Heiser explained. “Lots of children are not told ‘no’ at home, which makes my job extremely difficult to have them hold accountability for their actions and mistakes.”

“This year, I have been cursed at both by parents and students,” she continued. “I have been hit and punched repeatedly. And what hurts the most is the lack of support from families when you are telling them what their child did. Instead of asking you, ‘Are you okay?’ or ‘My child did what?’ they ask you, ‘What did you do to make them upset?’ or ‘Are there cameras in the room?’”

The behavioral issues have taken a toll on Heiser’s mental and emotional well-being, with her video serving as a sort of PSA to parents about what school staffers are going through behind the scenes when it comes to teacher burnout. “Education is not in a good place right now. It’s really bad,” she said. “I parent more than I do teach.”

In a follow-up video, Heiser filmed herself telling her students that she’s leaving teaching, explaining that she’s doing so for her mental health, but that she loves “each and every one” of them, which is why it’s so hard for her to leave. When one student asked if they “made” her quit, she said, “It breaks my heart that you think that,” with Heiser and her classroom all crying over her news.

Of course, for teachers across the country, there are multiple factors contributing to increased stress levels, with a 2022 study from the American Educational Research Association noting that teachers in the U.S. are 40% more likely to experience symptoms of anxiety than healthcare workers, 20% more likely than office workers, and 30% more likely than workers in other professions like farming, military, and legal professions.

Teachers have long faced systemic challenges, such as low pay and a lack of resources, with many teachers having to buy their own classroom supplies. But the past several years have laid bare other ongoing issues in schools, from book bans and legislative action to suppress and censor accurate and inclusive education about topics such as race, American history, gender, and LGBTQIA+ identities to an ever-increasing risk of violence and school shootings nationwide.

With all those factors, it’s understandable why some teachers are closing the book on their careers. As for Heiser, she shared that she has taken a new job as a digital communications coordinator at a church. After explaining that it breaks her heart to leave a career she had so much passion for, she said, “I’m very excited for this opportunity,” she said. “I am very excited to try something different and to start a new passion.”

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