Blake Warner is a junior at Virginia Tech majoring in Finance and Management
The past couple of years have been the hardest of my educational career. One day I was catching a bus to attend in-person classes, the next I was figuring out how to use new technology to join a virtual meeting. Now, I’m doing both.
All in all, these years have been extremely difficult for me as a student, but they’ve been even harder for my professors. Teacher burnout has skyrocketed during the pandemic. But despite it all, instructors have been resilient. I wanted to take a moment to appreciate the hard work they’ve put in, and the impact they’ve made on us as students.
The Realities of Teacher Burnout
As an undergraduate teaching assistant, I’m exposed to higher ed on both the student side and the instructor side. Instructors are easy targets for students when classes aren’t going well. But, they give all they can to ensure that we have the best possible college experience.
I have also witnessed firsthand the lack of separation that teachers have between their personal and professional lives. Whether they’re constantly checking emails, developing content or attending extracurricular meetings, teachers consistently put in far more than a 40-hour workweek.
According to research, around 55% of college faculty considered a career change or early retirement in the 2020 school year. Additionally, only 13% felt hopeful, while 69% felt stressed and 68% felt fatigued.
The numbers don’t lie — being a teacher during the pandemic is tough. Teacher burnout is very real. There are so many great professionals we should be thankful for. It’s the students’ job to show appreciation to our great teachers so that they can continue to lead the next generation.
An Open Letter to All Teachers and Professors
On behalf of students everywhere, we appreciate you!
We know the past few years have made your job harder and more stressful than it already was. But despite every challenge, you have been amazing. From learning how to use Zoom, to recording lectures, to making and organizing multiple class modalities, we couldn’t have made it to where we are today without all your hard work. I have seen firsthand the amount of time and effort you take to reply to all your students’ emails, and to me, that means the world. Your dedication to communicating even when communication is extremely hard is truly commendable.
I’m thankful for you, instructors because you have made the choice to serve. With all the opportunities presented to you, you have decided to return to universities and give back with your wisdom and voices. Not only this, but you have given massive amounts of moral support at a time when it was needed most.
You have also helped us students succeed far beyond the limits of the classroom. Without good teachers retaining them, college students wouldn’t have access to hands-on mental health support through their universities. Instructors, particularly in my field of Finance and Management, also ensure that students are exposed to recruiters and are put in positions to secure jobs after graduation. You help build the foundation of the next chapter in our lives, and I am endlessly grateful for that.
From a student, THANK YOU to every instructor who has taught through the hardships of the previous years. We appreciate you more than ever, and your effort has not gone unnoticed.
To see more of the real impact instructors have on their students, grab a box of tissues and watch this video of teachers talking about students who they’ll always remember.